How to Cope with Grieving Hopes & Dreams

Updated

Facing the loss of hopes and dreams is a particular type of grief that many bereaved individuals must learn to cope with after suffering through a traumatic situation. Shattered expectations and changed personal identities adversely impact a grieving person's future and sense of self. 

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Individuals find that as they grieve these setbacks, they also suffer for the lost potential of what could've been and the experiences they'll always regret not sharing. 

Grief after the loss of hopes and dreams is healthy and normal. The profound pain created by sudden or unexpected life changes will always be a part of the legacy left behind by trauma. Still, most people will find a way to move forward after loss to experience joy and happiness once again. They'll soon learn to adapt to their losses and the changes in their lives to find new meaning.

Why Is It So Hard to Let Go of Hopes and Dreams?

Letting go of your hopes and dreams and how things used to be is hard to do when your goals were attached to the person or thing you lost. You try your hardest to hold on to the bits and pieces of your life and how you had hoped it would end up because letting them go means that everything has now changed forever.

These types of losses are known as psychosocial losses that include milestones and life events such as graduations, divorces, declines in health, and the death of a loved one. Life-changing events like these contribute to the shattering of dreams in a bereaved person's life, contributing to lasting damage to a person's sense of self, connections, and overall existence. 

When grieving individuals force the abandonment of what might have been due to sudden or unexpected changes in their lives, they view these secondary losses and events no differently than the actual loss contributing to their despair. 

Letting go means that dreams remain unfulfilled, that failed relationships won't recover, and that every missed opportunity remains as such, adding to the list of other disappointments they feel. 

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What Does It Feel Like to Give Up On Hopes and Dreams?

Shattered dreams and lost hope might feel like the end of life itself. When a person experiences the loss of a significant attachment, they grieve the aspirations extended to that person or thing lost. The experience of grief can be profound and helps shape how bereaved individuals confront their pain.

Many individuals will suffer through despair, depression, and a loss of self-worth. Loss of hopes and dreams deprives individuals of psychosocial attachments relating to their identity and socioeconomic status. The ensuing grief is the body's response to those losses, including the resulting emotional, psychological, spiritual, and innate feelings that are difficult to control or ignore.

How You Can Deal With Giving Up on Your Hopes, Dreams, and the Life You Wanted

Through transition and self-exploration, bereaved individuals can come to terms with the inevitable changes resulting from loss. Shattered dreams and lost hope add to the overall feel of personal failure when experiencing a significant setback.

One coping mechanism replaces dejection with resiliency and renewed hope when the all-important image of self-worth is lost. The following ideas below may help you regain your footing when the life you've always dreamed of and wanted is now out of reach.

Accept what’s lost

Losing a significant part of you may leave you confused and unclear about the possibilities of what might've been. For example, grieving the loss of a job produces a loss of stability, identity, and autonomy.

Although you recognize the emotional impact on your grief, you can't specifically name what you're feeling. Accepting what you've lost includes not only the physical separation with that particular person or thing but of all the secondary losses associated with them. 

Assess what remains

Acknowledging and abandoning any plans for a particular future that you had with your loved one who died or with the loss suffered helps you to assess what’s left. Take stock of the aftermath as you pick up the pieces and rebuild your life. Resilience arises from ordinary resources and surviving life’s many challenges and setbacks. Your healing begins when you recognize what’s in front of you and how to move forward from there. 

Think ahead to what’s possible

Shattered dreams lead to a loss of hope in bereaved individuals, preventing them from putting their loss in perspective and recreating a new life. The capacity to move forward and successfully rebound from loss shows that you can adapt to adversity.

Although you may yet be aware of what lies ahead and future outcomes are still unknown, you start to formulate in your mind a future where you experience joy once again. Even while you're still grieving, the ability to grow from this experience allows you to live a full life despite the losses sustained. 

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Grieve your losses

How you cope with loss is an individual experience. When you have a different picture in mind about how things would be instead of how they turned out, you face many ambiguities and unanswered questions.

You may deal with disruptions to your life that will leave you wishing to get back to normal one day. Experiencing changes and uncertainties create added grief and stress to the grieving process making it more challenging to get through. Take the time to process each loss without worrying about how you'll resolve things.

Create a new story

When starting anew, assess the old before creating a new life for yourself. You’ll want to look for recurring themes and values you once held in your old life so that you can reframe them for the next.

You may struggle to carve out a new identity initially, but try not to pressure yourself to act too quickly or thoroughly. Grieving takes time, and you shouldn’t expect yourself to rebound from your loss quickly. Learn to live with the needed changes and make them a part of your new identity. 

How to Support a Loved One Who’s Grieving Their Hopes and Dreams

A person dealing with lost hopes and dreams needs the added support of their friends and family to help them get through. Helping them can include giving them added attention and getting them the needed professional help to make a turnaround when feeling hopeless. Supporting someone grieving also requires having empathy and compassion for their losses as they learn to live with their changed circumstances. Find out how you can help them with some of the ideas below. 

Give them needed time

Dealing with grief takes time and knowledge of what it means to go through a normal healing process. Sorrow produces a wide variety of responses to a significant loss, and your loved one may struggle to figure out how to live with their grief and make it a part of who they are. They’ll need time to rethink their priorities and come up with a renewed meaning of life so that they can find joy once again. 

Respect their grief

Individual grief following the loss of hopes and dreams can be messy and challenging to deal with. You may want your loved one to grieve in a way that’s familiar and comfortable but not necessarily helpful to them to make yourself feel better. Treat your loved ones nonjudgmentally and with the respect, sensitivity, and compassion they deserve. They’ll need love and understanding to get them through the process of mourning. 

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Encourage them to explore options

There are always other options, new roles, identities, and relationships to forge after a loss that a grieving person may need to become aware of as they begin the healing process. When you help them explore this new territory, you help them improve their self-esteem and self-worth.

Some ideas to consider are volunteering opportunities, new hobbies, or part-time work. Remind them that there’s nothing disloyal to their loved ones when they build a new life for themselves and enjoy new experiences. 

Be there for them 

Help your loved one develop a plan to move forward in life and heal from their loss. It’s normal to want to recover from grief and resolve their suffering. Although you can’t force your loved ones to resume their life, you can help them define their limits and set boundaries around their recovery. The most valuable thing you can give them is your time and compassion during their most significant time of need. 

Develop rituals for grieving and healing

Self-care and grieving don’t often jump to the forefront of a bereaved person’s thoughts, and that’s where you can make a lasting impact on their healing journey. Social rituals hold the key to helping grieving individuals get through challenging situations and provide them with a safe space to explore their grief and express their emotions. When coupled with self-care, grief rituals serve as a respite from mourning while providing a grieving individual with much-needed self-care. 

Reinforce their support system

After suffering a devastating and life-altering event, the ability to connect with people becomes challenging. Openly talking about grief is not yet acceptable in most social settings, and the topic makes many people uncomfortable as they resist talking about death and loss.

Social disconnection is a response to grief, making resuming ties with family members, friends, and loved ones awkward. You can help by stepping in and organizing opportunities for reconnection like a small memorial luncheon or a night in looking at old photos and swapping stories.  

The Disillusionment of Grief and Loss

We all have specific hopes and dreams for our futures and our families and loved ones. We go through life with certain expectations of how our lives should be and what we’re waiting to experience.

After suffering a major setback, some of us learn that no one’s guaranteed or entitled to the special occasions and milestones that transform us from one stage of life to the next. Loss cruelly robs us of our aspirations leaving us to mourn and pick up the pieces of a shattered life. 

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