How to Regain Motivation After a Loss or Tragedy


How do you find motivation following a tragedy when it's hard to even get out of bed? After losing someone you love or suffering from any of life's other catastrophes, it may seem impossible to find the strength to go on, let alone find the willpower to get your life back on track.

When you face misfortune, the heartache and pain that follow can leave you sleepless at night. You may find it hard to have the courage to go on and face life after loss. 

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Focusing your efforts on meaning-making in grief or tragedy after a major setback may seem like an impossibility, especially when you can't even get excited about waking up in the morning.

Grief can make it so that you've lost interest in everything that once brought you joy. Everything may now seem hopeless. The following information and tips may help you regain some of that lost motivation.

How Does Losing a Loved One Affect Motivation?

Finding motivation after a loss can be challenging. On most days, you may be struggling to recover from your loss and may not feel like doing anything. It's not unusual to feel hopeless or that you won't ever again find joy and happiness in life.

While it's true that your life will never return to how it was before, it's possible to heal from your pain and suffering and learn to live life again. You'll need to figure out how to bring new meaning into your life to help you through the most challenging aspects of coping with grief after a loss. 

Some of the ways that losing a loved one can affect motivation are:

  • Loss of interest in day-to-day life
  • Feelings of emotional and physical exhaustion 
  • Lack of energy to do anything 
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Emotional numbness during grief 

How to Increase Your Motivation After Losing a Loved One

Many types of grief can creep in when dealing with a lack of motivation and energy after a loss. You may not feel like doing anything other than staying in bed when a loved one dies. Even so, ignoring your grief and its effects may put you at a higher risk of developing more severe issues such as chronic grief or depression.

Regaining some of that lost motivation is essential to achieving a healthy recovery from grief. The following are some ideas that may help.

Allow time for healing

Your grief journey will differ from everyone else’s and will follow its own path and timeline. Avoid comparing your experiences to others as there’s no right or wrong way to grieve. What you can count on is that healing takes time. There’s no rushing through grief to get to the finish line, as there might not ever be one.

Expect that your pain and suffering will ebb and flow as time goes on. Some days you’ll feel overwhelmed by your grief, while others may feel as if you’ve made progress. With normal grief, twelve months is a good indicator of the time that’s needed to heal. Nevertheless, with more complicated grief, the journey may take many years. For some, it will last a lifetime. 

Make a wish list

Some people find it motivating to make a list of all the things they wish they could do before they can’t. Consider the things you’ve wanted to do or accomplish before advanced age, illness, or death gets in the way.

Writing down your list will help you regain focus and clarity on your life and find new meaning. Go through your list and prioritize it in order of most importance to you. Tuck your wish list away somewhere you’ll remember a few weeks or months from now.  

Go somewhere alone

Taking a trip alone may be very healing to your soul. You may be thinking that this isn't the right time to take a trip or that it's selfish of you to do so. Whatever you're thinking, a special trip has many potential benefits to you after suffering a significant loss.

Consider this a time to reconnect with yourself, continue the bond with your deceased loved one, or a way of taking a break from your grief. Being alone will also help you rediscover who you are, allow you time to clear your head, and refocus your energies on giving new meaning to your life. 

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Pick up a new hobby

When a loved one dies, thinking about anything other than your loss can be challenging. Even the little things tend to remind you of them. Take ample time to process your grief before even considering returning to everyday life. However, picking up a new hobby after a loved one's death may help you cope with your grief.

Hobbies offer a respite from your sorrow. They provide a healthy distraction from your pain and suffering and can give you a new way to release any pent-up emotions and other grief-related symptoms. 

Figure out who you’ve become

Tackle one thing at a time. Reserve the most energy for the things that are a high priority on your to-do list. Remember to include yourself when going through the list of what needs the most attention.

Perhaps you'll discover that you're no longer the same person you once were, and you'll need to take the time to find out who you've become. Once you figure out how you fit in with your new identity, ask yourself how you want to live your life from this moment forward. 

For many who've lost a loved one, roles and identities change. For example, when a child or spouse dies, a huge portion of who you were no longer exists. You'll need to look for ways to reinvent yourself while still holding on to the person you were before your loss. You may want to pick up a few books about finding yourself at your local bookstore or library. 

How to Motivate a Loved One After a Death

Knowing how to relate to someone who's suffered a tragedy in their lives may be challenging. You may not be able to relate to their feelings and emotions that come from the profound pain and suffering they're experiencing. Finding ways to encourage someone who's suffering is not always easy.

However, there are many creative ways to motivate someone without pressuring them into moving past their grief before they're ready. Some ways to help a grieving loved one are listed below. 

Be supportive

After experiencing the death of a loved one, you can expect that there’ll be good days and bad days interspersed for the next several weeks and months. Being supportive can take on many different forms during this time.

In the early stages, be specific about how you can help out while your loved one is trying to deal with the death and all the immediate responsibilities that follow. Figure out how you can help and take action. As time goes on, follow-up with phone calls, text messages, and dropping in to say hello from time to time. 

Talk about things

Give your loved one several opportunities to talk about their loss. Releasing your feelings and emotions after dealing with a tragedy is one of the best ways to heal from grief.

Prepare yourself to hear the same stories over and over. Be patient, kind, and remember that this too shall pass. Your loved one will one day move past this stage of their grief. Until then, let yourself become their outlet as you encourage them to talk about it. 

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Keep encouraging

Encouragement and motivation come in many different forms. Simple things like text messages reminding your loved ones to keep their head up and asking them about how they’re feeling go a long way in making someone feel better. Perhaps you don’t know precisely the right words to say, but a few sincere words go a long way over silence or keeping your distance.

Even when you don’t think your words are affecting your loved one, know that people who are grieving may not always remember what you said exactly, but they’ll remember how you made them feel. 

Help them plan

Motivating your loved one who’s grieving can come in the form of helping them plan for a future life without their loved one in it. You may need to point out some obvious things that may have escaped them, such as retitling assets, moving to a smaller home, and making a new financial and household budget.

You may even want to consider encouraging them to seek grief counseling to help them adjust to their new life and prepare them for all that lies ahead. 

Go out somewhere

Arrange to take a day off to spend it with your loved one on a special outing planned just for them. Encourage them to get up, get dressed, and out of the house for a change in scenery. 

Staying home alone for too long after the death of a loved one can lead to depression and isolation. Try and have the day planned out without burdening your loved one with making decisions on where to go and what to do. 

Getting Motivated After the Loss of a Loved One

Finding motivation after tragedy and loss can be most challenging to someone who’s still learning to cope with their grief. Whether you’re trying to motivate yourself or someone you love to get out there and get back to life, you’ll likely be met with at least some pushback. Keep trying and keep encouraging. When the time is right, your encouragement and motivation will start to take effect. 

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