Saying goodbye to a loved one

In Memory of your Loved One

Death is a funny concept to wrap your head around. Death, by definition (n) is the end of the life of a person but I’m convinced it is more than that. It is a celebration. A remembrance of a legacy. See, I believe death to be an experience or ‘journey’ if you will. The reason I say this is much like every family journey whether it be going on a camping trip or taking a trip to the beach, it has its ups and downs, the uncertainty of what lies ahead (flat tyres, accidents, getting lost) and of course, the endless mixed emotions but it is a time of being surrounded by your loved ones, knowing that nothing on Earth matters in that moment in time. That you are there to offer support, to love and be loved.

If we were to apply the same filter and see death itself as a journey, it wouldn’t be as difficult of a concept to grasp and accept. It too has its ups and downs of reminiscing about the good times and working through the bad of possibly regretting not spending enough time with that person or not knowing them well enough but it too is a time of self-reflection and self-evaluation.

Losing a loved one can be a trying, confusing and traumatic time which is why it is so so so so important to remember that how we cope with loss is an extremely personal experience whereby each and every person will process, react and grieve differently. There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to feel but there are a few basic and universal steps to the grieving process and hopefully by knowing these steps you are able to work through the passing of a loved one as well as help others through their journey to acceptance.

1 – Let the feelings flow

The worst thing you could possibly do during this time is to try suppress and ignore the emotions that you are feeling. Coping with the loss of a loved one can bring out a number of emotions and responses in you. Feelings you never thought could hurt as much and you may feel at times as if there is one emotion that seems to dominate the others, that’s okay. Rest assured you aren’t going crazy. It is only natural to feel a thousand things at once and then nothing at all.

Gently remind yourself in your time of bereavement that your feelings are yours, and they are well within the norm given the context.  It’s also important to your process of healing that you learn to understand that there is no “right” or “wrong” when it comes to your feelings about losing a loved one. Let your family and friends in and let all the emotions out.

2 – Two is better than one

Death can invite a number of emotions and thoughts into your life, such as wanting to be alone during this time, trying to convince yourself that you can get through this on your own. And whilst you may think you are being strong and not a burden, you are really just hurting those who want to be there for you by pushing them away.

Gathering the support of friends, family, a life coach or perhaps a therapist are all people who can and should be approached during your grief process. These individuals can be a source of emotional support as well provide you with comfort and a different outlook on life. The death of a loved one often leaves a large hole in the life of the survivor that can be, at least temporarily, occupied by a support team.

3 – Let the process take over

Bereavement and grief is a process. It’s important to know that every person has their own way of coping with loss and you cannot put a time limit on your grief. You must allow yourself to experience the stages of grief as they come up.

There are five stages to the grieving process:

  • Denial: Your experience is incomprehensible, initially. You find it impossible to believe the loss of your loved one is real, and you may be numb from the experience. This is normal and is known as shock.
  • Anger: As the truth of the situation begins to take hold and set in, it’s normal to feel anger and rage. This anger may be directed at yourself, the loved one for leaving you or even the doctors for not healing your loved one.
  • Bargaining: It’s not unusual for survivors to cope with loss by trying to negotiate, usually with their higher power. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself trying to make an “if only” deal with God.
  • Depression: The overwhelming sadness you feel is normal, and in most cases will not last forever. It’s common to feel as if life will never be the same but just as important to remember that you will get through this as cliche as it may sound. Everything happens for a reason.
  • Acceptance: While this final stage of bereavement, grief is called “acceptance,” and refers to coming to terms with the finality of the loss and moving forward with your life. It does not mean that, from time to time, you may not revisit some of the stages listed above, but rather that the pain of your loss will become more manageable and not control your life as much.

4 – Take life by the horns

It is now time to be kind to yourself and move on with your life. This again doesn’t mean the pain or memory is forgotten, it just means you are now able to embrace your life.

In Loving Memory of my great Aunt Jeannie
“She made broken look beautiful
and strong look invincible.
She walked with the Universe
on her shoulders and made it
look like a pair of wings.”  Oh how I loved you.

15 April, 2019

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