How to Move from Grief to Your Next Dream

Every day since COVID and Shelter-in-Place, my friend, Sue, said it feels like it is either Monday or Saturday…and sometimes it just feels like “day.” Some clients say this time is like a strange vacation without the bar, the beach, the rides, or tourist stops; others say: it’s all work - from 8am until 1am - because “Work knows where we are 24/7.”

This disorientation is tolerable when we imagine we will soon engage again, as we have since the dawn of humankind. While obeying the rules that keep us all safe and healthy, there is part of our brain patiently waiting for “return to normal.”

This week, many of us realized that “we are not on vacation anymore,” or, that this is not a short-term, crash-work project. These realizations, along with daily announcements that further delay our return to “normalcy,” may compel us to notice dark, heavy feelings that accompany us wherever we go – or stay. If you find yourself with those feelings, you can accelerate your way through them by making use of Kubler Ross’s Change Curve, which informs us of the stages from grief to our next dream.

If you find yourself near the bottom of the curve, you may be experiencing loss. Loss of loved ones or work or school or recognition of hard-earned accomplishments or comforting habits or any number of life moments that were to be celebrated and embraced.

If you feel low energy, here is one, important reason: none of us got to say good-bye. None of us got closure of the life we were obliged to leave behind.

It is like the person we loved, and may even have taken for granted, left us unexpectedly, and is now missing in action. That is the hardest kind of loss to grieve.

For me, it is like being with my Mother, who has dementia. She is there, but not there. Will she come back? Will she show up again? My inner child hoped and anticipated with each visit, year after year until there is was a point when grieving her loss could not wait until her “actual” passing. She is simply not coming back.

And so it is with our institutions, that stand silently before us; the services that advanced our health and wellbeing stay empty; and hugs with friends, family, and neighbors are prohibited. The institutions, services, and loved ones are there, but they are not there for us – not the way they always have been.

The important thing to know is this: when there is an ending, but no closure or ritual to signal the end, a part of us remains in “wait,” prolonging the dark, heavy energies that may hover around the edges of even the happy moments.

That “waiting part” does not allow us to fully attend to or invest in anything new.

While this blog seems less upbeat than other Higher Perspective blogs, it is sitting in the truth of this stage of transformation…grieving our loss before we move on.

This is not an easy part. So what can we do?

Here is a process meant to help you advance toward the upper part of the Kubler Ross Change Curve by honoring your success and grieving your losses:

  • Create a Memory of all the moments you want to remember from your pre-COVID year through a Pinterest-like image, a montage, collage, song, painting, poem or journal entry
  • Stand back, reflect on your Memory, and honor what the pre-COVID year meant to you and for you – what you learned, how hard you worked, beautiful smells, sounds and physical touch, character building moments
  • Place your artwork on your wall, mirror or refrigerator
  • Thank yourself for engaging in life, learning those lessons, or even surviving that year

After three days…

  • create another Memory artwork of all the parts of your life that COVID interrupted, the parts that you wanted to play out, or those you looked forward to - the dreams you cannot fulfill according to plan
  • Place your Memory on your wall, mirror or refrigerator for three more days
  • Check-in with it regularly to see what feelings emerge
  • Welcome your feelings – be they rage, anger, disappointment, frustration, despair or sadness
  • Feel those feelings honestly. Grieve/cry if you want
  • Say good-bye to those dreams
  • When you are finished, release the artwork in any way that feels best to you

When you honor your losses as clearly as you celebrate your success, you allow all parts of you a voice in the building of your life’s story. This way, you will not find your losses making life unstable for you later, as you feel the rug under which you shoved those feelings coming out from under you.

Honestly feeling loss accelerates the grief process and allows you to move toward new life with greater clarity, strength, and energy.

In the next blog, we can talk about “Life Inside COVID.” When grief is released, you can create a narrative about what you have and are deciding to do inside the COVID darkness, and how you want to tell that story in years to come.

For now, remember that life is a circle of hellos and good-byes. So highlight the joys of your pre-COVID year, bless whatever happened, grieve the losses, and say good-bye… before you say “hello” to a new dream.

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Therese Rowley, Ph.D.

As a skilled intuitive, consultant, and thought leader, Dr. Rowley supports leaders making strategic decisions with intuitive data and deepens their access to intuition. Her work with Fortune 500 and smaller company leaders in facilitating large scale change in industries such as telecommunications, manufacturing, market research, marketing/communications, real estate development, and financial services spans three decades.


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