Love after Loss
Life after loss is lonely and frightening, regardless of the people who support you and surround you after loss, you still feel that ache of being alone. Alone in your pain, alone in your suffering, alone in your grief and lonely and afraid of the future you face after a loss.
We all cope with loss differently, and loneliness is one of the challenges of grief. You can be in a room filled with people yet feel alone, and sometimes the feeling of loneliness can make us fearful of doing things with others, and we can isolate ourselves, which increases that lonely feeling.
Most of these feelings are due to the need to feel loved but the fear that others simply do not understand our pain or that if you open yourself up to love again, you think yourself may be hurt or face the fact that we all die and the fear of losing a loved one yet again increases our fear and tends to make us isolate even more.
We can feel so lonely that it’s sometimes easier to be alone to pretend to be something we aren’t. People in our lives don’t understand, and we become exhausted, trying to make them see why we hurt so deeply and feel so alone.
I’ve shifted between all possible scenarios in my life after loss, and as one who grieves the loss of my soulmate several years ago, I am often asked, advised that I should find love again. We all have a different timetable of when we feel emotionally and ready to find love still; for me, it took several years, but I have discovered the healing in my heart to open it up again to the possibility.
So how do you find love again, how do you face dating and who and when to start dating and how to open your heart to love after loss? It is hard, and you have lost your best friend, the one you created a life with, who supported you, who lived, loved and laughed with, and the one that completed you. How do you find that again without comparisons or even feeling like you are not honoring the memory of your loved one?
First, you must get to an emotional place of healing, one where you can smile at the memories and know that that love you shared was unique and beautiful, but that new love can be different and beautiful without feeling you are compromising the memories.
Second, you need to find completeness in yourself, no matter how much you loved and loved that relationship, you now need to learn to find completeness in you. It may take time to learn to love yourself as a single person and find happiness in spending time just with yourself. Once you can do this and realize that the best person to love after loss is yourself, you start to lessen the burden of loneliness, and life begins anew. Though you still miss your loved one, finding wholeness in yourself will open your heart up to a future of hope.
How do you begin to find ways to fulfill your life as an individual, first you have to learn to enjoy your alone time and use it as an opportunity to get to know you, listen to yourself and cherish and love yourself. Find your identity in you, push yourself to do things that you enjoy, and spend quiet reflection on what you want out of life.
Once you feel ready, keep in mind that to love again the way before loss does not work. When we lose someone we loved but is no longer with us, how can we even imagine enjoying anyone else, our minds cannot comprehend it. Part of those feelings will always linger, but if you can acknowledge that your feelings of “never again” may still be there, that is a huge step and okay.
Knowing that you may never love the same way again is part of the process but accepting that is part of the healing and readiness to find a new and different love that can be just as beautiful.
Understand that fear may grasp you. Once you start dating again and feel hopeful in a new relationship, you most likely will be paralyzed with fear at times, and that is normal, but with the right person, the worries will fade.
When you have been through loss the fear associated with dating can stagnant you. There are several aspects to the fear. First, the fear of feeling you are not honoring your loved one, the fear of not being able to give it your all, the fear of yet another loss. This may manifest itself into you not giving it your all, not being forthcoming (I believe it is critical to share your past love and your fears once you are in a relationship so they can understand) and sometimes being indifferent in the fear that they will leave you and you will have the hope for a new love again. When you have been through loss, it takes time to go back to love.
As we stated before, it is essential to love yourself through the journey, and that also means finding someone who also loves themselves and others.
Be picky about who you date, do not date to feel you must start to get out there again, that will not work. Be yourself and hold your standards high and date caring, kind and understanding people. They will need to understand and accept that your loved one will always be in your heart, no comparison, no competition and when we find these people it builds a trusting, loving relationship.
Keep in mind that a second chance at love is first about connecting with ourselves, being with others who understand us, and accept our pain, which is the building block for a healthy, new relationship.
Embrace yourself, explore the things you love, love yourself, and find your identity as a single person.
Remember a few additional tips.
- Take small steps, and be patient, learn to love yourself before you open your heart again.
- Be kind to yourself, write down specific things you can do to love yourself ( a walk, a hobby, exercise, find a passion you love).
- Spend time with trusted friends you enjoy, go for coffee and learn to live outside of loneliness.
- Process and accept life and love will be different and new but can be rewarding.
- List the qualities you are looking for in a new relationship (do not settle).
- Honor your loved one and acknowledge that they will also be with you at the same time knowing you can find happiness while still enjoying the one you have lost.
- Be you and do not settle for less, you deserve happiness and can have both the love of loss and a future of hope.
Summoning the emotional strength to find the courage to trust in love again can be a long and challenging journey. It may be hard to reopen our hearts, but finding love still though maybe a road that requires patience and self-reflection, can be worth taking.
Love and Peace,