How do I move on after the death of a loved one?


The only man I thought I would ever love died in a car accident. I feel lost, cold, and alone; and I can't even think of anything else. He's in my mind all the time, as I last saw him, and I don't feel that I will ever love anyone the way that I loved him. Sometimes I feel as if I am here for nothing without him here. I love him, still. I miss him so much. I don't know what to do. I can't get over my love for him, and I can't move on with life. I'm stuck in the time of his accident. For some reason, I cannot leave. I cannot move on. Help me -- please. I have never been so alone.


I'm so sorry about your loss. It is a difficult thing to face. But why do you think you must "get over" your love for him? When dealing with true love, Paul stated "Love never fails" (I Corinthians 13:8). The woman in Song of Solomon, in discussing true love, stated, "Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm; for love is as strong as death, jealousy as cruel as the grave; its flames are flames of fire, a most vehement flame. Many waters cannot quench love, nor can the floods drown it. If a man would give for love all the wealth of his house, It would be utterly despised" (Song of Solomon 8:6-7). So no, true love is permanent. Of course you miss him and you will continue to miss him.

You are correct, though, in realizing that life goes on and you must continue on in life without your companion. Perhaps this is the most difficult thing to face because each of us build fantasies of the future in our mind. An unexpected death shatters those dreams and forces us to realize how little control we have over our lives. "Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit"; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away" (James 4:13-14). The truth is that joy in life comes from enjoying what is. The past is but memories, some to be cherished and others best forgotten. The future is out of our hands. Thus, as Paul stated, "for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:11-13).

Grieving is the time when we must, out of necessity, reset our expectations concerning the future. Things are not going to match up with our dreams. The many plans that you made must be discarded. Yet, things are not hopeless. Life is still worth living. You still have things to do in God's world.

Consider, just for a moment, a different line of thought. How is it that a woman deeply in love with her husband can love her newborn child? Does she transfer her love from her husband to the child? Or is it that her ability to love expands? "And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ" (Philippians 1:9-10). The mistake you are making in this time of grief is that the one who died was the only man you would ever love. A more accurate statement is that he was the only man you thought you would need to love -- and even that thought would be too shallow. We love many people in many ways. Father, mother, siblings, children: all have room in our hearts.

Will there ever be another whom you will love just like you loved this man? Most likely not, for each of us are different. But there are others out there whom you can love just as strongly (though in a different way) if you will allow it to happen. When I teach couples preparing for marriage, we talk about the myth that there is just one true love for each person. If such were the case, life would be miserable because it would take forever to sort through the world's current 6 billion population to find that one match. The truth is that there are thousands of people with whom you could happily live life -- some better than others, but still happily. People need to realize that because often, after a marriage goes on for several years and the couple falls into habits, you stumble upon someone else with whom you click. Suddenly you wonder if you made a mistake. "Did I marry the wrong person?" Before long the current marriage is ruined as the person pursues another who can make him or her happy. No, you marry the person because you know you can make the marriage work despite good times and bad times that are bound to come. Sure there are others out there, but this person is the one whom you chose.

But returning to your original question concerning how to move on, the answer lies in the fact that you have locked onto your personal misery. Read back through your note and see that everything you stated revolves around you and your feelings. You live, those feelings are there, but life is not about self. "Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others" (Philippians 2:1-4). Break the cycle of looking inward and force yourself to look outward. It will be hard at first, but make yourself do it -- your emotions will follow along later. Be a volunteer as a Big Sister, or help Meals-On-Wheels deliver food to the elderly, or go to the local hospital and volunteer to hold premie babies. Anything to get you out of your room and into other people's lives -- people who need you and want you to be there, people who will depend upon you and give meaning to your life. This is what God did for Elijah when he fell into depression and the same will work for you (Read I Kings 18). Before long you will realize that you aren't alone; you never have been alone because the Lord has been at your side all this time.