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As we near the end of this year, I wanted to leave you with some inspiration and things to noodle on as we close out 2023 and say a big hello to 2024.
One way I love to do this, whether entering a new year or not, is to do some visualization. Visualization is an amazing thing to do whether or not you’re grieving, let’s be real!
But I find that, with grievers especially, we can be so lacking in hope, a way forward, direction, and any semblance of a good, full life after what we’ve been through. Loss and adversity have a nasty way of stripping that from us.
But not to fear! I assure you, and I know this not only from my own experience but those whom I’ve coached, visualization exercises, prompts, and meditations are super powerful and very empowering as well.
These can leave us feeling this semblance of hope and optimism and perhaps even some excitement when we feel like we have little left in us.
With that, I’m sharing 7 ways to practice visualizing your best life after loss today. This is perfect for going into a new season of life or year, or can be done on any ol’ day. Zero pressure here, that’s the beauty of it!
A quick note before diving in…
Now, I want to mention that these will be pretty high-level for the sake of this blog post, but my Intentional Life After Loss Membership and Community is where we dig into this and take these actions and steps further, into our own hands. To make this a tangible and forward-thinking aspect of your life and processing of your grief. That is the priority in this membership and community.
Getting you back on your feet, feeling not only a sense of normalcy again but raising your the frequency and energy around you so you can really start to feel like there’s more out there for you, for there to be things to get excited about, after or even as you’re going through a difficult time. There’s no bad time to start here.
Explore Values and Priorities
Before we even dive head-first into this process, I think it’s important to reflect on your core values, and priorities, and get in touch with why this process and visualizing your best, most fulfilling life is so important to you. So, do some thinking here.
In fact, I challenge you to take these questions I’m about to throw at you and journal about it, or write down your responses. If you’re feeling a little adventurous, perhaps answer them in a voice note on your phone so you can really hear the inflection in your voice and what lights you up versus not.
Here are some questions to ponder…
- What matters most to you?
- What brings you a sense of purpose and fulfillment?
- What sparks joy for you?
- What kind of life do you envision for yourself?
- Where do you live? What do you do for work? Who surrounds you?
- When you think about these things, how does it make you feel? Is it expansive, does it contract you and overwhelm you… close your eyes and gauge how you’re feeling.
- What is something you’ve never explored doing before, but always wanted to?
- What if today was your last day here, what is it that you wish you could have done, or done differently?
- Most importantly, WHY do you want these things for yourself and those around you?
That “why” is critical, because that’s what you will continue coming back to when things get tough. When you might want to give up or it feels too overwhelming or exhausting. But this self-discovery is crucial in guiding your vision for the future, and answering questions like this are a really important way to start this visualization process off on the right foot. It sets the tone, gets us thinking, and inspires us when we’re feeling less than after everything we’ve been through.
Set Realistic Expectations
Especially in grief and after a difficult loss (or multiple), understanding that the process of rebuilding your life is gradual and unique to you is really important for level-setting. It’s not about tamping down your dreams, though. I want you to dream bigger than you’ve ever dreamt here. Setting realistic expectations isn’t saying, “man… I really want this, but this is so out of line. This isn’t for me. There’s no way this is possible.”
To which I say, says who?! Who says anything on your list isn’t something you can embody, explore, or achieve? Don’t belittle yourself or your hopes and desires here. When I talk about setting realistic expectations it’s understanding that you need to be patient with yourself as you navigate through the healing journey, because this does not happen overnight.
We can get excited, have the best of intentions, want to do ALL the things… and I believe in all of that for you. And I want you to, too! But we also owe it to ourselves and our grief to process it all in due time, and loss adds a layer of complexity here.
Working Through The Complexities of Grief
Because as we’re doing this, we’re also trying not to forget and honor our losses. We’re working through a lot of complicated emotions and shifts in our reality that can make this process a little difficult, overwhelming or something we even feel guilty for doing.
We want to move forward in a way that incorporates these things as a part of our story, as a part of our journey and who we are now. That’s a really important piece of the puzzle that can’t be overlooked. We might be triggered by something along the way. We might feel guilt over taking the time to visualize these things for ourselves when a part of us feels like we’re leaving someone or something behind. That’s all valid, but it also can’t and shouldn’t stop us.
Create a Vision Board
Y’all, I love vision boards! I remember doing my first one at my first corporate job back in college when I worked for Gap, and I loved it so much I have done it every single year since.
Visualizing your goals and desires can be a really eye-opening, fun, and effective practice. If you don’t do this already, consider creating a vision board that represents the life you want to lead. But I want you to think outside the box here. Go beyond just wanting to take that trip to Hawaii next year and throwing a photo of Oahu on there.
