What grief and loss have taught me about life and living.
I started my relationship with grief and loss with the death of my father who suicided in June 2008; I now work as a grief counselor.
I use the word dead in here quite a bit, which may feel heavy but death is, suicide is and making it seem less heavy actually feels often like the pain/grief you are feeling is too much and it must be minimized or made to look/feel lighter.
This feels both hard for the person grieving and also in some ways dishonest to the person who died; death can be awful and violent but it can also be peaceful and profound.
My experience with it is very much both; being around the life that is remaining, the living ones, the bereaved; has taught me that there would not be great pain if there had not also been great love.
There is a huge difference in a “normal” death (that of an illness or the body shutting down) and a sudden death; both are death of the body but only one gives us time to process.
If I get a little bit of time to hold your hand and tell you I love you and I’ll miss you; I get to see you and know you’re dying, that time gives the psyche a little bit of space to start to process that you are going to leave here… That you are dying.
Take away that time and what is left is processing life as normal and not in one moment.
That lack of time is what can be so torturous on us bereaved. We as a society tend to not look at death often and even when we do it tends to be wrapped up quite quickly, at least in western society, which is what I have been exposed to.
To comprehend a death when we have had no real experience with it, in a single moment, is often traumatic
Add in violent details and that trauma becomes even more complex; often it is world shattering.
It is made traumatic by our inability to process it over time, without that time our system often goes into a state of shock which then has to soften before we can fully start to integrate the death and loss of the person.
Death has to be integrated into our society; that is what the dead have taught me. Graveyards should be a place of honouring and reflecting, not a place to get zombie snatched or mugged.
It is where the dead sleep and we as the living need to be in relationship with our dead because we will be, one day.
They were us and we will be them.
Let’s not forget that we are all dying, some slower than others.
The dead have so much to teach us about dying.
The dead have taught me that no matter what the relationship that existed while they were living, once they are dead it becomes much harder to move through any pain that may have been between you two.
The dead have taught me to take the extra moment and say what’s in your heart because you may not get a second chance, many don’t.
They’ve taught me that in the middle of the deepest, darkest, ugliest hole of pain we as humans can survive and actually become stronger and more precious for being in that place.
The dead have made me a better living person, my life and the lives of those around me is appreciated more because of them.
I know many of us have heard the stories of people who got touched by death and came back from it; how their lives were changed and many for the better. My question would be, what if we didn’t have to lose someone or even come close to it ourselves to get that change.
What if we, the bereaved, could share our wisdom and help those living to also honour the dead by honouring our life.
You have the time; we have the time, why not take it?
While living, have no regrets; say thank you to those that have helped you, sorry to those that you hurt and I love you to those you love.
Sometimes the smallest thing can change your life or someone else’s. If you were to die tomorrow what would you want the world to know about you? What would you wish you had done? How would you like to be remembered?
I love you, thank you and I’m sorry.
It’s never too late to say… I think saying it when you’re dead might be harder.