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One of the most difficult but also one of the most important parts of the healing process is finding acceptance within ourselves of all that has happened and changed in our lives.

Unfortunately, since many of the things that have happened are outside of our ability to control or change, we really can’t do anything about them now. They happened. They are unchangeable and nothing we can do will make it any different. 

Those changes certainly include in large part whatever it was that happened to our loved ones that we couldn’t stop or change or fix and of course that our loved ones are not here with us any longer.

Coming to gradually and slowly understand and accept that our loved ones are not coming home, that the place they occupied in our material lives is going to be empty of them forever and nothing we wish or think is going to change that, whether we like it or not, is perhaps one of the hardest and most painful things we need to do during our healing journeys.

There are also a lot more things that have changed in our lives that we may need to find ways to accept as well.

Acceptance is almost essential to building the next part of our lives, to allowing us to start to look for and find ways of thinking, of acting and of living that both honor what was and create what will be as we transition from us, to me all alone. Until we accept what has happened and what has changed, it is difficult to want to even look for alternatives isn’t it?

Acceptance is often a verrrry difficult place to reach. There is often regret, guilt, anger, sadness, denial and probably most of the other emotions that live within grief that we experience and have to work through along the way. The journey is filled with uncertainty and unknowns as we do the work of thinking through all that has happened and deciding or learning how we are going to respond and deal with it. 

Denial can also be a part of the process of reaching or not reaching acceptance. It’s not necessarily a linear process or part of a list of stages we have to go through. The magnitude of what we are experiencing is just so very difficult to believe and come to terms with that sometimes its easier to deny it. Sometimes it’s easier to keep the hope alive in our hearts that we may yet somehow see things turn around and specifically, that we will have our loved ones back in our lives again, that everything will go back to being the way it was. Sadly, that isn’t going to happen. : (  

And so, back to acceptance:

Once it begins to appear, acceptance doesn’t usually come in one single flash of insight or light. It more likely will grow gradually within us over time as it slowly comes into focus. It can also move like our grief does, sometimes we go forward and think we’ve got it and sometimes we go backwards and don’t have it at all and sometimes we stagnate and don’t seem to be going anywhere. These are all part of the process and kind of a “normal” way for us to learn to accommodate the huge changes that have occurred in our lives.

Once acceptance does begin to appear, there may be times when our acceptance is strong and healing and then on some days along the way, often unexpectedly, the reality of what has happened reaches out and grabs us again and the pain of that realization triggers our grief and lack of acceptance back into full intensity, usually returning only for a short time and then that too passes.

As with so many parts of grief, there is no timetable here either. We each reach acceptance in our own time and in our own way and when it happens for us, that’s when it happens. 

It may also be “one thing at a time”, we may find acceptance of part of the changes and not others, different things may come into focus at different times in our journey. 

A maybe “too long” list of (other) things to consider that we may not have thought about that we have to come to accept (temporarily or forever) and deal with in some way in this next part of our lives:

  • Being alone.
  • Living alone.
  • Once our grief has become less severe, finding that we like living alone.
  • Having to do everything our spouse or partner used to do.
  • Figuring out what to change, keep or leave out in our lives without our loved ones.
  • Taking care of all the material world responsibilities by ourselves.
  • Making decisions alone.
  • Traveling alone.
  • Dealing with medical issues alone.
  • Dealing with loneliness.
  • Dealing with sadness.
  • Dealing with finance changes or issues alone.
  • Dealing with living arrangement changes.
  • Raising children alone.
  • Losing old friends. 
  • Losing the future we had planned with our loved one.
  • Knowing what to do if family and/or friends don’t know what to say or avoid us.
  • Having no one to talk to, especially in the evenings.
  • I can’t sleep!
  • My mind keeps racing and looping.
  • I can’t stop crying.
  • Going out to eat or to a movie etc. alone.
  • Needing to make new friends.
  • Not knowing know how to make new friends.
  • Enjoying being with/going out with new friends.
  • Feeling guilty for being with/going out with new friends.
  • Feeling guilty for changing things, for wanting to do things on our own.
  • Knowing we have to move forward.
  • Finding wellness.
  • Being happy.
  • Being ok.
  • Having a good time. 
  • Coming to like living alone.
  • Being “relieved” to not be a caregiver anymore.
  • Learning how to not be a caregiver anymore.
  • Taking care of and being gentle with ourselves.
  • Learning to honor and remember our loved ones without grieving them.
  • Realizing we are no longer actively grieving.
  • Having to build a new life.
  • Learning that we are strong.
  • Others?

Some things we may need to accept doing without (temporarily or forever): 

  • Affection in both physical and emotional ways.
  • Affirmations. 
  • Someone to share the story of our day with. 
  • Someone to hold us when we are sad or need to cry. 
  • Someone to bitch to. 
  • Someone to sit quietly and just be together with.
  • Someone to eat dinner with. 
  • Someone to go out with. 
  • Someone to rub our feet or whose feet we can rub.
  • Your shared purpose in life. 
  • Your future plans.
  • Others?


  • Where are you at in the process of learning to accept what has happened?
  • Is there an aspect of denial in your thinking?
  • What parts of acceptance are you having a hard time coming to grips with?
  • Can you think of ways to overcome those things to help acceptance grow?