How to Cope in a “Get Over and Move On” Society

By: Rochelle Perper, Ph.D. | October 18, 2013

For those who have experienced loss, disappointment, betrayal, or trauma, the expression get over it and move on is a difficult concept to accept. If you have ever experienced the deep sorrow, confusion, sense of loneliness and aimlessness associated with the situations described here, you know that it’s not that easy to “get over it” or simply “move on.”

When your whole world has turned upside down and emotional triggers surround you wherever you go, it seems like things will never get better. Although it’s not easy, there are ways to ease the pain and begin to rebuild your life. However, forcing yourself into recovery too soon can be detrimental. Ironically, the prescription for grief is often times to grieve.

The hardest part for many of us is to give ourselves permission to do this. It’s not easy, considering society sends a very different message. “It’s been six months, aren’t you over him yet?”, “I think you should really start to move on”, or “Why can’t you just get over it, already?” are just some of the many things you might hear from family or friends. Some of these harsh messages might also be internalized. If you are the type of person who holds him or herself to a high standard, usually accomplishes goals, and is referred to by others as being the “strong one”, the experience of grief can not only be painful, but also very unfamiliar.

Although there is no one right way to grieve, there are guidelines that will help guide you in the process. Remember, grief is a necessary part of the recovery process and an unavoidable experience for many.

The Mourners Bill of Rights

  1. You have the right to experience your own unique grief.
  2. You have the right to talk about your grief and your situation.
  3. You have the right to feel a wide range of emotions.
  4. You have the right to cope and relax in a way that is healthy and comforting to you.
  5. You have the right to listen to your body and be tolerant of your physical and emotional limits.
  6. You have the right to let the tears flow.
  7. You have the right not to be rushed through your grief.
  8. You have the right to search for meaning.
  9. You have the right to your memories.
  10. You have the right to focus on relationships and on what’s important to you.

Many individuals find it helpful to enlist the support of a therapist to witness and guide them in their healing journey. Intense feelings of grief, loss, trauma and pain might be too difficult for others to take in and talking to the wrong person can sometimes be more harmful than helpful. When choosing a therapist, it is best to work with someone who has specialized training in the areas of Grief and Loss. Above all, make sure that you feel safe and comfortable with your therapist. You should be able to speak freely without fear of judgment or criticism. Remember, this is your journey and the right therapist will honor where you are and help you get to where you want to be.

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