Where angels fear to tread…
This week I am treading where angels fear to tread, because it is like the elephant in the room. I want to share something about grief and loss.
Between 40,000 and 60,000 people have died in the last three months or so due to the virus. Therefore, at least 40,000, and maybe up to 120,000 people, are plunged into grief. In addition, there are all the people who are mourning the loss of their business, income, way of life… – temporarily or permanently. Also those who mourn the loss of a loved one from other causes.
Grief is such a complex emotion. My clients who have experienced the death of a loved one, myself included, all remark that they were not prepared for the actual physical pain, even agony, that can occur at this time. It really does feel that your heart is breaking.
My heart goes out to anyone reading this who is in such a place. It may feel worse, because maybe you weren’t able to be present at the bedside when your loved one died. It may feel as if one’s absence was somehow the cause of the event and can cause feelings of guilt as well as grief. Actually, it often seems that the person, hovering on the edge, seems to wait for the space afforded by the absence of the anxious and concerned family to quietly slide away.
I can offer no panacea to help you through this. It helps to have friends and family to support you but, in the end, it is you that has to go through it. Hold on to the love of others to keep you steady, but the journey through the grief can only be taken by you.
Be gentle with yourself. Be courageous. Make no decision, big or small.
The main thing is to allow yourself to cry. It may feel as if you would cry and never end, but this is never true. I have collapsed in wracking sobs in the past. It has always passed in a few moments, leaving me feeling empty but calmer. It can help to just say “I really miss…”
Grief generates physical molecules of emotion. The only way they can leave the body is through tears. Unless these molecules leave the body, they remain and can cause all sorts of problems later, at any level of one’s being – physical, emotional, mental or spiritual.
Be aware that grief needs to go through several stages before it can be resolved and accepted. These are shock, denial/disbelief, bargaining, guilt, anger, depression and finally acceptance. These can be physical, emotional, social or religious It can be good to keep these stages in mind, so if you find yourself deep in one of them, you can keep going, as some part of you knows this too will end and it is ok to feel as you do. There is no right/wrong good or bad, it is how it is.
Elizabeth Kubler-Ross has written extensively on the subject.
Express how you feel to a trusted friend or a counsellor. (If there seems to be no-one, call the Samaritans). Hang in there. Keep as steady as you can. Reach out for a hand to hold when it feels as if the ground has opened up beneath you. You will survive.
The one who has died will also send you love and spiritual support. Remember, it is only the physical body that has died. The spirit, the part that you experienced as the ‘aliveness’ of that person, continues on.
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