By Susan Drevitch Kelly
Life Transition Coach

It is a new year and a time when people reflect on the past year, set intentions, and look for a fresh start. For those who are grieving the loss of a loved one, it can be a time to think about moving forward with life.
But how? What is the first step? How do you take the first step?
In order to work through the grieving process and begin to move forward with your life, you need to start to let go of the thoughts, feelings, fears that are holding you back. You need to “find a place” for your lost loved one in your present life, and a place for all of the emotions you feel for your loved one. It’s called “emotional relocation.”
Emotional relocation involves creating cherished memories of your loved one who is now physically gone but still very much alive in spirit. You need to begin a “remembering process” by actively reviving, recalling, and reliving the stories that comprised your relationship, from the very beginning until the end.
It is a process of capturing all of these cherished memories through storytelling, journaling, creating a memory box, and any other method that works for you. This process can be painful as you tell your stories out loud, write memories down, or capture treasured items and photos in a memory box. But in going through this process, the memories are transformed into images that can become a very part of your being.
Through this process, you are essentially “relocating your loved one” to your heart and forming a new relationship with them where you can begin to remember them without it being the intense, painful process it once was. The emotional bonds can be loosened just enough so they do not hold you back from moving forward and think about living life again.
This does not mean we forget or leave our loved one behind. It is a way of giving yourself permission to move forward through life in a healthy way.
Our loved one will not be loved any less just because you are capable of loving yourself enough to move forward and forge a new life without them. No one can take away the cherished memories that reside in your heart, and it is a special place that only you can visit to spend time with your loved one.
We know that grieving is a long-term, complex and “messy” process. No one can set a definite date or timeline for its completion. Grieving is a personal and unique process for each person who has experienced a profound loss.
Psychologist William Worden, in his 2009 book, “Grief Counseling and Grief Therapy,” provided a framework of four tasks that need to be experienced by a griever in order to understand their journey of grief and go through the healing process.
These four “tasks” include accepting the reality of the loss, experiencing the pain of the grief, adjusting to this “new world” in which your loved one is missing, and then finding an enduring connection with your loved one as you embark on a new life, “emotionally relocating” your loved one to a new and special place that no one else will ever take.
Through this process, you will not forget about your cherished past but will gradually create a balance between remembering your loved one and living a meaningful life. You will continue on with your life the way your loved one surely would have wanted.