Going the distance

Life after loss — Moving on doesn't mean forgetting

By Edward T. Creagan, M.D. February 23, 2016

Need more help?

If the stress in your life is more than you can cope with, get help right away.

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
    1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • Go to the nearest hospital or emergency room
  • Call your physician, health provider or clergy
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness
    1-800-950-NAMI (6264)

Like some of you who posted comments, I've been touched by the tragic death of a young person. In these circumstances I often ask my patients, "How do you deal with this tragic loss?" And the answer is fairly consistent: "You don't deal with it."

You simply move on as best you can, one day at a time, and acknowledge that there is a new normal. Things are never again the way they were. The loss is part of who you are. For example, someone who has lost a child will be reminded of it every time he or she is asked, "How many children do you have?"

Let me share with you a story. A patient came to our clinic and I noticed this person had a religious tattoo that included two names. The patient shared with me that these were close friends who tragically died under unusual circumstances. The tattoo was a visual reminder that these individuals would never be forgotten.

Now let me quickly shift gears. As I have touched on before, there are medical circumstances when you need the help of the professional, such as a heart or kidney specialist. The guidance and support of a trusted advisor or counselor can also be invaluable when you're dealing with grief, just to let you know that you're not going crazy and that at some point the pain will lessen. It won't completely go away, but it becomes less intense.

Please weigh in on a subject with which we all struggle.

Originally published February 8, 2012.


Edward T. Creagan, M.D.

Follow on Twitter: @EdwardCreagan

Join the discussion at #Stress.

Feb. 23, 2016