Guest Author - Shirley McGillivray
Losing someone close to you is obviously very difficult, but sometimes, as well as losing your loved one, you can often lose sight of who you are.
This is particularly true when you have lost a spouse or life partner, as so much of who we are is intertwined with that person. As much as we have our own identities, we were also part of a couple, and when one half of that is no longer there, it can be hard to pick up the pieces and carry on.
As a couple, you probably had dreams and goals, plans for the futures, a wish list of things to do one day, and now many, if not all, of these aspirations have gone, taken away by the death of the other person in those plans.
Friends and relatives, who are wanting the best for you, will often tell you to pick up the pieces and move on, or perhaps do whatever the dream was anyway. This is not as easy as it sounds, as much of the enjoyment was the planning and anticipation together. In some ways it can seem disrespectful to keep going with those dreams - as though you are dismissing the importance of the other person. Even if you do go ahead, it is often a sad and difficult time as you wish you were not alone and feel your loss even more keenly. Taking a friend or relative with you, while perhaps easing the pain a little, still will not fill that void left by that special person in your life.
This doesnít mean we shouldnít have dreams and goals, but it may mean we need to change them a little, so they become our own dreams, rather than shared one.
Making Your Own Dreams and Goals
Although it may seem impossible for you to even think about a future, we all have to start somewhere. Donít make your first goal something huge; it may be as small as going out to the shops, or even just getting out of bed and getting dressed. Pick something that you know you can achieve and that will give you the encouragement to move on to another goal and to then keep on going.
Take a piece of paper and put numbers down the side. Start with 20 (you can always add more later), and start writing down things you would like to achieve or do. As before, they donít have to be huge goals, but it is a good idea to add at least one or two to challenge you. Focus on the Ďwhatí, not on how you are going to achieve your dreams as that will come later. Donít listen to that little voice inside, or anyone else, telling you it is impossible. At this point we are just dreaming and while that is happening, slowly realising that there is a future and that eventually we can move forward.
You might even find it easier to make a list of things you donít want as a starting place.
If you find writing a list difficult, perhaps try using a mind map where you start in the middle of a piece of paper and just write what comes into your mind.
Use whatever technique works for you.
Dream big; this is not yet real, so write anything you want no matter how ridiculous it may seem. Donít shy away from the dreams you had with your partner if it something you really want, but perhaps adapt them to suit your life as it is now.
What Comes Next?
A dream is a wish your heart makes; a goal is a dream with a deadline and a plan.
Once you have your dreams and/or goals written down, go back and re-number them in the order you think they are achievable. Remember this can always be changed; it is really just a guideline for now.
If it is too hard to organize in this way, perhaps make some groups for immediate goals, goals for later and Ďone dayí goals.
Pick one or two goals you would like to achieve, starting with a fairly easy one, and one that might take a little time, or be a bit harder. Think back to when you may have done something similar. Work through it in your mind, thinking about how this can be achieved until you are confident it can and will happen.
Get some help and support if you think you need it, and remember that sometimes things donít work out as we want. This doesnít make you a failure; it means you learn and do it a little differently next time. The important thing is to keep dreaming and achieving and slowly crossing off that list.
The loss of a partner can be difficult, and for some people getting past this is an almost impossible thing to do. Starting small and gaining confidence will help you move slowly towards living life again, remembering that your partner would not want you to grieve forever.
Life will continue albeit different and at times it will be hard, but how you approach it and plan can make an enormous difference in how you continue to live it.