How often have you been told “not to get your hopes up.” There’s this idea that if you expect the worst, you won’t be disappointed. In reality, we can’t really prepare for disappointment, just as we can’t prepare for grief, rejection or physical pain. Such feelings are triggered by circumstances – losing someone we love, not getting a job, or having surgery for example.
At the very least, having hope gives us confidence when we go for a job interview and in really tough times, hope can keep us alive. Can you imagine Madeleine McCann’s parents trying to exist without hope that their daughter is still alive? I’m sure they’ve lost count of how many times they’ve been told not to get their hopes up.
Strangely, it can be easier to move on after a broken heart if you accept the fact that a little bit of hope of reconciliation will remain for some time. When well meaning friends tell you that all hope is lost – he or she is never coming back – the resulting grief can be overwhelming. Whereas allowing that pilot light of hope to quietly burn while you get on with your life will often enable you to recover more quickly. Over time, the need for that hope fades. That’s when you know you are over your ex.
The hardest part of grief is the lack of hope that follows the death of a loved one. If death comes after a long illness, there would have been a trail of hope-filled paths that you had been navigating. Doctors encouraging affairs to be sorted and families being warned to prepare for the worst. But throughout the journey, hope remains. Hope that they will be saved, hope that they will be given as much time as possible, and then hope that the end will be peaceful. Although the hope dies along side that person, its very existence makes the process easier to bear.