When A Dream Dies, 10 Things You Can Do

by Sherry Riter in Divorce,Lessons of Life,Relationship,Self-Development  ,Tom

white dying flower petals like dying dreams

Regardless of age, height, weight, gender, nationality, religious views, occupation or marital status, when a dream dies there is much disappointment, sadness and heartache. Some people get over the whole dying dream experience better and faster than others, but everyone suffers to some extent.

As for me, hmmm…Do you want me to be honest? Well, as Tom used to say, “Sherry, you do not suffer well.” He was right. I do not suffer disappointment, pain, sickness or heartbreak silently or without tears. I cry a lot when I’m hurting. There just seems to be an endless supply of those darn tears. Even when I try to hide the fact that I’ve been crying, my skin is so fair that it gives me away by turning pink…ummm, very pink.

I had an important dream and it died…

When my marriage to Tom ended, I felt like my future would be very empty. My daughter will move away, marry and have a life of her own some day. I am no longer the central figure in her life nor should I be, but that leaves a huge gap in my life.

Rather than be angry and bitter at my marriage ending, I am still sad and heartbroken at the loss of my dreams. It was more than just the loss of Tom, it was a loss of my future and all the things I dreamed in my future. As time passes, the bad memories fade and the good memories haunt me. It reminds me of that saying that originated from the movie, “My Fair Lady”….I’ve grown accustomed to (his) face. Yeah, I did and that makes my present condition quite lonely.

I dreamed of a life with Tom that would take us into old age and rocking in chairs side by side. That kind of dream doesn’t just slip softly away.

The dream and expectation was my future.

The dream and expectation was my goal.

The dream was happy, peaceful and comforting.

The dream was actually my reality and we were supposed to be working toward it together.

The dream died and the tears never stopped. They appear out of the blue sometimes when I least expect them. There are days that a song plays, someone wears the same cologne as Tom, has mannerisms, plays the guitar or sings like him. That’s all it takes to throw me back into “what might have been, but won’t ever be.”

The end of a marriage or the end of any dream is hard for me to cope with and that is why I am writing a post with a few tips to help everyone like me who is suffering from the pain caused by the death of dream.

dreams die like flower petals

What Can You Do When A Dream Dies?

Now that I have shared my heartbreaking story about an important dream that died, reflect on a dream of your own that was never realized. You might find that you naturally went through the following tips or maybe you are still working on “getting over” the heartbreak:

