5 Tips for Growing Forward When You Can’t Go Back

You know your life will never be the same, and you’re struggling to move on. You’ve come to the right place! These tips will help you grow forward when you can’t go back. I call them “Blossom Tips” because they’re about planting seeds, nurturing growth, and flourishing in a new season of life.

“See, I am doing a new thing!” says God in Isaiah 43:19. “Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”

It may have been bad news that brought you here, but the good news is that a new thing has been planted in your life! It may not be a season you planned for or expected. It may not be a season you’re prepared for, or that you even want. But it’s here. And so am I. And I have Blossom Tips for growing forward when you can’t go back. 

Finding the balance between learning how to stop dwelling on the past while honoring your experience can be tough. We often veer to one extreme or the other: we spend too much time grieving, or too much time marching stoutly forward without honoring the past.

My Blossom Tips will help you find that balance. We’ll explore general ways to grow forward and accept the idea that even though you can’t go back, you can be happy and healthy again. You can be free from the pain, and you can enjoy the peace, love and joy that comes with healing.

5 Tips for Growing Forward When You Can’t Go Back

My articles —  especially the ones on mending a broken heart and letting go of someone you love — are often broken up into five different categories. This offers a holistic approach to life because it includes the whole woman: Spirit, Heart, Soul, Body, and Brain. 

And, the separate Blossom Tips will help you identify which works best for you.

1. Spirit Blossoms

Tips for Growing Forward When You Can’t Go BackThe foundation of growing forward when you can’t go back is your spiritual health. The stronger you are spiritually, the more hope, peace and joy you’ll have — even when you’re struggling with the death of a loved one. Your faith can become stronger and more meaningful because of your pain, and your relationship with Jesus can get deeper and more personal.

What painful experience brought you here? Maybe you’re struggling with your husband’s death, a difficult divorce, or a devastating health diagnosis. Maybe you were blindsided by a breakup or left stranded by a man you love. No matter what your loss is, your spirit is affected. And no matter how deep or weak your faith, the foundation of healing is this Blossom Tip. Without God, there is no growing forward when you can’t go back.

2. Heart Blossoms 

My first undergraduate degree is in psychology, and I have a master of social work. I’m a big fan of psychological and emotional healing as part of growing forward! Especially when you can’t go back to the way things were. Not only have I taken counseling courses, I myself saw a counselor for almost a year. It wasn’t easy to work through the pain of my past, but it was necessary for my growth.

How are you doing psychologically or emotionally? This is another important part of growing forward after a painful life experience. Recovering from loss and facing grief hurts because it forces us to work through pain, but it’s necessary. What are you doing to take care of your psychological and emotional health?

3. Soul Blossoms

This is my favorite of all the Blossom Tips! We can get creative, artistic, and even entrepreneurial when we grow our souls. Writing, coloring, drawing, sculpting and sketching are just a few ways to grow forward and heal. Exploring the creative side of your personality is so important, and so Godly. He is our Creator; He is colorful, imaginative, inventive, interesting…and we’re made in His image. 

What are you creating in your life? I guarantee that it will help you grow forward when you can’t go back. You don’t have to create art, write a book, start a blog or design a house. Creativity involves taking anything and forming it into something different. Cooking food, planting or tending a garden, starting a community project, and even rearranging your house is being creative. 

4. Body Blossoms

5 Tips for Growing Forward When You Can’t Go BackIn my book Growing Forward When You Can’t Go Back, I describe how I walk backwards up hills while listening to podcasts. Now, I’ve graduated to jogging uphills backwards! Maybe one day I’ll be recording podcasts instead of just listening to them when I’m out there exercising 🙂 

How are you taking care of your physical health? Grieving is exhausting. It’s hard work for your brain, spirit, body, heart and soul. If you don’t take good care of yourself, then who will? A fundamental aspect to growing forward when you can’t go back is your physical health. This includes the foods you eat, the quantity and quality of hours you sleep, the amount of exercise you get and the way you treat your body. 

