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There is an unavoidable truth about life — everyone dies. It’s painful, this truth, and we can ignore it and avoid it until we are faced with it. Eventually someone we love is going to transition through life into death and we will have to face the reality of our lives without them in it.
When someone we love dies we grieve them — we’re angry and confused, we make bargains with our God, we get depressed, we might think we can’t possibly go on, but here’s another truth — we have to. We have to learn new ways of being in life while they aren’t and do our very best to make sense of the transition period.
If you are very close to the person who passed away it is going to be a big adjustment and it’s going to hurt. You are no longer available to call them when something wonderful happens in your life. They won’t be at family gatherings anymore, being the life of the party that everyone loved. They are “gone” but you will look for them everywhere, and sometimes you might catch glimpses of them.
If you are struggling with the loss of a loved one, you will never truly “get over it” — you will have to learn to get through it and live with it, but loss isn’t something you can just leave behind, or worse, bury deep and forget.
There is no destination of “over it” and there is not one path to quickly and neatly deal with grief. It’s a journey, with twists and turns, a lot like life, but there is another truth hiding — when our loved ones die, they truly don’t want us to spend our lives suffering for it. They want you to go on, to live a full and beautiful life, and to remember them fondly.
Think about the good memories you have shared with them. Tell stories to your kids or other family members to keep their memories alive.
Ensure that you take the time to grieve. Some people try to put up a wall, pretending they aren’t affected by the absence of their loved ones. That’s a mistake, and the grief will build up within you. Acknowledge your loss, accommodate it in your life, and allow it, you will be a healthier person for it.
If it makes you feel better to look for signs from them that they are okay, do it. If their favorite bird visits you, a rainbow appears, or a song that reminds you of them comes on just when you want to feel them again, it’s normal to take it as a sign from them. Take the fact that you know they don’t want you to be in pain forever and let the world guide you in that knowledge.
Use birthdays, anniversaries, and other special days to remember them and to look for them around you. If you shared these days with them, there may be opportunities to feel them more profoundly than other days.
It’s natural to feel sad and lonely. It’s also natural to ponder about your own mortality, especially when the person who is gone is a parent. After all, if you are only 25 years younger than your parent, and you project that your parent lived the average life of people in your family, then it doesn’t take much to feel that your time has become somewhat limited.
That isn’t new information, everyone is intellectually aware that the time in this world is limited, but it’s different when you feel it in your heart. Losing someone you love forces you to put things in perspective, but that can be its own gift. Knowing that you have a finite number of days, you can use them to live the best life you can dream. The good news is they often make significant medical discoveries about every 50 years, extending life expectancy, so that fits right in the time frame.
While you never get over when someone you love dies, you do know the sun will rise and set every day, your life will go on. Continue to be great parents to your kids and spend as much time with the people who are still here. Those times will be the ones that you cherish the most. And when your time finally does come, you will know that you did the best you could, and you will want others to continue on their journeys.
Wherever you are in your journey of loss, reach out to professionals to help you deal with the often overwhelming feelings that death brings. Although we can’t escape having to deal with it, there are healthy ways of doing so that can actually bring us more peace in the long term. There are professionals who can help you make sense of the transition between life and death, contact one and you may find answers as well as comfort.