What is new life in the mourning?
Supporting a friend through the end of her marriage, she asked the question, ‘You talk about new life in the mourning a lot – what do you actually mean?
I’ve continued to think about how I would answer that simply without reusing the same words:
New life in the mourning is a positive response to find a fresh way of being and doing amidst the negative experience of the ending of a relationship.
Wow, that was hard to capture what I mean by ‘new life in the mourning’ and not write an essay on it. There’s 3 parts to it:
New Life: positive response to find a fresh way of being and doing
So, what is new life at the end of a marriage?
New life encompasses many things in both the present and the future. It is learning how to be single again and how to do life as a single person, creating a single parent family if you have kids. It’s finding out who you are and what you want from life, recognising the end of your relationship may have changed you. It’s finding a community so you won’t do life alone. It’s dreaming of the life you want and taking steps to live a life of purpose. It’s looking after yourself, your health and valuing yourself. It is hopeful as you discover and create a good life at the end of your relationship.
This is the recognition that creating the new life occurs whilst you are grieving. You don’t do the grief or wait for it to be over, before you find a new way to live. Part of the healing of the grief is learning to live in the new normal and finding meaning and purpose there.
The Mourning: the negative experience of ending a relationship
Mourning is dealing with the loss of your relationship and navigating the grief it brings. It is healing the hurts so you can love again and develop healthy relationships. It includes dealing with the baggage and happenings in your past that impact both now and potentially the future.
You need to let go, release your old life, even some friends. Forgiveness is a big part of the releasing. Forgiving your former partner, friends and others, and yourself – this is a big one. Let go of blame and guilt to find your freedom so you can live your future.
It’s normal as you navigate your new life to fall back into the negative thought patterns of ‘life is too hard’ and wishing it was different, being jealous of others who have happy relationships or are financially secure. Learn to accept and manage these times.
If I re-wrote the book would I change anything?
Spending time reflecting on this a decade after writing the book and continuing to support people at the end of their relationships, have I changed what I would write when I do the next edition?
Mostly no. I come back to the same structure I use in my course and on the website (which is slightly different from the book):
- The end of the relationship: Dealing with the practicalities at the end of a relationship. Dividing up assets, divorcing if you were married, creating parenting plans, selling the house, practical and legal stuff you have to attend to at the end of the relationship. Get good advice throughout this process. The end of the relationship also covers understanding its effect on your health and the process of grief.
- Healing: How to engage with and process your grief, manage your emotions, rebuild your self-esteem, improve your health, connect with community.
- Moving forward: Create your new life. Get to know yourself and think about both who you want to be and what you want to do. What dreams do you have? What are your passions? It’s a chance to begin again.
- Successfully single again: Heal and grow healthy relationships
I would change the following because I have realised how easy it is to create a new life where your identity is doing, not being. I’ve seen how the fear of others and building walls stops support and creates more isolation.
I would strengthen and add more about the importance of community. You are better together as I often talk about now. It’s the importance of connecting with others, creating a circle of support, growing your friendships, and more information on how to do this using the concept of the circle of support.
I would also stress more on self-compassion and self-care.
But overall, the message of ‘new life in the mourning’ remains the same.
Putting legs on it
I would love to hear your feedback on what else should be covered. What is important to you as you heal and recover at the end of your relationship?