I can remember when I was younger thinking people were strange when remembering those people that had died on the anniversary of that person's death and I used to think "why not forget about the day they died & rather focus on their birthday & celebrate the fact that the person lived?” Well over the past 5 years I've done both - some years I've felt fine about Dee's death & celebrated the fact that she'd lived & that she'd been my sister and then other years I've felt sad!
I’ve lost many people to death along the years – both sets of my grandparents, both of my in-laws as well as many other family members and friends, young and old. I grew up in a war zone in Zimbabwe (called Rhodesia then) in Africa and in those days we were constantly hearing about people dying, some we knew and some we didn’t. What we learnt is that death was part of life and that afterwards we had to pick ourselves up and get on with it!
When bereaved we go through a range of emotions which many experts call THE 5 STAGES OF GRIEF:
1. DENIAL (they couldn’t have died);
2. ANGER (I can’t believe they died and left me or why has God taken them away from me?);
3. BARGAINING (if only I had done this or that, they might not have died!);
4. DEPRESSION (what’s the use of carrying on, I can’t even try, especially without them?
5. ACCEPTANCE (I know they’ve gone and although I miss them, I can or have to move on without them!).
In reality these 5 stages of grief do not follow one after the other – some stages come before or after others and it’s helpful to know this!
People say that "time heals the heart" but the thing about bereavement is that you never know how you are going to feel from day to day or year to year and just when you think that you've moved on (Acceptance) suddenly an unexpected feeling or emotion pops up!
So what do we do when that happens? My advice from my own experiences and those of the many people I've worked with is to let your feelings be and go with the flow. In other words if you are feeling okay about it then feel okay and if you feel sad then be sad! Don't let the views, opinions or ideals of society or other people make you act or feel in a way that is not congruent to how you really feel.
Sometimes the feelings will come and go quickly and at other times they will linger. When they linger let them be but if they continue to linger on then that's when you should talk to someone. You can talk to family and friends but sometimes these people will not understand your feelings and they may pass judgement and criticism, either to you or behind your back about you, often to others.
What you usually need is someone to listen to you and to help you explore your feelings in a safe and non-judgemental way. A trained professional who has experience in bereavement, such as a bereavement counsellor, a psychologist or a healer, will help you to do this. This is usually a process that takes time but it will help you to move forward being able to more fully understand your feelings and emotions which will usually allow you to live your life feeling okay about your loved one’s death.
There are many other therapies that can help you to move on from grief and bereavement and the one that has helped me the most over the last 5 years is the use of Flower and Gem Essences, in particular the Australian Bush Flower essences. Another source of help was reading the book "On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief Through the Five Stages of Loss" by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross and David Kessler. It explained many things that helped me to understand death better especially soon after Dee had died.
We all have our own ways of remembering those who have died and if you are unsure about how to do this here are some ideas:
- Light a candle and let it burn safely for as long as you’d like – remember the person as a light in your life;
- Display a photograph of your beloved where you can see them regularly;
- Display fresh flowers, that remind you of your beloved, in a vase where you can easily see them;
- Play some music that reminds you of your beloved;
- Visit a place that your beloved enjoyed;
- Plant a bush, tree or flowering plant somewhere that you’ll be able to visit and tend to regularly;
- Create a memory box or book with items or photographs and words that remind you of the person;
- Write a story or passage about the person so those who didn’t know them will be able to read and learn more
about the person, especially for future generations. You could also do this on a video or voice recorder.
Whatever way you choose to remember your beloved person try to give thanks and gratitude that the person touched your life in the ways that they did.
I believe that all things happen for a reason and only time will allow us to fully realise what those reasons are. In the meantime we are still alive and need to keep our feet on the ground and live the best lives that we can - I am sure that this is what our deceased ones would like to see us doing.
Dee’s life was not an easy or happy one at times and it impacted hers and many other people’s lives along the way. I still have a great deal that I would like to write about her and our family so if you are interested in reading or learning more please pop back to my blog in the near future. Many thanks for taking the time to read my blog and best wishes to you and your loved ones, here or not. Xxx