Grief and Loss

A sudden loss is like being ran over by a Mack truck. You are left shocked, paralyzed, and dead in your own tracks. It can lead to disorientation, disbelief, anxiety, outrage, and tremendous sadness. When you learn to stay with the resulting emotions, over time a new reality can slowly emerge.

Some endings are marked by celebrations and happy congratulations while others are met with sad departures and disappearances. Mark endings regardless of their circumstances with symbols of remembrances, memorials, services, or celebrations. It helps to carry you forward into the future while retaining the value of what ended.

I lost two very special people in my life within a one month time span. It is coming up to the first year anniversary of their abrupt death. Thus I am reminiscing of the events that took place over this past year. During this time, I maintained many rituals that have helped heal my heart and maintain their existence to my soul. The established pattern of observances helped to ward-off total devastation with their loss.

Cherish Past Communication:dove

I reflected upon old times when our communication was expressed with warmth, nurture, and support. I recollected on their values and character.

I saved all forms of correspondence including voice messages, text messages, and emails. I reflected back on their words numerous times to reminisce and allow myself to cry and bask in my love for them.

On a daily basis, I wrote about shared experiences. I wrote about the lessons I learned from their presence and admired morals that I aspire to become.

I bridged the gap between past communication to the present by reaching out to them and asking for their guidance and wisdom. I brought their feelings to life by handwriting my experiences as thoughts of them came to mind. I developed a new relationship with them as I opened my mind to a spiritual realm of connection to the present. My connection served its way through symbolic forms while I encountered pairs of animals, plants, and rainbows.

Connected with Nature:

I hiked the same nature trail weekly and sought signs of their existence. I watched for birds since they were pilots and loved to fly. Given that they were identical twin brothers, I became more conscious of things in pairs as I walked up and down the trails. I saw two branches that stood out from the rest of the vegetation, two birds flying together, or even one large majestic bird gliding high in the sky. I followed their direction of flight with my eyes and heart until I could no longer see their existence.

On one of my walks, a rattle snake crossed my path. It was the first of such a sighting upon my many brisk strolls along the gravel pathway up the mountain. I took the sighting as a symbol of new beginnings and rebirth and of course turned around and walked the other way. While on another hike, I walked to a secluded area on the top of the mountain and arranged a memorial of similar sized rocks in the impression of their names.

Upon another nature outing, I walked along the shoreline and again looked for birds flying in pairs. On a couple of strolls, I saw imprinted in the sand, “I love you” or “I miss you” and I believed it to be a message from them. Whether it is true or not, it comforted me to think that they found clever ways to communicate with me.

One day while walking along the shore, a playful sea lion surfed the waves in and then back out. He continued his surfing in the same direction I was walking until we came upon the end where the rocks block the channel. I instantaneously thought it was Alex who wanted to learn to surf. I believed he found his way.

Another encounter of nature happened while I sat in my office with a client. And out of the corner of my eye, I saw a double rainbow. It was such a long time since I had seen a double rainbow. I immediately knew they were communicating to me their new found relationship and continuance in my life. With the height of the building’s window, I could see the beginning and ends of each rainbow. They were beautiful and glorious to see. My client and I stopped in mid-session to stand up and peak out the window. At that moment I knew one was looking down protecting and guiding me from the sky and the reflection was caring for me from beneath the earth. I was surrounded in a protective bubble by the wisdom, strength, and courage of two fellows whose lives were to serve, protect and honor.

Shared Continuity:

I reached out to an old professor who has a PhD in Thanatology. She listened openly and with understanding. Due to her professional background working in a hospice and personal communication with the deceased, she provided a unique perspective and insight that enlightened and opened my own spiritual pathway. Our long talks and emails comforted me in my confusion, sorrow, and feelings of abandonment.

I increased weekly therapy sessions from one to two meetings a week for several months. The added support and safe outlet to express my sorrow was met with compassion and empathy. I cried openly knowing my tears were presented in front of a comforting and accepting soul. My experiences were validated and normalized which is extremely important in the healing and grieving process.

I remained in contact with family members of the deceased to have continuity and continued connection knowing we have a common bond and love.

Permitted Unrestrained Emotions:

I let go of anger by taking a boxing class. I punched sparing pads as hard and as fast as I could. I vigorously struck left to right as the poor girl holding the pads braced herself from my rage. I continued to beat the bags until I fell limp with exhaustion. Afterward I felt relief and lighter as the weight of my anger was let go.

I often had cyclical bouts of anger, sorrow, and appreciation for their existence in my life. As I deeply missed their living body and nurturing voices near me, I bargained to have their return to what I once knew of them and to take another instead. I felt horrible in the thought but eventually understood the thought process and was compassionate to myself. I allowed myself to cry profusely on many occasions. I endured and accepted my tears to freely and forcedly flow without judgment or ridicule.

It has been a difficult journey grieving their loss. I am reminded of their departure every day but my pain has lessened over time. I have accepted they are no longer here as I once knew them to be. Yet I remain grateful for the short time we shared and their new found presence in my life. Their death prompted the fact, we are all here temporarily. I am reminded to live my life fully, gratefully, and with compassion. I am encouraged to nurture relationships and maintain close bonds. I let people know I care, treat them with kindness, and with an open heart. I have now embraced that every ending marks a new beginning.

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