How do we find the perspective we need to move forward with grief? And for those of us who are “grief-adjacent”, are there shifts we can make in our words and expectations that will help support those grieving? This amazing thought leader has a powerful story of her own loss that can help!
Grief has a way of knocking us off our feet. It leaves us scrambling to make sense of events, and yearning for normalcy. So, how do we get back up? Do we try to “move on”? Or is there another route?
This experience is surely as old as the human heart and every one of us is going to drag ourselves through those long hours, weeks and years unprepared for the journey at some point. So, when someone can transform the way we think about emotion as ancient as grief, it is something to celebrate.
After experiencing a loss, our friends and family will desperately want us to feel better. They want us to bounce back, to be the person that they knew before, to move on. But anyone who has tried knows that moving on from your grief is impossible. Those people we love, although no longer physically here, will always impact us. So is moving on really something we should be striving for?
Is it possible that a simple shift in words—of expectations—could reshape our experience with grief?
See what you think after hearing what Nora McInerny has to say about how we can move forward with our lives while still keeping those we lost close.
In 2014, Nora experienced multiple losses over the course of just a few weeks. (I’ll let her explain what exactly happened during that time in her TED talk.) But through these events, her life (obviously) changed. Since then, she began the “Hot Young Widows Club” with a friend, has written multiple books and launched the podcast, Terrible, Thanks for Asking, where she chats with people about some of the worst times in their lives.
“Usually when I talk about this period in my life, the reaction I get is essentially, “I can’t — I can’t imagine“. But I do think you can. I think you can, and I think that you should. Because someday it’s going to happen to you. Maybe not these specific losses, in this specific order or at this speed. But like I said, I’m very fun and the research that I have seen will stun you: Everyone you love has a 100% chance of dying.” — Nora McInerny
No, that isn’t the most uplifting quote I could have pulled from her. But it really cuts to the chase: this is a reality we’re all going to face. And for being something so natural in life, the death of loved ones (and the rerouting of dreams, for that matter) is an experience that a lot of us just don’t know how to handle—whether it’s happening to us or someone close to us.
So how do we go on with our lives after a loss without pushing our departed loved ones aside? Nora McInerny explains that in the aftermath of the hardest moments of our life—the loss of a loved one or the loss of our hopes or dreams—there’s a different approach for us, and the people around us, to thinking about our grief.
Nora lets us in on all that she’s learned with her heartbreaking and surprisingly hilarious talk on the TED stage. Have a look:
“Death ends a life, not a relationship.” ―
Check out all of Nora’s ventures since 2014 by visiting her website. There you’ll find links to her podcast, her writings, the widow’s group, her nonprofit, and much more. For a website centered around death, it’s sure one that brings a lot of joy.
Hear more from her right now in this following episode of TED Radio Hour where she explains a little more of what moving forward after loss looks like.
You can also see more great TED Talks by perusing our category all about them!
Grief can also be part of the process of seeing your hopes and dream evaporate or losing the ability to do something you are passionate about.
Many of the insights in Nora’s talk can apply to other kinds of terrible loss—the ending of a marriage, a loved one being impacted by drug addiction, the loss of a limb or one of our senses. To find some more insights to manage that kind of grief, check out this wonderful article:
We need to remember that a grieving person is going to laugh again and smile again. If they’re lucky, they’ll even find love again. But yes, absolutely, they’re going to move forward. But that doesn’t mean that they’ve moved on.” — Nora McInerny
At this point, you may be wondering how all of this proves that it’s still an amazing world. How do the worst experiences of our life equate to that?
Well, this may be one of the first times that EWC’s tagline can be taken completely literally. Even though a loss has been experienced, it’s still an amazing world. While someone we love is physically gone, we can still move forward with them. And because we’ve loved and lost them, we’re able to see life in a new way. We connect deeper with others who have experienced life this deeply and we see the enormity and importance of those still around us.
We have a new chapter for us to take under our wing. No, it’s not what we wanted. Losing them was never the plan. But we’re still here. So what are we going to do if we don’t move forward?
“Ain’t no shame in holding on to grief, as long as you make room for other things too.”—The Wire
Stay open to new possibilities!
“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” — Albert Einstein
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- TED. “We Don’t ‘Move on’ from Grief. We Move Forward with It | Nora McInerny.” YouTube, TED, 25 Apr. 2019, www.youtube.com/watch?v=khkJkR-ipfw&feature=youtu.be. Accessed 2 July 2019. ↩
- NPR/TED Staff. “Nora McInerny: What Does Moving Forward Look Like After Loss?” NPR, TED Radio Hour, 21 June 2019, www.npr.org/2019/06/21/734385329/nora-mcinerny-what-does-moving-forward-look-like-after-loss. Accessed 2 July 2019. ↩