A Visualization: How to Choose Healing and Growth

If you find yourself here, it’s likely because you’ve recently experienced the death of someone you love.  You may have had time to prepare, or the death may have come suddenly.  Either way, the expectations you had for your life and your future were thwarted; taken from you without warning.  And as devastating as loss can be, opportunities will arise for you to choose to continue focusing on your sadness or to choose to shift your focus toward healing and self-growth.

It is choosing a mindset that is specifically focused on overcoming grief and grieving.  That mindset is that grief is more about life than it is about death.  The grief you feel is specifically about your life and how you will choose to live from this moment on. It is your grief and you are its owner.  Christina Rasmussen writes it this way, “Life after Loss is…choosing to start over when you’d rather not.”

So, how do you create a shift in mindset away from pain and sadness and toward healing and self-growth?  How do you begin to start over after loss?  Take a moment to read the visualization below as a first step.

Imagine yourself walking along a path toward the future you expected.  See yourself walking confidently because you know exactly where you are headed.  Suddenly, out of nowhere, a heavy brick wall drops down in front of you blocking your path.  You stand in front of the wall.  You reach your hand out to touch the wall and feel the cold, hard brick that won’t budge no matter how hard you push.  The wall before you reaches high to the sky and as far to the right and left as you can see.  That wall is your loss.   You can no longer see where you were headed and the path that was before you is no longer available.

You look around, trying to decide what to do next.  You are overwhelmed with emotion.  Grief takes over and misery sets in.  What you are feeling stinks, it isn’t fair and I wish I could take the pain away.

I can’t take your pain away but I can tell you that what happened to you doesn’t have to define you.  You aren’t sentenced to be miserable forever.  You are not a victim.  You have a choice.

Your only choice is to turn.  You can walk one step at a time in a new direction.  There are many other paths you can choose.  You may need to crawl at first and that’s okay.   You mindset begins to shift.  You begin to realize that the path you were on is no longer available but there is another path for you to take.  The path is different, yes, but it doesn’t mean that that path is worse.

Now imagine yourself five years from now, with a whole new reality.  You world is full of meaning and purpose.  You are surrounded by the things that are truly important to you.  The people in your life are genuine and purposeful.  You are better than you were because you have a knowledge you didn’t want or expect that has led you to a new and different future that honors the one or ones you’ve lost.  See yourself as your future self.  You are stronger now and know who you are and why you are here.  You feel love, peace, and a new sense of purpose for the life you own.

Now bring yourself back to the wall before you.  Touch the cold, hard brick again.  Say “goodbye” to the wall that no longer defines who you are.  Turn.  Choose a path.  Walk or crawl to who you were meant to become.    Your future awaits you.  Who you choose to become is your contribution to those you love.  They need you. I need you. The world needs you.   There is hope and you do not have to walk the path you choose on your own.


Catherine McNulty

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After losing her infant son in 2011, Catherine embarked on a journey to do more than survive grief. The loss forever changed the trajectory of her life and sent her looking for meaning and purpose for the life she was given. She channeled the love for her son into her own healing, self-growth and personal empowerment. Today, she has created a framework to grief that disrupts conventional ways of looking at loss. She challenges her clients to step outside of a victim mindset and regain control of how they navigate grief. She teaches how to grow through grief and encourages speaking openly about grief to break down the walls of silence around grief. Catherine lives in San Diego with her family where she speaks, writes, and offers coaching to those who want to do more than just survive grief. She is a board member of Empty Cradle and volunteers at Miracle Babies and the Ronald McDonald House. Her business, Grief INSPIRED supports those who are grieving and guides them to create a new normal that honors the ones they’ve lost.

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