The book No Time to Say Goodbye changed how I see the grieving and healing process after loss. These valuable lessons for carrying on when you didn’t have time to say goodbye will help you let go of someone you love.
While this book focuses on the surviving the suicide of a loved one, it offers valuable insights on the grieving process as a whole. Guilt and regret are discussed in detail; self-forgiveness and acceptance are key to carrying on. You can’t carry on after you lose someone you love – especially when you don’t want to say goodbye – unless you work through the grief and accept the loss.
It’s painful, but you are not alone. Not having time to say goodbye makes death – or even a divorce or breakup – shocking and unbelievable. But, it’s possible to carry on and even be happy again! You won’t always feel as bad as you do right now. You will find healthy, good, and valuable tips for carrying on and marching bravely forward into a new season of life.
“To love at all is to be vulnerable,” writes C. S. Lewis in The Four Loves. “Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket—safe, dark, motionless, airless—it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.”
With great love comes great pain. It’s worth it…if you find ways to heal and carry on.
Carrying On When You Didn’t Have Time to Say Goodbye
Cherish the moments you have with the people you love. It may be too late to cherish the moments you had with the person you lost, but don’t let this grief stop you from loving others deeply. Every breath we take is a gift from God, every day a blessing, every person a treasure.
Live deeply, love fully, and let go willingly.
Learn practical tips for grieving and carrying on after loss
One of the most important things I learned from No Time to Say Goodbye is that grief can become more intense in the second year. The first year is filled with shock and practical details that need to be attended to. People offer comfort and support right after a loss, especially in the first few weeks. The funeral must be planned, the belongings taken care of, the will executed, the property dealt with. Family and friends often gather around to help.
Moving through the grieving process take a lot of time and energy. So does healing! The first year may be the best time to learn practical tips for carrying on when you didn’t have time for goodbyes. You may not have time or energy to actually carry out those activities, but you can let them simmer in the back of your mind while you take care of the more pressing details.
Expect unpredictable emotions at unpredictable times
Your emotions will be wildly unpredictable and unstable. You’ll veer from relief to anger, heart-shattering pain to numb shock. You’ll feel disbelief and a sense of being detached or untethered from the world. You’ll feel like you’re going crazy.
One of the most important things I learned in No Time to Say Goodbye is that everyone’s experience with death and loss is different. Everyone has a different story of loss, grieving, and healing. In one sense, this makes it more difficult to learn how to carry on when you had no time to say goodbye. There are no set answers, no formulas that work for everyone. Even the stages of grief are different for everybody. The stages of grief are also different for us at different stages of our lives.
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Take time to find your way to say goodbye
Reading books is valuable because it opens new worlds. Your old world, your old way of doing things and living life is completely different after losing someone you love – especially if you had no time to say goodbye. Now, it’s time to explore new worlds, new ways of thinking and being, and new ways of carrying on after the loss of a loved one. Books open these new ways of thinking and being by offering you glimpses of strange, sad, fascinating yet familiar new worlds.
Talking to people about their experiences of loss and grieving is also helpful. In No Time to Say Goodbye: Surviving the Suicide of a Loved One Carla Fine talked to hundreds of survivors of loved ones who committed suicide. Each story was unique; each person struggled to learn how to carry on. Some never did pick up the pieces of their life, not even decades later. Others learned how to grieve and heal in healthy ways. Learning how others carried on after the death of a loved one will help you grow forward.
One of the biggest obstacles to healing and carrying on – especially if you had no time to say goodbye – is regret and guilt. No matter how you lost your loved one, no matter how much you know about how to let go of someone you love, you may struggle with guilt and even shame. How do you forgive yourself if your last discussion was filled with anger, criticism, or pain?
You carry on by learning what it means to forgive yourself. Forgiving yourself involves accepting that you can’t change what happened. You really were doing the best you could, given the resources and knowledge you had at the time. If you had known better, you would have done better. If you knew you’d have no time for goodbyes, you would’ve done things different.
Reach outwards and upwards for support and comfort
Reach outwards to other people – not just online. Go beyond reading articles and searching the internet for tips on how to carry on when you had no time to say goodbye. Join a grief support group, talk to a counselor, take part in a cause or foundation that supports other grieving friends and family members.
“I found incredible power from listening to all the different stories [in my suicide survivors support group],” says Betsy in No Time to Say Goodbye. “It’s much easier to forgive other people—you hear their stories and you know it’s not their fault. Then you ask, ‘Why should I be so hard on myself?’ Gradually, my guilt over my brothers’ death began to recede.”
“Grief: You don’t get over it, you just get through it,” write Brook Noel and Pamela Blair in I Wasn’t Ready to Say Goodbye: Surviving, Coping and Healing After the Sudden Death of a Loved One. “You don’t get by it, because you can’t get around it. It doesn’t get better’, it just gets different every day . . . grief puts on a new face.”
Brook and Pamela know firsthand what it’s like to be forced to learn how to carry on when there was no time for goodbyes; they share their wisdom and insights in this book. They’re like anchors in the storm of grief, helping women rebuild their lives after loss.
Learn how others survived when they didn’t have time for goodbyes. Talk about your grieving and healing process. And reach upwards! Allow God to fill your heart and soul. There is no true release from grief without spiritual healing, and there is no carrying on in peace and joy without God.
You may not have had time to say goodbye to the person you loved and lost, but you can cherish the present moment. Be grateful for who and what is in your life today, no matter how big or small. Love deeply, even if you’re scared you’ll lose someone else. Accept life for what it is, and love God on His terms.
Your thoughts – big and little – are welcome below! How do you carry on when you weren’t given time to say goodbye to someone you love?
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.
Laurie's "She Blossoms" Books
Growing Forward When You Can't Go Back offers hope, encouragement, and strength for women walking through loss. My Blossom Tips are fresh and practical - they stem from my own experiences with a schizophrenic mother, foster homes, a devastating family estrangement, and infertility.
How to Let Go of Someone You Love: Powerful Secrets (and Practical Tips!) for Healing Your Heart is filled with comforting and healthy breakup advice. The Blossom Tips will help you loosen unhealthy attachments to the past, seal your heart with peace, and move forward with joy.
When You Miss Him Like Crazy: 25 Lessons to Move You From Broken to Blossoming After a Breakup will help you refocus your life, re-create yourself, and start living fully again! Your spirit will rise and you'll blossom into who you were created to be.