Having been in counseling for over a quarter of a century and dealing with grief, loss, and death on many occasions, I know that nothing can take away all the sorrow and sadness. Both my parents and several family members are deceased. My wife, a former hospice counselor and I have talked often about the impact of death on a person. We have processed the range of emotional swings that often include anger, guilt, sadness, confusion, loneliness, relief, embarrassment, fear and many others. We have also discussed the confusing behaviors and thoughts the person experiences ranging from aimlessness, preoccupation, panic waves, sensing the deceased love one’s presence, social withdrawal, and frequent crying spells, just to mention a few.
Even in our training we have heard the expression a person just has to “work through it”, not having a clue what that really means. Does it mean one day they wake up and it doesn’t hurt any more? Or one day they just are “over it”? No I think the more correct idea is that a person has to learn to “integrate” the loss into their life. This can take quite a long time and is a gradual process that is not marked by clear milestones. However using the memory tool “DIF” may be of help. Over time you sense these waves of emotion have a shorter Duration, have less Intensity, and occur less Frequently, . This indicates, over time, not any specific day or moment, that healing is taking place.
Keep in mind that your hope is to see your loved one again. Also keep in mind that they are in a better place now than when they were here (i.e. not suffering any more) and if they could speak to you they would likely want you to go on with your life.
Learn from the loss the brevity of life and love those you still have time with, with more frequency, longer duration, and more intensely.
(One word of caution: Timing is very important in grief. Be sure you feel the person is ready to receive this card before you give it to them. Given too early the person may think you are minimizing their grief or dishonoring their loved one. Also be sensitive to the person’s spiritual beliefs concerning the hereafter.)
Use this card to…
- Encourage the grieving person to have hope to see their loved one again
- Motivate the grieving person to continue on with their life
- Deepen a person’s faith
- Remind the grieving person their loved one is no longer suffering