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The Myth of Moving On: Living While Grieving

Recently, I posted on Facebook that I missed my daughter as her would-have-been birthday approaches. A simple statement of “I can’t believe it’s been so many years and I miss her.”

The following day, I got a note from someone who had seen my post and who was “concerned that I seemed to be consumed by my loss” and thought I “would really benefit from accepting her death and moving on.”


Initially, I thought I’d just remove this person as a friend and let it go. But it kept nagging at me. Because this ill-conceived belief that in order to “move on” and live a fulfilling life, we need to forget and never talk about our loved ones again is an opinion pushed on many of those who grieve. Not only is it misguided, it’s hurtful to those finding their way through grief.

What this person failed to notice, apparently, is that I live a rich, vibrant, fulfilling, and beautiful life. I am happy and ambitious and fiery and successful.

And, yes, I still miss my daughters. Every day.

I still look for them in all the children I see. I wonder who they might have been. Holidays have an emptiness no one could fill but them.

Sometimes I still cry for the longing to hold them. There is an ache inside, mostly just beyond my conscious awareness, that likely will never completely ease.

I light a candle on their would-have-been birthdays and eat a cupcake to remember them.

Yes, it has been what feels like far too many years. I don’t grieve as I once did and I also don’t expect this missing, this longing, this ache for them to ever fully leave. As long as I love them, I will miss them. That will be for always.

It does not, however, mean I am consumed by grief, broken by this loss, or somehow pathological in my grief because I continue to miss them.

My life is rich and full and beautiful. It is filled with the brilliance of my love for them and the shadows of their loss. Moving on does not equal forgetting.

I am living while grieving. There is nothing healthier or more beautiful than that.

That is what moving on actually looks like.


  1. Post comment

    Emily, I love that you share so authentically and appreciate that you are willing to talk about grief. I do too. A lot of people do not understand how we can feel so deeply and still move on, and how incredibly beautiful life is when we do. So thank you! Thank you for so eloquently saying what you think and feel as you grieve and by doing so, giving others permission to do the same. Our society has a long way to go… we all need to learn how to better support each other through grief and heartbreak. The very best way to do that is to be really comfortable in our own process of grief and heartbreak. And that is what you so beautifully model. Thank you.

    1. Post comment

      You are so welcome! Thank you for your sweet works! This path isn’t easy, but it is beautiful and fulfilling.

  2. Post comment

    I have lost through forced adoption BUT all of what I experience is exactly the same. I’m grieving the loss of my children to me but all I hear from anyone is that I have to move on. And I hear this from family members not just friends.
    I find that I want to talk about the children to keep their memories alive for me but even to my family their names are a taboo subject!!
    Soooo very sorry for your loss and I feel your pain!!

  3. Post comment

    Good for you. Everyone goes at their own pace and it’s not anyone else’s job to determine the pace. Maybe that lady would like to see this: The Key To Happiness; Let other people do what they need to do to make themselves happy. Mind your own business and do what you need to do to make yourself happy.

  4. Post comment

    Thank you so much for your post. My husband has been dead for 15 years and I still grieve for my loss. It is not the same as in the first years after his death but it is still grief. You are right, there is nothing wrong in sharing about our loved one long after their death. It’s celebrating the life we had together.


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