  1. Grieve/Mourn – Cry, scream, sob, feel sad, stop smiling and do whatever you feel like doing. Losing a dream hurts. Stuffing the hurt down will only be a temporary remedy. When we stuff our feelings down and try to hide them, the pain will eventually manifest itself somewhere and it usually isn’t a pretty sight. So allow yourself to go through the grieving process. There’s really no reason to hide your pain. Feeling it will allow your heart and mind the opportunity to heal.
  2. Free Time – If necessary, have every day filled with carefree timelessness. When a dream dies, it not only affects your heart, but it also seeps into every other aspect of your life. Providing yourself the time to do anything you want whenever you want to do it will take the pressure off you to succeed in multiple tasks. Your responsibility after a dream dies is to heal. That’s it. Just take the time to heal by giving yourself the right to have lots of free time void of commitments and responsibilities.
  3. Share – Most “people” don’t want to listen to you go on and on about how sad you are that your dream died. It just isn’t something most people want to do. There are some friends or family members that will be there to listen no matter how many times you express your pain. A sure bet on someone listening to you while you mourn is to find a psychologist/therapist. You can talk for fifty minutes to an hour every week and they will listen. Not only will the psychologist/therapist listen, but they will also help you move through the grieving process. It is definitely a winning solution. But whether you share with your friends, family or psychologist/therapist, just be sure that you do share your grief and it will make the burden easier to bear.
  4. Do Stuff – Don’t sit and stare out the window counting clouds that float by each day. Use your spare time to do stuff. You can do stuff alone or with people, inside your home, outside in nature or with the masses at the shopping malls. By turning your attention to “other things” instead of just focusing on your loss, it will not only give your tear ducts a break, but it will also provide relief to your suffering heart and mind.
  5. Forgive – Forgiving is a powerful action. It takes so much energy to harbor anger and resentment. It can actually consume you! When a dream dies, make a concerted effort to forgive the person(s) or thing(s) that caused the loss. Don’t skip this step. It is so important to release all those ill feelings inside and allow peace to encompass you and your aching heart.
  6. Happy People – Surround yourself with happy people who laugh because it is contagious. It may take you time to mingle with people or even to feel something is humorous, but the aura or vibe that happy people give off will help you heal from the lost dream.
  7. Enjoy Memories – It is okay to think about the dream that died and enjoy the memories that it conjures up. Those thoughts are helpful. Have you ever buried your face in the clothing of someone you love after they die? You can feel the cloth and smell their scent. It is both comforting and painful. In a way, it also brings a little peace. You don’t feel so far away from the person anymore even though they have died. Well, the same concept is true about a lost dream. Enjoy the memories and let them comfort you while you are mourning.
  8. New Goals/Dreams – Write down new goals and dreams. Just brainstorm everything that enters your mind even if it seems impossible. Later you can go back and narrow down the list to a few things that you really want to work towards. Dreams provide hope which helps us feel happy. With hopes and dreams, disappointments in life become easier to face. When a dream dies, take the time to dream another dream.
  9. Immersion – Bury yourself in worthwhile activities. Not only will you accomplish something constructive, but by focusing your attention on something other than your grief, your heart will have space to heal. At one time you were immersed in your dream and then it died. Before it died, you enjoyed happiness in that dream. By immersing yourself in other things, it will help to fill the aching hole in your heart.
  10. Take Your Time – Losing a dream is literally a death and it feels like one too. Take your time to heal from the death of the dream in order to cope with the huge emptiness you feel from the loss. Be kind too yourself in the same way you would be kind to someone who had a loved one die. You aren’t in a race and there isn’t a time limit on your grieving, so take you time to get through the healing process at a speed that makes you feel comfortable. Remember, things change and how you cope with those changes is the real key to future happiness.

dreams die like  delicate flower petals

I know that life changes every day and that the only thing I really can control is my reactions. I’ve had that drilled into my head for so long that it is part of my DNA. However, just because I know that change is inevitable, it doesn’t mean that all changes have happy endings.

As an older woman who found love a second time later in life, I had a head and heart full of dreams for the future. When my marriage dream with Tom started unraveling, I was truly devastated. Then later without warning, I had to cope with my daughter’s horrifying experience, PTSD, Bella nearly dying and the death of my father.

I realize that it has been A LOT for me to cope with and I am allowing myself to heal at my own pace. I know that no one really grasps what I’ve been through with my PTSD and I finally accept it. Because of that knowledge, I no longer stress at lame comments people make about my residual symptoms. I see their inability to understand as their problem. If they really want to understand my struggles with PTSD, they just have to make the effort to understand. Trying to make me fit into the mold of who I used to be years ago before all that stuff happened or to be like “other” people is simply…ignorant.

When a dream dies, there are many things you can do to help get you through the pain and disappointment. Your heart may still break and the tears may flow for a long time, but I know that eventually everyone heals to one degree or another. So I will keep coping and loving myself. It is true that my dream died and I am without Tom. Nothing can change that fact and I must let my broken heart heal at it’s own pace. Meanwhile, I focus on getting rid of my PTSD so that I can once again be whole.

If your dream has died, have courage and don’t give up. The light at the end of the tunnel may be very far away, but you can get there and so can I…one teardrop at a time.

white dying flower petals

This post was written by...

Sherry Riter is also known as The Redhead Riter. Sherry is witty, intelligent and addictive as she writes about cooking, family, marriage, failures, blogging tips, art, humor, inspiration, travel, PTSD and aging. Her goal is to inspire, motivate, educate and to make her audience laugh. Sherry embraces being a redhead and helps others to see the redhead point of view…"In some eras redheads were worshipped while others thought us witches. Personally, I like the former and think every day is 'Love a redhead day!'" She can also be found on Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, StumbleUpon, Linkedin, tweeting as @TheRedheadRiter and you can subscribe to her free blog feed.

