Life Goes On

Life Goes On

I’m guessing you may be familiar with this particular song by the Beatles. They use the phrase “life goes on” as part of their refrain. While the song is upbeat, the idea that life goes on can feel like a challenging one, especially when you set it next to some of life’s most painful moments.

  • You’ve just been diagnosed with cancer. (Life goes on.)
  • You’ve lost a child–or a spouse, or a parent. (Life goes on.)
  • You’re coping with overwhelming depression. (Life goes on.)
  • You’re trying to deal with a challenging chronic illness. (Life goes on.)

Why That Can Feel So Hard

[tbpquotable]When your world is falling apart, the idea that “life goes on” can feel like a cruel joke. [/tbpquotable] For you, life is entirely changed. Often, just waking up in the morning can feel like a huge effort. And the idea of moving forward is nearly unthinkable. It can feel like an insult that the sun rises each morning, and that others around you can seem to move forward untouched by this earth-shaking change that you are facing.

This is challenging, because it is true that life continues, even in the face of our biggest struggles. It can be even more difficult to take when someone tells you that “life goes on” in an attempt to cheer you up, or to move you forward out of your grief. Thinking about moving forward is an issue of timing. Hearing that life goes on, especially in early grief, can often feel dismissive–as though you are being hurried through your own grieving process. As I have discussed in other posts, people who care about you will sometimes try to help you move past pain before you are quite ready. This is often a reflection of their concern for you, but it can backfire if you feel dismissed or unheard.

If you are in this space, I recommend taking time to get good support. That can include reaching out to a support group, having coffee with a friend or family member who can make space for your pain, talking with a pastor, or meeting with a psychologist. Taking time to journal and focus on making space for your feelings can also be useful.

"It goes on"Because eventually, time does take the rough edges off our pain. It won’t cure disease, or end grief entirely. As you become accustomed to living with loss or illness, there are more and more moments when you aren’t defined by that loss. When life does go on, and you find that maybe you can too.

What has happened in your life that challenged your ability to believe life could go on? What losses have you survived? What tools were the most useful to you during those times? Please feel free to share in the comments.

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