In our hearts, we all know that death is a part of life. In fact, death gives meaning to our existence because it reminds us how precious life is. The loss of a loved one is life’s most stressful event and can cause a major emotional crisis. After the death of someone you love, you experience bereavement, which literally means “to be deprived by death.”
In the Bhagavad Geetha it is said, “As a man discards his old clothes and puts on new ones, so does the soul discard this physical body and take on a new body.”
When a death takes place, you may experience a wide range of emotions, even when the death is expected. Many people feel an initial stage of numbness after first learning of a death, but there is no real order to the grieving process.
When I lost my father, I was ten. I experienced a feeling of denial, confusion, sadness, shock and anger. When my mother passed away a decade later, I experienced a feeling of disbelief, yearning, despair and guilt. It took me a lot of time to fully absorb the impact of my mother’s death. Although I never stopped missing my parents, the pain eased after time and allowed me to go on with my life.
It is not easy to cope after a loved one dies. You will mourn and grieve. Mourning is the natural process you go through to accept a major loss. Mourning may include religious traditions honouring the dead or gathering with friends and family to share your loss. Mourning is personal and may last months or years.
Grieving is the outward expression of your loss. Your grief is likely to be expressed physically, emotionally, and psychologically. For instance, crying is a physical expression, while depression is a psychological expression.
It is very important to allow yourself to express these feelings. Often, death is a subject that is avoided, ignored or denied. At first it may seem helpful to separate yourself from the pain, but you cannot avoid grieving forever. Someday those feelings will need to be resolved or they may cause physical or emotional illness.
Bereavement is a powerful, life-changing experience that most people find overwhelming the first time. Although grief is a natural process of human life, most of us are not inherently able to manage it alone. At the same time, others are often unable to provide aid or insight because of discomfort with the situation and the desire to avoid making things worse.
Tears and anger are an important part of the healing process. Grief is not a sign of weakness. It is the result of a strong relationship and deserves the honour of strong emotion. When supporting someone in their grief the most important thing is to simply listen. Grief is a very confusing process, expressions of logic are lost on the griever. It is important to assist your friend down the path of healing. They will find their own way down that path, but they need a helping hand, an assurance that they are not entirely alone on their journey. The smallest good deed is better than the grandest good intention.
[My friend lost her father yesterday. May the departed soul rest in peace and may the family find strength and courage to cope with this grave tragedy.]