by Jan McDaniel
The word “move” enters the life of a survivor a lot after the loss of a loved one, mostly in the form of advice from other people but also in finding a path forward. In both positive and negative ways, variations on these themes pushed and pulled me along after the death of my husband. Eventually – and fairly early on – I began to embrace the ideas that empowered me, leaving the others to fall away.
Often spoken by well-meaning friends or family members, the conversation sometimes does more harm than good --“It’s been a few weeks now. It’s time to move on.” They are thinking about the reality of the situation and probably want to encourage a return to normalcy.
A survivor does understand the finality of death, but emotionally, he has been deeply wounded by the loss. It will take time to heal. How much time? That depends of the survivor. Healing is a complicated journey, the twists and turns of which are unique to each person.
Normalcy? Significant loss, especially traumatic loss, changes us. We will not return to the people we once were but will incorporate the loss into our lives in different ways. Healing does not mean forgetting, but it does mean bringing health, wellness, and purpose back into our lives.
Exercise is one form of moving that can help make that happen. The body suffers after loss just like the mind and heart. Moving that body brings an increased sense of hope and many physical benefits.
Then there are those moves from one home to another or even from one geographical area to somewhere else. Circumstances can dictate this kind of move. A drop in income (in the case of a lost spouse or single parent), job-related changes, or the desire to be closer to family support could necessitate a move. Whenever this happens – immediately or several years into the journey – moving can add stress or be a time of renewal and fresh opportunities, usually both.
My favorite term is “moving forward.” To me, this phrase best describes the inch-by-inch healing that has brought me life-sustaining peace. The aftermath of suicide is full of hurdles, pit-falls, obstacles and set-backs, but each small victory brought me the hope I needed to continue, to live.
Wherever you are on your journey, think about how “moving” can help. You might be surprised at what you discover.
Jan McDaniel, a writer from the southeastern United States, lost her husband to suicide in 2007. As a blog columnist and community forum moderator for the Alliance of Hope for suicide loss survivors, she writes about survival, connection, and hope. www.LightThatBringsHope.com