How does one heal after death of a loved one? How can you handle, deal with, come to terms with, go on living in the face of such anguish?
I don’t know. No matter how prepared you are the actual death comes as a shock; a shock so deep it shakes you to your very core. And it won’t go away.
Even when you know your loved one is going to die, the finality of it is inconceivable. It’s impossible to wrap your brain around the horrifying loss that death brings. The cruel reality being you will never see him or her again.
Life is our focus in the day-to-day world
If we’re lucky we enjoy our work, our relationships, our leisure time, and don’t give our health more than a passing thought. However, when the health of somebody we love is threatened, our everyday world turns upside down and our attention shifts to preserving that life at all costs.
Even though you know they will never get better, only worse as time goes on until they succumb to their illness – you don’t give up.
How can you?
We know how to live; we don’t know how to die.
And when our loved one passes away, the excruciating pain and overwhelming loss inflict a wound so deep that horror is our reaction and numbness our instinctive way to cope with it.
How to change our thinking from pain to hope?
How to turn away from that deep pit of despair, that swamp of heavy emptiness long enough to take a breath? Why shatter the illusion that they are still alive somewhere either back in hospital or on a long unplanned trip? (You can see how strong and protective the role of denial plays in the grieving/healing process.)
How can one ever transform those stark feelings of terror and betrayal into hope, courage, and peace of mind?
Slowly. Gradually. Increment by increment, degree by degree until the focus shifts ever so slightly away from profound and excruciating loss.
Away from heartache and tears.
Never mind for the moment just where you are going.
Focus on the moving part, the steps. And as you take this first baby step, leave behind the guilt. Leave behind those feelings of abandonment that churn around in the pit of your stomach. Those awful feelings as if you’ve just stepped into a lifeboat, safe and snug, while leaving your loved one behind to drown.
While leaving him or her to go down with the sinking ship.
Let go of betrayal. No one has betrayed you. We are not in control of Life and Death.
And since we are now moving, we have to go somewhere. Our road has changed, the old path gone, like the one that was swept away by the “broomdog” in Alice in Wonderland.
Where do we go?
Just for an instant, we take our focus off that deep wound Death has inflicted to look ahead, to search for a new road. And in that instant the bleeding slows and light begins to seep into our consciousness. As we reach for that glimmer of Light and hang on tight, the terrible darkness recedes and a soothing ray of hope streams in, encouraging us to surrender and begin to walk the Path of Acceptance.