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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.