{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Susanne December 6, 2012 at 7:06 am

Hi Sherri,

Imagine when several dreams die.

I’m sincerely, sorry for you loss. Controlling our reactions and having those words being drilled into our heads. It is exhausting, isn’t it? I agree that change does not guarantee a happy ending. In fact, the word change and the thought of it brings on anxiety because so many endings have not been positive. What was once something that was embraced is now paralyzing. It was calculated and well thought out, why then did it not end happily?

I hope one day your mourning will be over and you look back at your life with Tom with great fondness. I hope one day many of us can simply forgive ourselves.

Hugs to you!


2 Sherry Riter December 6, 2012 at 8:01 am

Thank you Susanne. I hope everyone will forgive themselves because we are not perfect so how could we make perfect choices every time? {{{hugsss}}}


3 Melinda December 6, 2012 at 8:00 am

Beautiful post.


4 Sherry Riter December 6, 2012 at 8:25 am

Thank you, Melinda.


5 Skip_D December 6, 2012 at 3:11 pm

…a very powerful post, Sherry – & a very effective list. I’ve suffered long & hard over the death of several dreams, & found my way through the losses by following very much the same set of steps that you outline here.



6 Sherry Riter December 6, 2012 at 8:52 pm

Thank you, Skip. Sorry that you’ve suffered the death of dreams too. {{{hugggs backatcha}}}


7 Young Werther December 6, 2012 at 6:43 pm

Many a time I’ve said that blogging is akin to visiting a psychologist, the ummms and ahhhs, little different to comments, the best bit about blogging… its free!

Thanks for sharing.


8 Sherry Riter December 6, 2012 at 8:53 pm

Thank you for visiting my blog. 🙂


9 Bev December 6, 2012 at 10:06 pm

I know this post also came with tears. Hugs. And tissues, here share mine! I lost dreams and you are right it is a death. It takes courage to move through it, time to heal from it and wisdom to know it forever changes you. Keep up the good fight. Hope that the PTSD ends soon. You are a super person and riter!


10 Sherry Riter December 7, 2012 at 1:02 am

Thank you so much Bev especially for the hugs and tissues. 😉 {{{hugsss}}}


11 Heather December 7, 2012 at 3:09 am

Hello! Thank you for writing such a heartfelt and helpful article! You have such a lovely spirit and it shows in your writing.I
It is so difficult when we realize that we’ve been doing “all the right things for the wrong people”, but I do believe that our dreams don’t really die. They do perhaps get postponed or ‘rearranged’, but they always find us if we keep our hearts open.
I look forward to reading your future blogs and wish you great happiness,
Kind Regards, Heather


12 Sherry Riter December 7, 2012 at 8:25 am

Thank you very much, Heather for reading my post and your lovely comment. {{{hugsss}}}


13 mom December 7, 2012 at 4:48 pm

This too will pass. You will rise above this experience. I have had so many dreams flop,lol. I stop dreaming and live today. I tried the Lord at his word, “Take no thought for tomorrow.” I love you and am very proud of you.


14 Sherry Riter December 10, 2012 at 12:16 am

Thanks Mom.


15 Joan December 8, 2012 at 1:35 pm

What a heartfelt and inspirational post! Thank you for writing it. I am sure it will resonate with anyone who has ever experienced the loss of a dream – and who among us has not experienced the loss of our dreams?

Just remember: Dreams may fade only to become a reality later. 🙂


16 Sherry Riter December 10, 2012 at 12:29 am

Thanks Joan.


17 Robert Bourne December 9, 2012 at 8:32 pm

it took me a long time and many years before I learned some of the ten things… but at least I know they are right… 🙂


18 Sherry Riter December 10, 2012 at 12:29 am

We live and learn! Thanks Robert.


