How To Find Your Purpose In Life After Experiencing A Deep Loss

Photo: by Tiko Giorgadze on Unsplash
How To Find Your Purpose In Life After Experiencing A Deep Loss

After losing someone or something important and going through the grieving process, many questions may pop up for you.

They may sound like this: Who am I now that my life has changed? Where do I go from here? How do I find a purpose in life again?

There is a lot of soul-searching involved in answering any one of these questions, and typically it takes putting a bit of distance between you and the event that changed your life so profoundly.

Did you lose a loved one? Was the career you put your heart and soul into ripped out from under you unexpectedly? Have you been struggling with a health diagnosis that caused you to reevaluate everything?

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It takes time to grieve losses like these and see all the pieces of your life as they are now, rather than how they used to be. You may feel shattered as if every part of your existence is laying on the floor scattered, and the pieces don’t fit together again.

Or you may feel as if something is missing and you won’t be able to go on. Here’s the truth: Life has changed, as it has a habit to do, and you are changing along with it — like it or not.

You’re not alone. The fact is most people struggle to answer those same questions at a time like this. Deciding how to find purpose in life again is something you get to choose to do when the time feels right.

Here are 7 ways you can move on and find your purpose in life after loss and grief have affected you:

1. Use self-compassion

The first and most important aspect of finding a purpose in life is to get in touch with your self-compassion. That means be kind and gentle with yourself.

The road to finding purpose takes you onto difficult paths. Consequently, you must be compassionate, so you don’t drive yourself into a ditch.

Believe me, it will be hard. When you think about doing new things, meeting different people, or breaking out of hibernation, you may become anxious or afraid.

Sit with that until you can reframe the feelings into something that motivates you do take small steps beyond what feels comfortable.

2. Discover who you are now

The next part of how to find purpose in life is about self-reflection. This takes the courage and willingness to dig deep and discover who you are now that things have changed.

Many of your qualities and characteristics may be the same as before. However, they may feel a bit "tarnished." For instance, you may have been greatly confident before, and now you are not so sure of yourself. Or, you may have demonstrated clear and concise decision-making, and now you can’t make a choice to save your life.

None of these wonderful qualities are gone—you merely need to bring them back to the surface, dust them off, and find a way for them to fit you like a glove again.

3. Redetermine what's important to you

Another important element in finding life purpose again (or perhaps for the first time), is to become firmly grounded in what is most important to you now.

Have you ever been in a committed relationship for a long time, or stayed in a job for years, or had friends and family who rely on you and drain your energy? Often, this happens because you've compromised your core values and lived by what someone else thinks you should do.

A major life event can cause you deep grief and change your life profoundly. It's the best time to re-evaluate what you care about and what's integral to who you are at the core?

Spend some time thinking about it, and when you've made a list of all those values you want to live by, pick the top five. These core values will become your guiding light.

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4. Imagine your future

When you're ready to take small steps forward, let your imagination run wild. At this point, you've identified what characteristics you know are your core values. Now imagine what you would like your life to be like beyond the grief and loss you’ve experienced.

What do you love to do? What are you really good at?

For many people, feeling that your life has purpose and meaning translates into serving others. It may mean fulfilling a need in your family, community, or the world.

So, think about what you are really good at, love to do, and fills a need. This is when you become the solution for something or someone. Purpose.

5. Write your purpose down

This means to capture all the glorious details of every aspect of your vision to live with purpose. Describe who you are in your vision of the future, who you're with, what you're doing, etc.

You'll feel the power of this if you write it as though it has already happened and you're in it right here, right now.

6. Surround yourself with supportive people

All of this can’t happen if you sequester yourself and try to do it alone. Not only is it easier when you get input and feedback from those around you, but it's also more fun. And in the aftermath of major life changes, fun is a good thing.

The key here is to surround yourself with people you trust and who love you unconditionally and want the best for you. Is there someone who will keep you in check when you veer off course? And who will walk this path with you all the way to the end and beyond?

Those are the people you want in your inner circle. I like to call them your "personal board of directors."

They can help you uncover your best qualities and characteristics, bounce around all the values you could live by and zero in on five of them, and re-imagine your life in a different way. It's this team of trusted advisors who can help you uncover new purpose in your life.

7. Take your first steps out of grief

At this point, you have a great sense of who you are and how you want to show up, what you value, and what you want to do that will bring purpose and meaning back into your life. You have all this because you captured it on paper.

Next, your job is to take that paper and make it come alive, like animating a film about your new life. This means you need to step into action.

The best way to get a move on is to break down your big ideas into smaller actions, then break them down again into manageable tasks. The idea here is to work on the tasks, one-by-one until you can check off the smaller action as complete and start working on the next one.

Soon, your big idea will be right in front of you ready for you to take it and run with it.

How to find a purpose in life is an endeavor worth pursuing. Be gentle with yourself. Seek the help you need. And, finally, find what you love and work from there.

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María Tomás-Keegan is a certified career and life coach and founder of Transition & Thrive with María. For more information on how she can help you move through change with dignity and grace, get a free copy of her ebook From Darkness to Light: Learning to Adapt to Change and Move Through Transition.

This article was originally published at Transition and Thrive With Maria. Reprinted with permission from the author.