…and the road ahead.
I heard the shocking news last week; Randy, a long-time friend of mine had suffered a fatal heart attack. Grateful that a mutual friend remembered to notify me, I was able to attend the “life celebration” held in his honor.
As I listened to the sentimental stories people shared from the microphone, I couldn’t help but hear the other side of this, and how much his physical presence would be missed in the every day lives of others, especially, those closest to him.
Yes! I get it! This is supposed to be a “celebration” of his life. One person even said, “We’ve been feeling sorry for ourselves long enough. Now, we should be happy for the time we’ve had with him.” But just a few short days after his death, I imagine that those closest to him had not yet arrived at this very advanced step in the grief process. Instead, while Randy’s return home may have been a glorious occasion for him, now being able to golf for all eternity, it was still quite sad for those left behind, specifically his son, who so deeply depended on his father in this realm.
Death tends to dredge up conflicting feelings. If we believe our deceased loved ones have crossed-over into a good place, of course we are happy for them, especially if they are happy and peaceful, having been set free from the cares of this world. This is cause for joyous celebration! On the other hand, if we aren’t sure of their continued existence or state of well-being, this can be disheartening to us, and may only add to the experience of our loss and tremendous emotional pain that already exists for us with the absence of them in our every day lives.
Well-meaning people may say, “Stop feeling so sad, you will hold your loved one back from moving forward!” This is not only a painful thing to hear, it suggests that we should sacrifice our well-being by suppressing the grief of our loss. This also suggests that we are being selfish if we don’t just suddenly “snap out of it”, often creating more guilt and shame for us.
Personally, I find this over-simplified statement to be quite annoying. If someone is going to “up and die” on us, I think that we, as the bereaved, have the right to feel as sad as we feel, and for as long as we do.
To force yourself to move through the grief process any faster than is natural, is to cheat yourself out of proper healing. And besides, if our deceased loved one really is being held back a little, then that’s just part of it! In the grand scheme of eternity, it is only a infinitesimal drop in an infinite bucket. And, in the infinite perpetual NOW, “holding them back” is really only something thought and said by those who are still on Earth, experiencing time.
In the face of tragedy, and for those of us still left on the planet Earth, it takes time to sift through the many emotions that have now surfaced, particularly, since these emotions are now considerably amplified. These are not the “warm and fuzzy” emotions that we love to feel. No, these are the intensely painful emotions that we never want to feel. And now, with this tragedy, these unwanted emotions have been thrust upon us, making it difficult to escape their effects.
So now, you find you are a passenger on the inevitable ride known as the grief cycle. As all rides have a beginning, all rides end too. There will be many twists and turns along the way. There will be the highs and lows of the ups and downs. Some parts of the ride will move quickly, while other parts will go very slow. On this ride, you will be given the opportunity to experience the most intense emotions that life holds. To some, this intensity will extend an opportunity to face their worst fears. And, before the ride is finished, you may even be screaming to get off, but… as a word of caution… until the ride of this grief cycle ends, remember to stay seated and buckled into your process until the ride comes to a complete stop. You’ll be glad you did.
May you be blessed with strength and comfort in your time of grief!