Reconciling Your Past, Present and Future After Loss

When you’re mourning the loss of a loved one, it’s very natural and easy to get trapped in your memories of the past and how things used to be. Let’s take a moment to examine your past, as well as the present and the future, and how this exercise can help you to better understand the grief process.

If you will, imagine your past, present and future like three pieces of paper all tied together with a string running through the middle of each. If you were to pick up one end of the string and dangle it in the air, the papers would not fly away for they are inextricably connected – one leading to the next.

Although they each have an impact on the other, Marcel Pagnol states, “The reason people find it so hard to be happy is that they always see the past better than it was, the present worse than it is and the future less resolved than it will be.”

When you remember the PAST, it’s easy to block out the negatives and recall only a rosy picture. Although, it’s great to remember your past glowingly, try not to romanticize it so much that the present pales in comparison to it.

In the PRESENT, with so much to do and so little time, it’s very easy to get caught up in the minutia of your life. You can become vulnerable to a sense of being overwhelmed, or you may not be able to see the forest for the trees.

Keep in mind that you will encounter ups and down in every era of your life. At times, it’s important to step back and put current difficulties in perspective so you can figure out the best way to move through them.

And then there is the FUTURE. If you’re always worrying about the future – and this leads to chronic indecision and subsequent procrastination – you can freeze in place and end up avoiding any forward moving action. This, in turn, can lead to more worry.

In essence, you’ve created a vicious circle that is of no benefit to you. So, although procrastination has its place (for example, when you pause to digest new lessons before tackling your next obstacle), you also have to learn to temper it and find the right balance between it and total inaction.

While it’s a very good idea to always keep an “eye” on the future and move forward towards your goals, it’s equally important to live in and enjoy the present moment before it speeds by – never to be recaptured again.

While still mourning your loved one, make sure to also cherish all the small moments of joy you can find with the family and friends who still surround you. As you have learned through your loss, the only time that is promised to you and them is now.

Ellen Gerst is a grief and relationship coach and author. For more coping with grief tips, join her on Pinterest and Facebook. View her roster of her books on coping with grief by clicking here.

Ellen Gerst

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Ellen Gerst is a Life Coach who specializes in grief and relationships, an author, and speaker. Widowed young at the age of 39, she writes from a “been there/done that” perspective. Losing her husband to suicide after 20 years of marriage set her on a path to finding her true self and the inner strength she possessed. She shares both her journey and her perspective on how to move gracefully and successfully through the grief journey. She is the author of “Suddenly Single," which is a compendium of articles covering the practical, emotional and spiritual aspects of the grief journey. She went on to capture the continuation of her story in the sequel to "Suddenly Single," aptly named: “Love After Loss: Writing The Rest of Your Story.” “Love After Loss” is a blueprint on how one can find new love after the loss of a partner from death, divorce, or break-up. It includes coaching exercises; how to Internet date; and how to have a healthy and successful relationship – all intertwined with true life dating tips and stories. Ellen has penned many other books on coping with grief, as well as others on such subjects as dating and relationships, caregiving for aging parents, spirituality, confidence building, the power of positive thought, suicide awareness, teen pregnancy prevention, fitness and weight loss, and social media and networking. She is also the co-editor of an anthology of real life changing stories, “Thin Threads of Grief & Renewal.” The stories tell of untold grief and how each author found personal renewal after his/her great loss. It is an inspirational volume for those mourning any sort of loss. To listen to Ellen's radio show: Click Here Visit Ellen on her website at where she has various free downloads on coping with grief and finding love after loss. Join Ellen on Facebook for every day tips on finding love after loss and coping with grief. Finding Love After Loss Words of Comfort To Pave Your Journey Of Loss


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  • raymond kent says:

    just found this site,i am in england so far away from you,but my grief is just the same.I lost my soul mate and best friend to Cancer,she was only ill for ten days,it was so aggressive,and incurable.Its been nearly a year now,but i miss her every day,just wondering if i will ever really be able to have something approaching a “normal life”again,or will i have this pain forever.Seems there is some hope though,so who knows.

  • My wife of 12 years and 2 children, a daughter 13 (my first born out of wedlock, but brought up by us) and a son 10, died of heart attack at home on 20 May 2014 at around 12pm. We lived only the four of us at our house at the time. She was a part-time student at a local university here in Namibia (Africa). We arrived at home with the kids from school at around 13h30. The kids rushed quickly inside to meet and hug their mum as usual. Before I could get out of the car, the kids came rushing back to the car, crying and shouting: “Mommy is dead!….” I rushed out to find out and found her there on the floor. Not knowing what and what not to do, I called out to neighbours and put her in the car and rushed her to the emergency unit of the local private hospital. She was declared dead on arrival. It’s now exactly a month since she was buried. We are trying to make the best out of the worst. She has been a cardiac patient for years but we didn’t exect her to leave so soon. Our wounds arestill new, still very deep and extremely painful. My boy , though the youngest, appears to be the strongest of us all. He is the one comforting whoever is found crying, including myself. My daughter has resorted to crying as a sleeping dose, almost very day. Last night, I decided yet again that we all sleep together in my bed, which I usually shares with my boy, after their mom’s death. We are seeing counselling and are also attending prayers sessions, but I know we have a very long way to go… I will accept whatever help and comfort I can get. I thank you.