Losing someone: The problem with the idea of ‘moving on’

We are all human, we have all loved and we have all, all of us, lost. So often, when we are faced with great loss, there can be a pressure to ‘move on’, to ‘get over it’ and find our way past our grief.  


But what if there is no beyond? What if we are changed irrevocably by whatever has happened to us? What if our lives will never be the same again?

What then?

Moving forwards

Perhaps then, the most we can do is to move forward with our lives alongside the loss. When we lose someone dear to us, the grief itself can be a part of remembering them. It can be an important link to the past, and a way of honouring their memories and lives. I think we instinctively know this. 

Perhaps we don’t need to move ‘on’ at all. Perhaps we just need to find a way to make room for our grief as we move forwards, gently, and with great care and compassion for ourselves.

You are not responsible for how your grief makes people feel

People can find it hard to know what to say to us when we are grieving.  Sometimes this can make us feel as though we need to pack our feelings away, we might feel ashamed or embarrassed, and can add to the feeling that we should simply ‘get over’ our loss. Perhaps they even explicitly say this. 

But we are not responsible for making people feel comfortable. I actually think that talking about the hard stuff can be an act of generosity as we are refusing to be bound up by the societal taboo that can surround grief and mental health (though much less now, I think). 

(That’s not to say that we are responsible for challenging societal silence around grief at the time of intense sadness, that would be very unfair! More that we can feel like we can if we want to).

Living again

It can feel very difficult to start living again. Perhaps guilt will surface as we find ourselves doing the things that our loved one cannot. Go gently. Regrets might keep us tightly bound. It can feel hard to let ourselves be happy again, or take joy in the many beautiful things that still exist.

Get support, and talk about all these complex and knotty feelings to either a good and understanding friend, or to a therapist if you need. 

Complicated grief

If our relationship with our loved one was complicated, the grief process can be much more complex. For example, if we did not get what we needed from a parent when we were little, or we both feared and loved the person who has died. It is normal for a loss like this to be difficult to digest.

It is important to find a place to talk about and honour the complex and often contradictory feelings that might arise in this case. A therapist can be a useful ally. 


Grief is a normal and natural expression of love. It hurts, because we have loved. It is important. It will change you.  Find all the support you need, and go gently.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Lewes, East Sussex, BN7 2LE
Written by Jo Baker, Integrative Counselling BSc
Lewes, East Sussex, BN7 2LE

Experienced and accredited psychotherapeutic counsellor, Jo specialises in individual therapy for women. She works both online and from her private practice in Lewes, East Sussex, in peaceful rooms at the Quaker Meeting House overlooking their beautiful gardens.

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