Death of a Loved One

There are few among us who have not been touched by serious illness, the death of a loved one or other tragic and traumatic events that happen in life. Both in our own lives and in the lives of those we love. Some have experienced multiple losses, trauma and tragedy. None of us can control the unforeseen things that happen in our outside world, We are truly powerless over these events as none of us are insolated. We can, however make choices on how we get through these challenges and over that we are powerful and do have control. How we get through these traumatic events depends on a number of factors and our ability to mobilize our inner resources. Attitude is everything!

I remember years back when a loved one was violently assaulted, she courageously expressed that she would not allow the person who did this to her to win by living her life in fear. I have never forgotten her determination. My dear friend lost her young child in a terrible accident. Her ability to live her life joyously and take in all the beauty in this world makes her an extraordinary example of how resilient we humans can be. I know that she loved her daughter tremendously and that there isn’t a day that goes by that she does not think of her, yet she has come to acceptance of “what is.” She is never going to like it, yet she does accept it. This acceptance is the only key to peace. This just like many things in life is never going to be a pretty reality, yet she cannot change it so she has found a way to make the most of the blessings she does have in her life. It did not happen instantly, yet she made a decision to accept her reality rather than to suffer in pain.

In the grief process, when a loved one dies we go through a process of grief and we actually go through stages of grief. Elizabeth Kubler Ross, a psychiatrist who worked with the dying taught us about the stages we all experience. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance. Each of us has our own unique process of how we navigate those stages. No two people will experience the same journey. I remember that a neighbor of mine who I enjoyed laughing with passed away unexpectedly. He went dancing one night, which was what he loved to do. He never returned home, having a heart attack and dying instantly. There is a period of shock and denial that we go through in the beginning stage of grief and loss. I knew that he was not returning and yet, I still looked for him at the elevator where he would joke with me. He would tease me about ordering so much bottled water and asking me if I had a swimming pool in my apartment Telling me that I used more water in a month than he used all year for his entire office. I would see someone who looked like him from behind and think it was him even though logically I knew that was impossible and that he was gone. Whether it be the loss of a loved one, physical or emotional illness, the grief process occurs with other types of loss as well. Loss of security, a lifelong dream, relationship or job.

When life deals us lemons, we have the choice to go through life suffering or we can find a way to make lemonade. Our attitude determines how we get through life. It can either be heaven on earth or the opposite. One of the things that most of us in life find beneficial is that we can choose to take the love and the lessons our loved one taught us and do something positive to honor their memory. Our society is rampant with examples of this. The sister of Susan G. Komen who died of breast cancer, started a foundation to raise money for cancer research. Many who lose loved ones though senseless violence set out to educate others on how to open their hearts to love. I remember reading an article about a man whose teenage son was murdered by other teens who were using substances at the time.

This man choose to work together with one of the boys to travel around to schools and speak to high school students telling their story in an attempt to save others from the pain they each experienced.

Rather than becoming bitter, there are many out there who devote themselves to promoting love and sparing other families from experiencing the heartache they did. Some work to assist those with mental disorders and all kinds of other fates. In my own life, I have certainly seen how helping another takes me out of myself and my own problems and gives me a way of feeling useful to assist others those who are also suffering. Gratitude and being of service to others has certainly demonstrated in my live the best way to overcome fear and suffering. Love is the quickest way to overcome fear. Accepting ourselves, acknowledging that we could have done better and did not. Making the corrections and loving ourselves unconditionally no matter what. In this way we become a humbled vessel for our creator’s love to be shared with others. Many years back, a very dear client of mine gave me an extraordinary prayer that had been given to her, the author was unknown. It’ message is profound! The essence is As God is loving me back to health, I then become a precious vessel for him with the ability to share with others my own recovery and healing. “Paying it forward” so to speak! As it says with it’s author unknown, “Once humbled and hurt- and then healed by God to be a healer! "



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