You don’t have to move on.

Some people will tell you that it’s time to move on.

What they mean is that your tears and conversation about your grief are making them feel uncomfortable. What they mean is that they are thinking about other things and you should be, too. What they mean is that they don’t know how your grief feels.

We move on after a bad decision. We move on after a broken bone heals. We move on after something ends. Except for a life. Part of who we are is because of them. And that’s not something you move on from. Because we don’t move on from ourselves.

Recently, I walked down the hall with a family member. “You don’t have to move on,” I said. She agreed.

“Instead,” I said, “we go on.”

When a family member or friend dies, we go on. Taking one step and then another. But we don’t move on.

As Nora McInerny says, “The truth is that the things that shape us—the good and the bad—stay with us. We’re RESHAPED. We are different.” [1]

As we go on, as we move forward, we will remember what they thought about things, we will respond to what they would have done, we will carry them with us.


  1. https://goop.com/wellness/spirituality/the-hot-young-widows-club/. The language of moving forward rather than moving on is from Nora.

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This Is Hard Copyright © 2021 by Jon C Swanson. All Rights Reserved.

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