19 Cindy December 11, 2012 at 9:39 pm

You are living my dream.. footloose & fancy free to do as you please.. My dream of endless travel is dying due to an elderly husband who dislikes travel.. I guess the lesson is that we must be happy w/ what we have..


20 Sherry Riter December 12, 2012 at 12:02 am

You said, “I guess the lesson is that we must be happy w/ what we have..” That’s a hard lesson to learn, ya know? I love being a “wife” and “mother” to people who “need” me. Living with only myself to take care of and do things with is a very hard adjustment. I prefer marriage over being single. I guess I just enjoy having someone to share my life with and making memories as we go along. {{{hugssss}}}


21 The Atomic Mom December 16, 2012 at 1:13 am

WOW! Didn’t expect to read this particular entry, but it is kind of timely. I am in the middle of deciding if I want to let a very important dream die, or if I want to push myself to do this particular thing. Weighing all the opportunity costs.


22 Sherry Riter December 16, 2012 at 4:47 am

Good luck with your decision. I hope my perspective helps you accept your choice. {{{hugggss}}}


23 Paul January 3, 2014 at 10:15 am

I couldn’t have found this post at a better time. I’m currently grieving the loss of a relationship I thought and hoped would be forever. I feel like the joy has gone out of my life and I have nothing to look forward to. I know over the coming weeks I’ll likely be re-reading this article many times. I guess it just helps to know that other people can relate to what I am feeling.


24 Sherry Riter January 4, 2014 at 8:20 pm

I’m glad you enjoyed the post, Paul, but I’m sorry that you are hurting. I hope your pain eases and you find comfort with others who care for you. {{{hugsss}}}


25 Nancy March 1, 2014 at 2:18 pm

Hello Sherry,

I have just found your article by searching on Google “my dream has died”. I want to thank you, now I’m not feeling alone anymore. You seem to have read inside my heart and I really feel your article is addressed to ME.

Thanks God, the death of my dream is not on someone’s death related, but it meant the world to me. I have been dreaming about this since I was 16 (I am almost 34 now) and now I have to face the fact that it will never come true. Never. It hurts physically so bad that all I want to do is lay down and cry, cry until the last teardrop. Now I’m empty. I cannot dream anymore. I feel like I don’t have nothing anymore. I do have my husband, who understands me and supports me and I’m so grateful for this. But even he can’t make my dream come true. Nobody can do it, not anymore.
I currently see a psychologist (other things related) and I hope he will help me through this.

Once again, thank you for having written this – and I apologize if my English is not the best, as I am not a native English speaker.

All the best and God bless you and your family.


26 Sherry Riter March 4, 2014 at 5:41 pm

I’m so glad you found hope by reading the post and that you have a supportive husband.

My only suggestion is to remain receptive, honest and determined in your therapy. {{{hugssss}}}


27 Ruby Ridgeway skateboarder February 22, 2015 at 12:55 am

I found out that my dream of going to Wood Ward West is not going to happen what should I do I’m so sad about this because I want to do tricks ,learn and have new good friends what should I do.


28 Sherry Riter February 25, 2015 at 1:39 pm

I’m sorry that you can’t go. Maybe it is time for a new dream. 😀


29 Erin March 10, 2015 at 12:19 pm

Sherry, thank you for sharing this. I’m sorry that you and the people who have commented here suffered lost dreams. I’m with you guys, adjusting to the idea of losing mine as well. Thank you for sharing, its sadly comforting to know I’m not alone.


30 Sherry Riter March 17, 2015 at 5:43 am

{{{hugsss}}} It is comforting to know that we aren’t the only person who has lost. Not that it makes us happy that others are also sad, but it makes the alone feeling not quite so alone.


31 Sarah July 21, 2016 at 11:17 pm

Hello. I thoroughly enjoyed your post. I found tears in my eyes as I can relate to these feelings. My question…perhaps you have some advice…I am still moving forward from a dream that has died. It is exciting to think of a new dream. However, I have no idea what that would look like and when I try to think about a new dream I am not even sure that that is what I would want. It all seems to far and removed to hope for as I don’t want to set inappropriate expectations to only be disappointed. Any thought. Thank you.


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