Planning After Loss


A friend was saying how she cannot seem to plan anymore since her Dad passed away. I remember having the same feeling when my son was killed. I struggled with, “What’s the point, obviously life will just do what it wants.” I couldn’t think in long-term goals anymore. My map I had been using for my life was useless.

I have a feeling it happens to many people who get thrust into something they did not plan.  We thought we had control, then found out we didn’t. We may need to see ourselves with a new identity or create a life without that job or adjust to life after a chronic illness diagnosis. We may lose our sense of direction.

Here are a few ways to slowly get back into planning. As always, go at your own pass with what seems right for you.

  • So start with a small goal just for you – whether it’s starting to exercise, going to the movies alone, or getting a new haircut. Bring in a sense of control over something little.
  • Your life will need a different routine then before. Make sure you create a morning and evening routine that is especially nurturing.
  • One thing to nurture is your spirituality, which will help during this time. Take time to pray, give gratitude, go to church, meditate or whatever your spirituality practice is. Maybe schedule a retreat where you can process your loss.
  • Do some financial clean-up – is it time to tackle or debt? Save more? Add more to the retirement plan? Get your documents together?
  • What new roles and skills do you need? Get people to teach you, Google it and practice to incorporate these into your life.
  • Allow yourself not to have the clarity for awhile. You are integrating and you will go wrong sometimes. Let yourself be open to new possibilities after the fear of loss.
  • Depending on your loss, family dynamics may change. Maybe you are the oldest generation now. Or you need to start sending the cards your wife used to send. Think about what this loss means in this area.
  • Plan times with friends when you are ready. They can help you through your grief (or just some dishes for you.) Some relationships will grow closer, others may distance themselves. Perhaps join a support group. Or a hobby group.
  • Loss is a reminder that life is short. What would you love to do?
  • Take a class in something that interests you. You may find more direction trying new things out. Some things that you used to enjoy, you may not like anymore.
  • Notice if you are making your life smaller. During grief there is a closing off and going inward. Decide when you are ready to expand again.
  • When you have moved through having no energy – what causes, beliefs, relationships or activities can you give your emotional energy to?

As you move with the questions, “What now?” and “Will I ever be happy again” know that this won’t be a straight path. You won’t  get over it. Which is why it is so crucial to re-build your life – a little bit at a time.

1 Comment

  • Beautiful blog post, Beth.

    I think this is such a useful blog for loss of any kind – dreams that are no longer, relationships that have changed, and in fact, I’m printing it out to use in my annual review.

    thank you!

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