It is always a difficult time with those suffering from the loss of a loved one.
Unfortunately we are not taught to prepare for the death of someone close to us, although grief is one of the strongest emotions we’ll ever have to bear. It produces feelings of loss, helplessness and sadness that are very difficult to cope with.
We all show grief in diverse ways. This happens because we are all different in personality, how we cope with stress, how we communicate emotions, the relationship you had with the person, the circumstances under which the death occurred, age, the support you have around you, personal issues which may be brought to the surface at this time.
There are so many emotions of shock, numbness, panic, anger, despair, pain, sorrow, blame, confusion, loneliness, isolation, bitterness, guilt, depression, fear, low energy, rejection, emptiness and sometimes even relief when there has been a sickness, that they are no longer suffering.
When we lose a loved one, time seems to stand still. We are faced with the past, the present and the future all at once. It becomes a jumble of shattered dreams, utterly destroyed.
We may say… ‘I’ll never get over it’, or ‘I’ll never forget it’ – and nor should we, because we should cherish the memory of that person, however, it is essential that we become comfortable with that, for we are not meant to go on locked in suffering, unable to move on – our loved ones would not want that.
We must not let grief dictate our lives, somehow we need to face the future, adapt to the changes in our life and it takes courage, acceptance and optimism to move on – not an easy task.
Throughout the cycle of life, we are challenged to grieve and let go. There is no set pattern to follow when you are grieving. There is no ‘right way’ way to grieve. We all need space and time to grieve if we are to have our pain replaced by acceptance and come up with coping strategies which can help endure the pain of the loss.
It is essential to realise just what grief is. Grief is ‘love’, and it is because we feel such pain – because the inner ache is so great, it hurts so much – that we know the depth of our love. Grief simply cannot and does not exist except where there has been love.
One way to help us is to make our lost loved ones, part of our future lives. A way we can do this is to accept the fact that they have left us, but give them a continuing stake in how we live.
In this way, they are not just part of the past in our memories or of the present, but will continue to live and to achieve through whatever we have taken from their lives and added to our own for the benefit of others. And by doing this, we can feel a wonderful closeness to them, even listening for their voice.
Don’t be afraid to grieve, for grief is an expression of your love.
Think about, talk about and treasure your memories of your loved one, and be your own timekeeper. Heal in your own way and in your own time. The experience of grief is powerful, so too, is your ability to help yourself to heal. In doing the work of grieving, you are moving toward a renewed sense of meaning and purpose in your life. Your life won’t be same.
The beautiful serenity prayer says:
“God grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Those simple words mean ‘change what you can, but accept what you cannot.’
If my words have had any meaning at all, then let it be this:
In accepting the reality of loss, a change will occur in our values and priorities. Things that once seemed important may become unimportant and things that were unimportant may take on a new significance. When our values and priorities change, so do our lives.
Let us strive together, and succeed in overcoming the grief that comes from our love.
Let us recognise the beauty and the purpose of these lost lives, and make those lives part of our own lives.
Let them add to our growth, and the quality and strength of our character.
Let our loved ones make a difference to our lives. They would want to know that they did make a positive difference in our lives. That their life meant something.
Remember – our loved ones would not want us to grieve in hurt or pain, but grieve in the joy that they gave us, that they received and that they shared.
I admire the fortitude and courage of people, and the strength and unity of friendship and love, so remember those around you who can help.
How to help someone in Grief.
- Listen to them
- Don’t be afraid to talk about the person who has passed away
- Resist giving advice
- Realise that no special words are needed
- Just being there for them is incredibly important
- Help in practical ways
- Don’t put a time limit on grief
- Don’t have expectations of that person
- Remember Anniversaries, Birthdays, etc.