Do you ever get over a loss?

Jess with her friends

One of the most viewed bereavement advice pages on our website is 'How long does grief last?' Blogger Jess Bacon grabs this topic by the horns and shares her experience of being told to "get over" her Dad's death and "move on".

We all have that friend, family member or friend of a friend who likes to comment on all our life choices; who, after a tragic loss, will tell you that they have decided that you have grieved for long enough, and now you must "get over it" and "move on".

My initial response to the "get over it" people was silence. I'd be insulted and stunned that someone was commenting on my grieving process, but as time passed I began to wonder 'Are they right?'

It became a massive insecurity for me that I was still not over it, and I began to wonder if that was my fault. Had I prolonged my grief? Had I dwelled for too long on losing my Dad? Not at all.

After a year had passed I'd already got my GCSEs and completed my AS Levels. Life was still moving forward, and changing rapidly, but I wasn't over it.

Now, years later, I still get told by friends to "get over it". And the difference is that I know that they mean well. But, following Dad's death, I quickly realised that being told to "get over it" is about as helpful as saying: 'Why not try to fuse your bones together to fix your broken arm?'

Yet this isn't your friend or relative's fault – maybe they have not experienced the loss you have, or they don't know what to say, or they simply don't like talking about mental health, death, grief and loneliness – and I'm sorry to burst some bubbles here, but you will never get over it.

Please disregard that myth right now, as well as the guilt you feel for not already having gotten over it.

"Life simply grows around it"

You never actually get over a loss, it doesn't ever get easier and you don't ever magically forget about it.

It will always be a defining event in your life and therefore it never really gets any smaller either. In my experience, life simply grows around it, so it's less in your face all the time.

I was told that this was the case five years ago when my Dad passed away and, five years later as a twenty-one-year-old, it is still what I'd tell anyone going through a loss.

You never get over it, and that is normal. Well, as normal as normal is.

Embracing acceptance

I'm no expert, but having had several rounds of counselling and cognitive behavioural therapy after friends and teachers have told me to "get over" my Dad's death, I can say that I'm not over it.

Not in the way they'd want anyway. Instead, what I can tell them is that I live with it, it's part of my life and I've accepted that.

I'm grateful for my Dad and the time I spent with him, and how exactly would I ever get over the fact I lost him? I couldn't. However, I have a happy and full life around my loss. I see that time in my life as a small part of the big bright canvas painting of my life, rather than as the sole focus with everything else blurred in the background.

That is how I know that I am not over it, but that I can live with it just as I live with all my other failures, experiences and adventures.

Are you grieving?

Does your experience of loss match Jess's? Share your views in the comments below or with others in our online community.

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Jess Bacon
Jess Bacon
Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice

Jess's dad was cared for at Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice in Peterborough. Since he died, she has found solace in blogging.