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~ Transitioning into a New Life ~
...the bereaved will find new strength,
new vision,
born of the very pain and loneliness
which seem, at first,
impossible to master.
Daphne Du Maurer

The Journey of Grief following a loss, a crisis or a significant life change is a very personal and often a very private one. Each person experiences his or her own unique journey discovering their own internal sources of strength to help him/her cope with the grief response. In the grieving process, the bereaved person must learn how to deal with the loss, crisis or significant change, adapt and adjust to a new life. Despite the loss, life goes on, it moves forward and begins anew, but it is a life forever changed.

One of the consequences of experiencing loss, crisis or significant life change is that the grieving person must accept that his/her life is different that it was prior to the loss and cannot return to the way it once was. The grieving process involves learning to adapt and adjust to a life forever changed by the loss, a life that can change in many different waysódeveloping new skills, changing a circle of friends, moving, changing jobs, giving up activities, taking on new responsibilities. This quote illustrates some of the changes that may occur and the new skills that need to be developed following the loss of a loved one.

I must learn to open bottles, move the furniture, open stuck windows, go home alone, investigate the noise in the night, eat alone, make decisions alone, handle money alone, go on trips along, fight with service companies alone, be sick alone, sleep alone, sing alone.
Sonja O'Sullivan
Questions for Guiding the Journey to a New Life
As I learn my life anew,
may I be empowered by loving memories.
Martha Whitmore Hickman

The grieving person has no control over the loss, the crisis or life-changing event, but he/she can control the attitude he/she will choose and how they will view events that have occurred. Coping with the loss may require the bereaved to accept their inability to change a situation, face the challenge of changing themselves, and most of all how he/she will respond to the change and manage the transition to a new life. Most people resist change, but loss forces them to change. Sometimes the energy it takes to keep resisting and living in the past becomes more painful than changing. The pain experienced leads to a different life, and often a richer and more rewarding one.

And the day came
when the risk it took to remain tight
inside the bud

was more painful
than the risk it took to blossom.
Anaïs Nin

Psychologist Catherine Sanders proposes three questions for the bereaved to think about and answer that can help in managing the transition to a new life.

1. What do you want to take from your old life into your new life?
The grieving person may have special memories he/she wants to hold on to, or treasured objects that remind him/her of the lost loved one or event. There may also be relationships from the past that are worth preserving.
2. What do you want to leave behind?
In starting a new life, there may be parts of the past best to leave behind. Old negative memories, feelings of anger, resentment or guilt may be best released, rather than carried on as excess internal baggage. There may be objects, photos, letters, old gifts that bring up bad feelings and should be donated or discarded as excess external baggage. There may also be relationships, friendships that no longer seem significant or nurturing following the loss.
3. What do you need to add?
The bereaved may need to develop many new skills, new responsibilities undertaken, new interests explored and new relationships cultivated in order to cope with and survive in the new life.
A single event can awaken within us a stranger totally unknown to us.
To live is to be slowly born.
Antoine de Saint Exupéry
Doka KJ. A New Life. Hospice Foundation of America. Journeys Newsletter. March 2002.

Suffering forces us to change.
We don't like change and most of the time we fear it and fight it.
We like to remain in emotionally familiar places
even through sometimes those places are not healthy for us.
On occasion, the suffering is so great that we have to give up.
We surrender the old and begin anew.
Often it is the pain we experience that leads us, not only to a different life,
but a richer and more rewarding one.

Dennis Wholey
See the Emergency 911 Page for links to immediate resources
if you are feeling helpless, hopeless, overwhelmingly depressed, or suicidal.

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Last update Sept. 11, 2002