As you likely know, the idea is to include images, words, and symbols that resonate with your aspirations short term and long term. Perhaps fitness goals, hobbies you envision yourself learning, or languages you want to learn.
On mine, for example, I have not only photos of more tangible things I’d like and envision for myself, but also words that really resonate with me that will carry me throughout the year. Words like abundance, alignment, embodiment, and opportunity. When I close my eyes and think about what I want for myself in the following year, the vibes and energy I want around me, those words really resonated with me, so I incorporated them into the design.
How Vision Boards Can Help
Vision boards can really help with the motivational aspect, which for us as grievers is really so important. Motivation can be hard to come by when we’re in the thick of grief, so while I certainly don’t want you to rush this process and it’s good to be gentle with yourself, it’s a delicate balance of pushing ourselves out of our shell vs. knowing when we need a moment. But seeing our goals, the energies we want to embody, and things we want around us everyday staring back at you can be a really great motivational tool to keep working at these things.
The other thing I love about vision boards is they’re an amazing way to lift your mood and shift into a positive mindset. Think about how each visual representation makes you feel, WHY it’s important to you (that “why” behind anything we do is so imperative), and how you’ll feel in the future when and if these things come into your life.
The Benefits of Revisiting Your Board
We can all feel stuck at times or lack the energy to complete a goal. Who hasn’t, right? Revisiting your vision board and connecting to your goals and these visions for yourself can increase productivity, reduce procrastination, and inspire you to get going and keep going.
Again, have fun with this process! Don’t overthink it, and don’t even feel the need to do it all in one sitting. Come back to it as you see fit, keep tweaking it if you want to… consider it a living document!
And, put this board wherever it resonates with you. If you’re doing it in a physical form, perhaps your office, bedroom, maybe even your bathroom. If you’re doing a digital version (this is what I’ve done the last few years, though I highly encourage a physical copy), printing it out or having it as the background on your computer is a great place to look at it every day and be reminded.
Identify Short-Term and Long-Term Goals
This is a bit technical, and when you’re doing these visualization exercises I actually really want to encourage more of your heart and soul leading you here. Don’t overthink this, don’t get too tactical with it, and don’t get too hung up on goals you HAVE to achieve. Allow some flow to come in and out of the process.
But honestly, I can’t very well skip this step because it can very helpful for a lot of people. I have a little type A brain in me so I really appreciate this practice too.
With grievers especially, compartmentalizing things into short and long-term plans or goals can help a lot and make things feel more digestible, so I’d be remiss if I didn’t cover this.
If it helps, break down your vision into achievable short-term and long-term goals. This step-by-step approach can make the process more manageable, and can even help you track your progress. So whether this is literally just a side-by-side list of short vs. long-term goals, you have it jotted down in a planner or Excel document, whatever works best for your brain here.
When there are larger, overarching goals we want to reach, breaking them down into more step-by-step, action-focused steps can be a really helpful practice.
Explore New Opportunities
Especially in grief, I want to start this off by saying I think it’s important to do this when we’re ready.
When we’re coping with loss, it’s this delicate balance. We have to have the awareness to know when things are feeling too overwhelming or too much, but to have the wherewithal to challenge ourselves, too. To determine when things feel okay or feel good enough to possibly explore or try out. And that’s just it, it’s all about trying!
Things that feel amazing and expansive to me now certainly wouldn’t have felt that way just after my parents died. Why? Because I wasn’t ready, pretty simple. That’s the beauty that a great combination of time and grief work gives us.
So, when you’re ready, embrace new opportunities that align with your vision. This might involve exploring new hobbies, pursuing educational goals, or engaging in activities that bring joy and fulfillment. Have fun with this process! You never know what might come up for you. It could be something you completely don’t expect or see coming. Something you never thought you’d explore. If it doesn’t feel aligned or empowering, phase out of it and try something else, and perhaps come back to it later. That’s the beauty of this process, it’s all in your hands!
Adapt and Adjust
This goes along with the last point a little bit, but I encourage you to be adaptable and adjust as needed as you’re doing all of this. Especially as a griever, there is so much to figure out and feel out. What might feel good one day (or even one moment) doesn’t necessarily feel good the next. Is this exhausting and confusing? You bet! This isn’t exactly the most fun part of grief, but think about it this way…
This is a beautiful opportunity to take your foot off the gas a little bit, take some pressure off, and just be. Just be. Be with yourself, with your thoughts, and with what feels good to your soul to do. Acknowledge that this might change, and welcome that adjustment. Truly, this is some of the best advice I can give in grief. Holding on to expectations or holding too tightly to things trying to make them work can ultimately cause more stress and dis-ease in a time when we’re already feeling the heat from a lot of different directions.
