The loss of a limb is overwhelming, both physically and emotionally, leaving you with questions like: “How will I care for myself?” “What will life be like?” “Will I be able to do the things I enjoy?”

Though the loss of a limb can feel devastating, there are many people living productive, exciting, and fulfilling lives after limb loss. The first step, after you’ve come to terms with the reality of the loss, is to not let it stop you from living a full, rich life. You can take care of yourself and find a way to participate in many, if not all, of the activities you once enjoyed. The key is to remain positive in spirit and to not let anything hinder your recovery, while remaining committed and determined, not letting the loss of a limb define you or interfere with your lifestyle. With this outlook, you’ll find there’s next to nothing you can’t overcome.

With over 1.75 million people living with limb loss in the United States, you are not alone. It is best to be prepared for what lies ahead and to gather support, especially in the early days, when the loss felt is the greatest, and when learning to use your new prosthesis is most crucial. Be sure to consult with a Prosthetist early on to help you understand what to expect, and to get expert advice and fittings.

One of the most important aspects, outside of healing, rehabilitation, and any prosthetic devices that may be necessary, is the emotional support you and your loved ones are going to need to move your life forward. It’s a good idea to seek out those who’ve been through what you’re going through. They can help you deal with your limb loss and the new challenges you may be facing.

Though everyone experiences limb loss uniquely, there are commonalities and lessons that others have learned that you may be able to benefit from. Some experience anger, and others depression or hopelessness, while others may take it in stride, as just another challenge. It’s important to note that there is no right or wrong way to experience your loss, nor is there a magic timeline for healing, but there are things you can do to help ensure your future success and fulfillment.

Invoking gratitude for the abilities you do have and remembering that you lost a limb, but not your life, can be a helpful way to find the strength to move forward in your time of loss. It should also be noted that losing a limb does not automatically mean you are incapable, disabled, or a burden on your friends and family.

While it can be difficult to see past your lost limb to your future, most people who experience such a loss are still capable of enjoying life to its fullest, just as they did before. The ability to focus on what you have, what you can do, and how you can adapt, instead of focusing on any deficiency or disability, will serve you well as you recover.