“Put the past behind you” … “You should be moving on” … “Don’t think too much about it”.

No doubt you’ve heard those words – and many others like them.

Death can still be a taboo subject for many, particularly when the death is premature. And sometimes it seems that people want the bereaved to ‘get better’ and ‘get on with life’. Maybe it’s because somehow, to them, that’s ‘neater’. Or maybe it’s because they can’t bear to think of the loss and devastation that comes with bereavement.

All of us who have lost a partner will have some insight into how there’s a big hole in our hearts and lives.

Although we have no option but to accept the fact that our partner has died, the person whom we intended to spend the rest of our lives with will inevitably continue to have a big impact on our lives – and should do so.

The concept of our partner living on in our lives in some form or another is called ‘continuing bonds’. But how might you have positive ‘continuing bonds’?

Memories are precious – and although some will fade, there are those we will want to hold on to forever. The first time you met, your first house, the birth of your children, special holidays, photographs and videos. Memories of special and meaningful times in your relationship, when you felt more in love than ever. The things that made you smile.

The parts of your partner that are still living on in you – the things you learnt from them, the changes for good that happened in you because of them.

Special keepsakes that remind you of your partner – the things they did, the things they said, their personality. Whatever it is that was good and hopeful in your relationship.

The love that your partner had for you – and the knowledge that they would want nothing but the best for you on your ‘different journey’.

Recognising continuing bonds can be very sad and painful in the early months – but don’t let anyone rob you of them.

Find someone to share them with, who knew you both and who will understand and can empathise with your story.

They won’t make you sad all the time or forever. Your continuing bonds will change and sadness will eventually turn into fond recollections.

They will enable you to build into your new future all that was good about your relationship.

Continuing bonds are important – they honour the past and provide a foundation for a hopeful future.

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