5. Brain Blossoms

The last tip for growing forward when you can’t go back involves your intellect. Your thoughts are crucial because they affect your mood, attitude, and choices. Your mind is incredibly powerful, and you have control over what thoughts you choose to accept or reject. 

What thoughts do you dwell on? Maybe you’re stuck in the past, and can’t let go of the idea that your life turned out “wrong.” Maybe you’re holding on to a person, place or period of time that has passed. Maybe you don’t want to grow forward because you wish the past was still here. Pay attention to your thoughts. You don’t have to force yourself to think or act different right now. Just notice what thoughts you tend to have most often. 

And there you have it, my friend: a general overview of my five “Blossom Tips” or ways to grow forward when you can’t go back. You’ll find more specific ideas in various “She Blossoms” blog posts, and of course my book Growing Forward When You Can’t Go Back.

What do you think? Your thoughts – big and little – are welcome below! I read every comment, but don’t worry: I won’t give advice or tell you what to do. It’s your turn to talk.


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8 thoughts on “5 Tips for Growing Forward When You Can’t Go Back”

  1. Is my husband part of my past????
    I can’t wrap my head around this one. Too painful. I lost him 9 months ago.
    Married for 29 years. Part of my past?
    OMG. This realization just broke my heart all over again

    1. I’m so sorry for your loss, Antonella. It must be so hard for you — and nine months isn’t that long! Especially after almost 30 years of marriage. What a huge hole in your heart, home, and life…I can’t imagine how big the adjustment is.

      I agree with you. Thinking that your husband is part of your past must be so painful. Maybe that’s not the best way for you to grow forward….maybe you need to find something else, something more comforting and consoling.

      What does make you feel better? Does anything bring hope, comfort, or warmth?


      1. Thank you, Laurie.
        Actually, hearing from you and others has helped bc you understand. Also, just being able to express my feelings without judgement has also helped.
        Thinking of my husband as part of my past is soo painful but may be I was meant to read it. has it helped me forward, no.
        I have been finding brown and grey feathers which apparently are a sign of change and peace to come. I don’t know. Maybe it’s part of it all.
        I saw two blackbirds in front me as well, more change? transition?
        Today, my husband’s headstone was placed at his grave site. I have been anxiously awaiting this as it’s another finale. It was so difficult seeing his name in stone. I cried and cried but I made it through.
        God is guiding me, I feel it and that is comforting me.
        My children are helping too but they too are suffering.
        Thank you for replying.
        God bless you for helping.

  2. I don’t know.
    I am trying to go through each day. Your blogs and essays are helping alit. Reading other widows experiences are also helpful.
    I just read one of your statemenrs about why I may not be moving forward. (Although, I still feel that my grief is still young. 9 months) but I’m feeling confined. don’t know.
    Your statement “Maybe you don’t want to grow forward because you wish the past was still here”, may be it. I don’t want to go forward bc I feel guilty and sad and scared. I know I can’t go back but I still want to. I can’t seem to ” let go” yet.

  3. I am a 41 year old Mother of two beautiful girls. My husband of over 20 years left a couple weeks ago. It has been devastating. The pain is unreal. My girls are coping. They have no idea he is not coming back though. There is another woman. I don’t know how we’re going to get through this. I am trying to keep the faith and walk in faith but it is very hard. Our marriage was not without problems, but I never thought it would come to this. We stood by each other for years through so many things. Their have been multiple infidelities, (on his part) but I was always willing to overlook it because I truly love him so much. I pushed him away this time because I wasn’t as affectionate as I could be or didn’t say the right things. I can’t stop blaming myself and the guilt is overwhelming. Still, I don’t think when the going gets tough that you should seek someone outside of your marriage. I have cried, prayed and begged! He is adamant that he is not coming back and is living with the other woman. I’m just hoping he doesn’t forget our girls. He says he won’t. I am glad to find this blog to hopefully help on me and my girls journey to healing.

  4. “You can’t stop the birds of sorrow from flying over your head but you sure can stop them from building a nest in your hair.” Chinese Proverb. You can’t stop bad thoughts from entering your mind but you can prevent them from building a stronghold in your mind.