How can I be happy after death
The grief as a black box
When it comes to grief, all the broken hearted people hide and have a lot to say, but they don't. And because nobody shows up openly, we don't know what grief is. Everyone who loses a loved one experiences something completely new and alien in a situation that is more painful than almost any other.
... that I would have liked to have known earlier. Because of these circumstances, there are some phenomena within grief that you then have to learn yourself in a very painful, cumbersome and incredibly confusing way. Had I personally known one or the other beforehand, I would at least have been able to classify situations and reactions. Therefore I would like to share a few things with you that struck me personally in my grief but also in conversations with mourners:
When someone dies, there is only one thing that matters: saying goodbye
I well remember calling the doctor on call and the undertaker in the middle of the night because, on the one hand, of course I wanted to do something and, on the other hand, I had the feeling that I had to sort it out - preferably quickly. That was nonsense. When someone dies, there is only one thing that matters: saying goodbye. Please take the time to do this that feels right. The deceased may stay at home between 24-48 hours, depending on the state. In hospitals it is of course different, but you should still be aware that here too you have a right to say goodbye. If in doubt, seek a conversation with the doctor and take the time you are entitled to with this person.
Everyone, everyone, feels remorse after death
I often compare the thoughts in grief to the carousel ride. You think about so much, everything turns, is out of order and sometimes you even feel sick. One emotion that was very present in my carousel is remorse. The first death that deeply affected me brought this feeling with it and it stayed for years. Over time, and finally with my training in grief counseling and the encounter with other mourners, it suddenly subsided because I recognized them everywhere. Everyone, really everyone, feels remorse after death. Some only with a brief thought, others for months or years and not infrequently the repentance lingers for a lifetime. In the meantime, I see it more as an uncomfortable, painful side effect: We all regret the same thing at the beginning: Not having had and used more time. So behind this is the desire for more time - of course! Of course we all wished for more time before death - no matter how much time we had. And this realization should mark the point at which we stop tormenting ourselves internally and “I would have” and “I would be” to put aside.
No matter how much space we give to dealing with our own grief - the longing and sadness will always return. Because everything we experience after the loss has a void. This person will be missing forever because we will still think of him with love in 5, 10 or 30 years. Personally, for example, I could cry every time I think of Christmas without my father. Celebrations and beautiful moments will always make us miss these people very strongly and consciously and it will feel strange because the longing and the happy moments exist at the same time. We will celebrate successes and birthdays, weddings and family reunions and we will find a beautiful way to take our deceased with us in hearts and minds. And we will be happy and love our lives, but many of our future milestones will just remain bittersweet.
You often hear, for example, of grief and its phases, which want to make it a little easier to understand what this world of emotions looks like. But such information and rigid processes could never reflect or explain my chaos of grief. However, I found something that at least prepared me a little for the future in mourning: Before one tends to feel better, it can get really nauseous again. So we should never assume that states of mind like “good” and “better” are followed by “super”, but maybe a “terrible” slips in between before we achieve something like “much better”. And I promise you: it will get better again. Much will change but happiness and joy will find their place in your heart again- right next to the memory of a wonderful person.
It is very common that our environment assumes that we have to cry almost continuously when we grieve. This is just as true as the fact that the grief process is over after a few weeks.
Just as individual as everyone's grief is, so are the valves and visible elements when we grieve. Not everyone cries a lot, but sometimes more so, others cry a lot and still others really hardly cry at all. All of this is completely normal. I looked for a valve for a long time and immediately thought that it might be better to be able to cry, but that was not the case.
Crying is not a must, but it may not help everyone.
Speaking of crying as an outlet - there are very many and different ways to vent your grief or to deal with it more intensively. We know the things that help us with problems in everyday life: e.g. a phone call with a good friend, regular exercise or long walks in the forest. Sometimes these “old” resources can also do us very well in grief or we can find new, creative ways. So far I have always worked with creative means in bereavement counseling and you often feel very quickly whether you are enthusiastic about writing, drawing or a type of work. It is important not to act out of artistic aspirations, but to find a medium that expresses our own grief and makes us a little easier. I wrote poetry until I was 14 years old and have only done so again since my father died. It is a real gift that my heart can express itself through.
It's just worth trying out everything!
After a loss, we will quickly feel that the future is difficult to imagine without this person. If we have come to terms with it at some point, it is very possible that new acquaintances make us sad because they have nothing to do with our old life or the deceased person. However, it is important to meet this phenomenon with love and understanding. We should all not close ourselves off, but learn much more to take our deceased into our future and also give new people the chance to get to know them through stories and stories.
And for the path that you still have ahead of you, a little quote that reflects very well what I wanted to tell you in this article:
“The more beautiful and full the memory, the harder the separation is. But gratitude turns the agony of memory into silent joy. You don't carry the past beautiful like a sting, but like a precious gift. "
- Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Grief counselor & editor at Emmora
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