Is it time to “get back to life”? Grief doesn’t work that way.

It’s kind of a job hazard – when I talk about the realities of grief to non-grieving people, it’s never too long before someone says, “well, yeah, but eventually you have to get back to life, right? You have to eventually get over it.”

Get over it. Get back to life.

Get back to life. Have you heard that phrase from people outside of your grief? Even people who truly love and care about you might be pushing you to get back out in to the world, live your life. They may even tell you you have so much to live for.

The thing is, the people who often say these things actually do have a life to go back to. They may be deeply impacted by the death of the one you love, but if their family is intact, if there is no gaping hole in their daily life, they just aren’t going to be affected the same way you are.

I don’t necessarily mean that you had to live with the person you’ve lost in order to be the most impacted by their death. Not at all.

What I mean is that, for many of us, the people we’ve lost were such an integral part of every single day, every single facet of our lives, there really is no “normal life” without them.

There is no part of our universe, our daily lived existence, that they didn’t touch.

There truly is no life to “get back to.”

Eventually, perhaps, new things will begin to grow around the crater that has erupted in the center of your life. The hole itself will remain. I don’t mean that as a downer, either. I mean that a central loss, a loss that shifts the axis of the universe, is not something that simply shrinks over time.

Getting back to life can't always happen inside grief. Instead, we can come to ourselves, to each other, with kindness and respect for what cannot be resumed. Click To Tweet

We – you, me, all of us – will not return to the life that was. That’s simply not possible. What we can do is bow to the damaged parts, the holes blown in our lives. We can wonder what parts of ourselves survived the blast. We can come to ourselves, and our irrevocably changed worlds, with kindness and respect.

That’s the real work of grief – to show up with kindness, every day, many times a day. Somehow, if we don’t see it as “fixing” your grief, or “getting back to life,” it makes all that just a little bit easier.

We talk about this a lot in the Writing Your Grief community: how to show yourself kindness, how to survive what is yours to live, and how to respond to those who just want to see you “get better,” without understanding that it’s not that simple. Our next course opens soon. Click this link to see how you might join this gang of fiercely loving broken hearts.

How about you? How do you see the work of grief, for yourself? What could the phrase, “getting back to life” mean for you, if we take it out of the “get over it realm” and think of it differently? Let us know in the comments. Your ideas might help others who are really struggling with this one.