Death as a Sacred Transition
Loss and grief are natural experiences every human being walks through in their lifetime. Navigating any loss brings up our deepest emotions. In the stillness of our grief we are asked to go on without our loved one, yet we might not know how to do it. How do we learn about healthy grieving?
The richness of life is often measured by our experiences and how they make us feel. A loss can help us realize the value of someone no longer in our lives. Each one of us will experience multiple losses in our lifetime. We will process these losses through our grief. Our humanity requires that we navigate our losses so as to re-define who we are and how we live our life anew. Losing a loved one is a part of life and yet few of us are given tools for dealing with our loss.
When we grieve we are not only grieving the immediate loss (usually the death of a loved one) but all other losses we have not processed in our lives. Why? Because the death of a loved one also brings up the great sense of loss we have experienced from past events that have gone unprocessed. When we do not move through our grief in healthy ways, we actually suppress the emotions inside our cells. Often we find ourselves instead dealing with our grief in unhealthy ways including increased addictions, isolation, depression and unhealthy relationships.
Because loss is such a universally significant event in our lives, it is essential we learn how to face our losses with the tools necessary to move through our grief and come out the other end with a deeper understanding of self. Who we are following a loss will not be the same as who we were before that loss. How do we move forward in our lives in a way that enhances our life, not impede it?
Culturally dealing with death, loss, and grief is expected to be accomplished behind closed doors. This attitude inherently suggests that we do not discuss openly our losses or how we are navigating through them. Rather, the expectation to “deal with it” during the “three day bereavement leave” that is permitted in the workplace does not encourage a supportive outcome. It is commonly taken for granted that following any loss we are expected to the workplace and continue with our duties in the same manner we did prior to our loss. In some cases it is considered “normal” to not acknowledge the loss to the bereaved.
No one is the same after a loss. Yet all aspects of loss are normally expected to be done behind closed doors. It’s a dichotomy to grieve our loss while being expected to “act normal”. This is counter-intuitive to our humanness. In that duality loss and grief are ostracized from our daily lives.
The cultural mores behind these attitudes do not encourage a loving, supportive environment in which to openly mourn. Learning how to re-integrate the changes that loss and grief bring about will impact the rest of our journey. As a common human experience we cherish our memories, resist change and struggle with the letting go of our loved one. Healthy grieving is necessary if we are to re-create the life we want. Culturally, we have an opportunity to reframe how we grieve and how we support those grieving. Increasing dialogue while educating the collective can promote a more supportive environment for those dealing grieving. Compassionate understanding plays a role in holding sacred space for anyone navigating loss.
Spiritually, a new enhanced understanding of our relationship with our loved one makes itself known following their death. We may notice that we experience a different sense of what they meant to us. Emotions arise that may feel foreign or difficult. Our ability to feel settled may not exist. We may undergo a huge paradigm shift in identifying our true place in the world.
We may even struggle with our own sense of self. A full range of emotions may appear, causing us to stop in our tracks while being forced to address our own feelings.
In some instances, we may not feel engaged in the world or have any desire to interact with others. Feeling lost, alone, misunderstood, or unable to experience comfort even from those attempting to comfort us are all typical expressions of our grief. All of these experiences and more are normal during any loss.
This site offers insight, support and love on your grief walk. My own personal losses as well as my experiences in hospice and working with death and dying allow me to gently hold sacred space for you to live your life anew again. Check out our blog on loss and grief.