Grief or not, life is dynamic. It’s an ever-evolving, living, breathing this. And with that, circumstances may change. You know this if you’ve endured a loss, especially one you perhaps didn’t see coming! Be open to adapting and adjusting your vision as needed. Not only for your mental health, but this is an amazing way to allow what’s meant for you to flow in and come to you. Flexibility is a key component of resilience in the time of loss, and this will only positively build on your life experiences.
Celebrate Your Progress
I have to end this with probably the most important aspect of this entire process. Which, is an ever-changing process, by the way, so celebrating your progress should never end!
Celebrate small victories along the way. That’s it. Recognize and acknowledge the progress you make, no matter how small. I mean this so wholeheartedly. This is something I’ve put into practice myself, and it has changed the way I view my successes and grief. And I’ll be very honest, I’m still working on this, too. This isn’t an easy thing, and we don’t always feel motivated to celebrate ourselves. We often feel down, we can feel defeated, and each day can be a bit of a battle.
Between guilt and regret we might feel, to pressure that we’re moving on too quickly (or not quickly enough), to feeling like life is moving right along as we feel stuck. It’s hard to acknowledge small and big wins throughout all that, and we might feel resistant to that.
It’s all about baby steps…
But whether it’s the fact that we managed to get out of bed that day or we were able to have a well-balanced meal when we’ve been surviving on Taco Bell (if you’ve been familiar with LBG for a little bit, you know my affinity with Taco Bell)… that’s something. I say this incessantly, it’s all about baby steps. That’s baby steps with the hard things, and baby steps with these small wins and celebrations, too.
Each step forward is a testament to your strength and resilience, and let me remind you, that is hard to find when we’re grieving. Many people aren’t open-minded to this change and evolution, many people fight it, and many won’t even try.
If you’re open and trying, that’s step one. Celebrate that today, my friend. Acknowledging you could use a little more help, a little more inspiration in your life, and a little more progress to live that life as fully and in alignment as possible with your highest self is a beautiful place to start. That’s all we can really do to begin honoring ourselves and our loved ones, right?
Explore the Membership
If you do find yourself needing more help in this area, my Intentional Life After Loss monthly membership is absolutely something I hope you explore.
If you’re struggling with the loss of a loved one, or even a loss of self, identity, a relationship… I can empathize with where you are right now.
- We can feel overwhelmed and deeply hurting.
- Like there’s no clear path forward without who you’ve lost.
- There’s zero light at the end of the tunnel (maybe you can’t even find the tunnel, right?).
- You’re perhaps simply “existing” but not truly living because it’s just too hard, painful, or you simply don’t want to.
- Life has lost its luster.
I can only begin to empathize and relate to your very specific and unique pain. But you do not have to do it alone. That’s where this membership comes in.
What exactly is this membership, Tara?
Good question! It is a space where you can enjoy action-baed coping tools and support every month to guide you and help you heal your heart after suffering the loss of a loved one.
So, everything we’ve talked about today, we take this, and we go deeper. This means you have an online space where you will feel supported, seen, heard, and validated alongside an online grief support group (participate as much or as little as you’d like, or work your way up to it!), access to me as your Grief Coach, and watchable/downloadable tools that empower and teach you how to cope with your day-to-day grief.
Because that can the most difficult part. After the funeral and the initial weeks after the loss are over, after people slowly stop checking on you, after everyone seems to think you’re okay when really, you’re still struggling…
The goal is for you to find consistent comfort, support, and guidance in your grief journey in a way that is at your fingertips as you need it.
What does being “intentional” mean?
To be “intentional” with our grief means that we give it the time and attention it deserves. To be open-minded to the grief work, the healing journey, and the things our grief can teach us. We’ve already begun to visualize our best life today and have that conversation… imagine how much more you could tap into this!
It’s understanding that it is a complex process, and it will ebb and flow. Just like everything we talked about today. And you know what? That’s okay! All we can do as grievers is approach it as carefully and thoughtfully as possible, making sure to give ourselves the proper time and energy to do exactly that.
It’s approaching our grief with love, and in a way that is holistic and digestible. Because we’re already overwhelmed as it is, right?!
So, with that being said, details about this membership and other ways to work with me are linked in the show notes. I hope you explore that if you need it, because I am always, always here for you.
I hope this post has given you something to think about today, perhaps even prepped you and made you feel a little bit better about going into the new year or really whenever you’re catching this episode. Whatever phase of life you find yourself in.
You can also watch this on Youtube!