I hear from grieving people almost daily now. Their pain is often so raw that it is nearly unbearable to read their messages, and I realize that since I cannot feel grief myself I am handicapped in my attempts to help them. But I try!
Grief is a process. It is composed of a number of elements: the loss of old habits, fear for the loved one, loneliness, nostalgia, anger, guilt, self-pity, and more. All are very low-vibration emotions, so each of them is painful; and in combination, they can be unbearable! It is in the nature of grief that it will lessen over time – it should be a lot less painful beyond the first year – but you can help it along by trying to understand what the particular mix of negative emotions is in your own case. I suggest to most people the following steps:
1) Pamper yourself. Especially when the grief is fresh, listen hard for your own feelings and wishes and try to do exactly what you want to do from minute to minute of every day. Your mind knows what it needs to do to heal! Don’t be around people who make you feel worse: it is important that you be ruthless about that. Treat yourself as the emotional invalid that you are. Certainly don’t spend time with anyone who tells you that you have got to get over it!
2) Learn all that you can about where your loved one is now. Depending on how you process information, there are lots of books that you might read; and I urge you strongly to subscribe to the Zammits’ weekly newsletter (go to victorzammit.com). My The Fun of Dying is a quick summary, and it includes an annotated bibliography that can help you find lots of additional books. But the news is all good! And the more you learn, the more you should begin to feel more comfortable about your loved one’s present situation.
3) Learn about the signs that our loved ones give to us. It is generally true that your grief has to lessen before your newly-dead loved one can get through to you with signs, which is another reason why it is important that you work on managing your grief.
4) Let go of all negativity, especially anger and guilt. The most intractable form of grief is guilt-based, anger-based, or a combination of the two; so if as you examine your feelings you find that you feel guilty or angry about anything, then it will be important that you work on forgiving yourself and forgiving all your anger. The guilt and anger generally won’t lessen otherwise, and people typically feel that they are still actively grieving even many years later when what they really mostly are feeling at that point is guilt or rage.
5) Learn to accept and live with your grief. It seems to be true for many people that grief never completely goes away; but if you manage it well, it can be tempered to a kind of wistfulness that ideally will be enlivened by occasional signs and messages. Your loved ones are young again, beautiful and healthy, and are having fun in a place without time! They can be close to you whenever they like, so there isn’t the sense of separation for them that there is for you. And the love is stronger than ever!
Believe it or not, it is possible to lose someone close to you and hardly grieve at all. When you are certain about what is going on, you find that you are clueless about other people’s grief: my impulse is always to say how happy I am for the person who at last has gone home, but grieving people don’t want to hear that so instead I express my sympathy for the living. When each of my parents died, despite the fact that I was close to them I felt only glad for them that at last they were free of their useless old bodies. Human life is eternal! When you are certain of that – really certain of it – then seeing people grieve at a death will no longer make sense to you, either.
photo credit: Aramisse <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/13989429@N00/35700149095″>Woman with an urn</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a>
photo credit: 2bmolar <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/12463666@N03/35354665303″>Dried Tears</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>(license)</a>