Love after loss: Am I ready? 7 Points to Help you Navigate Through this Question.
“When is it ok for me to move on and have another relationship after my loved one passed?”
As a Life Coach working in grief and loss, I get this question often.
And I don’t have the answer.
And maybe you don’t either, at least not right now.
And maybe the answer will never be quite clear.
How do I respond?
When you feel ready.
And I mean when YOU are ready. NOT when society, friends and family are ready themselves or determine when you should be ready. They are responsible for their own journeys.
So, what steps can you take to help navigate this question, or rather, journey?
- Get Clarity. Define and get specific about what you mean by “moving on” and a “new relationship”.
What are you exploring to moving on from and move towards? For this you will have to do some inner work (I know, more, right?!) Although your answer to this will likely change you can ask yourself, what experience, at least for where you are at now, is it that you are looking for? You may find that it may indeed not be a relationship you are looking for. Or maybe it is. Get some clarity.
- Now that you have hopefully developed some clarity, explore how you will measure when you are ready.
How do you do this? By defining what “ready” means to you, establishing and identifying indicators and then assessing and measuring these indicators.
These measurements will also likely change, as you change.
So, what are some indicators that you are ready? What are some indicators that you may not be ready? This will likely be a rough guide. You may feel ready right now and a few days later, not at all. The daily ups and downs are often not a good measurement of readiness. Focus on the overall trajectory rather then your current state.
- Try something out and see how you feel. Take a step. Maybe go to a social gathering and just have a conversation with someone or browse a dating site. What would be one step you could take to try out towards a new relationship?Then take some time to reflect how you feel. And remember that you may feel you are ready and then realize you are not. And that’s ok. It’s part of your journey.
- Remember: You can still be in grief and be ready for another relationship. You don’t just wake up one day and say “hey! I’m done grieving” and get a certificate of completion. It’s a process, not an event. You can however reflect on where you are in your grieving journey. Sometimes a new relationship can even have a positive effect on the grieving process.
- Be open and honest with yourself and those involved. It is natural to one day feel ready and maybe start a new relationship only to realize later on that you are not ready (again, referring to those indicators). Again, there is not really a distinct “right or wrong” in this situation but you also do not want to rush into things – this can create further pain for yourself and pain for others involved. So, take things one day at a time, be open in your communication and relationships, and go gentle on yourself.
- Remember that moving on with someone else does not mean:
- No longer grieving your loved one
- Cheating on your loved one
- That you obviously did not love them
- That you are selfish, or cold hearted
- Or any other judgment that people throw at you that deep, deep inside, you do not believe to be true.
- Get professional help: You will likely experience a range of emotions and complex thoughts. A professional can help you challenge maladaptive and destructive thoughts and beliefs that may arise and help you work through your emotions.
- Surround yourself with a healthy MESS: mental and emotional support system. There will always be people judging you, no matter what you do or don’t do. Build a social network that you feel supported by. And this may or may not include current family and friends.
And lastly, if you are asking how, you know when you will be ready to be in another relationship after losing a loved one, there’s something behind that question that prompted it. Why are you asking/ Why now?
I’ll leave you with a rather powerful challenging question.
What is the answer you would like to hear?