Death is part of life. People will die throughout our lives. Sometimes that will be people who we are very close to, such as a partner, parent, child or the beloved animal you took care of. At times we can also be affected by the deaths of others who we might not have known so well.
In some cases, you might have expected the death because someone was ill and maybe even the death was merciful because they had been suffering with a poor quality of life.
There are times, however, when a death comes suddenly from an accident, disease or some kind of trauma, and different deaths can affect you in different ways.
As human beings we have emotions and emotional attachments, sometimes far out of our conscious awareness. A death may bring those emotions into play even when we least expect it.
You may find yourself sad and crying when it might be out of character for you. In fact there may be times when you feel overwhelmed by grief, panicking and not really understanding what is happening to you.
Allow yourself to experience those emotions as they are quite a natural, healthy part of the grieving process.
A happy, loving person is meant to grieve when death occurs. Even if you did not get on with the person, you may still feel grief when they die.
Also, death brings up memories and emotions around your relationship with the deceased, some of which may be good and some might be not so good.
If you suppress grief, it will stop you moving on with your life and being happy, so let it happen naturally.
Dr Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, a Swiss-American psychiatrist, created a model based on what she identified as the five stages grief:
- Denial – a stage of disbelief that the death has happened.
- Anger – that the one you loved or cared for in some way has been taken from you.
- Bargaining – trying to reason some deal that you could have more time with the person who has died.
- Depression – a sense of deep sadness about the death.
- Acceptance – a time of resolution, of letting go of the past and moving on with your life.
You may go through all the stages of grief sequentially or in a different order. The intensity of each stage or tasks of getting through each stage may differ with each death or individual. This can be influenced by your state of mind, circumstances or the culture in which you live.
Sharing and talking is one of the greatest ways to process your bereavement which is why families and friends come together at times like this to console each other and to share good experiences of the deceased.
It is a time of ceremony where something ends, making way for new beginnings for those left behind. If you do not have friends for family with whom you can talk, seek help from your priest, rabbi, mullah or mental health professional.
The chance of life is a gift to be lived and enjoyed. It is beautiful gift when you make it so.
Be sure you do not stay in grief longer than is appropriate because you are the one who has that gift, so it is important to honor it.
Rather than staying in sack cloth, ashes and mourning for too long, try to celebrate with joy the life of the one who has passed away.
And remember, there is great wisdom in the saying: “Time is a great healer”.