Kansas City HospiceHow Can I Go On? by Jacque Amweg, LMSW, Grief Support Specialist with Kansas City Hospice.

It seems impossible, unthinkable, that life goes on now. But it does. I drove over the bridge at sunset and saw the beauty of the swirling pink sunset on the flowing surface of the river. I saw a car with “Just Married” painted on the back window. The stocker at the grocery store keeps refilling the shelves.

Yes, life goes on, but how can it, when I am in this empty place and I have no wish to go along with it? I used to see the pink sunset on the river with deep appreciation for the wonder of nature. Now I feel numb to this beauty and sometimes even resentful. How dare you, nature? Mourn with me!

I know I have my own body with its own blood type and its own scars and its own creaky joints. I know that I am my own person who has lived a life that is wholly definable by my own story, my own beliefs, my own personality.

Still, without my loved one, somehow I’m having trouble figuring out where I fit now. Life has been enriched and in some ways, defined by my connection with this person. Every decision I’ve made for the last many years has been filtered through the needs and wishes of this person. It has been “we” for at least that long. We are going on vacation. We need a new dishwasher. We had a fight. What does it mean now, to think of life without him or her?

Working toward acceptance

William Worden, in his book, Grief Counseling and Grief Therapy, writes about “accepting the reality of the loss” as one of the four tasks of grief. He writes that belief and disbelief are “intermittent” as we work through this task. It’s understandable that I would occasionally deny the truth of the death. I pay a price for believing it is true. The reality is gut-wrenching. So it’s natural to be in a state of protective denial at times.

It’s also natural to consider what it would be like to still be with them. Some people ask the question, “What if I were to die? Could I be with the one I love then?” The pull toward our loved one is still strong.

No matter what spiritual belief is present, it is our aliveness that makes death so painful, and life so meaningful. It’s so unfair that I live to see pink sunsets on the river and she has died. Yet, there are pink sunsets and weddings and there is cereal on the shelves at the grocery store.

How to go on?

It seems that the answer to aliveness is in the telling of the stories and sharing the depth of the grief. In fact, many songs and stories have been written about living with grief. Whether it’s LeAnn Rhimes singing”How can I live without you” or one of the many covers of Badfinger’s “I can’t live,” it’s something that resonates.

Treasured photo albums and scrapbooks are beautiful memorials that keep us connected in a healthy way.

There is meaning in grief to be shared and meaning in the life that is mourned. There are listeners who want to know about it. Grief support groups are amazing places to be in touch with others who “get it.”

Kansas City Hospice Grief Support Specialists are available to support and listen. 816.363.2600.

More Grief Resources

Visit more grief resources on our website at kchospice.org/grief

Find more grief articles on our blog!

The mission of Kansas City Hospice & Palliative Care is to bring expert care, peace of mind, comfort, guidance, and hope to people who are affected by life-limiting illness or by grief. And, our vision: each person in our community is valued from life through death and each family is supported in their grief.