Surviving the Death of a Loved One

Humans have dealt with losing loved ones as long as humans have been on the Earth. There are many aspects to dealing with losing a loved one. The intensity of the relationship is perhaps the most important aspect of the impact of the loss of a loved one. In other words, if you lose your Mom or Dad, and you loved them deeply, it will be harder to deal with than if you lose a friend you’ve only known for a year.

But, the truth is, despite thousands of years of humans dealing with the death of a loved one, despite the study of the Grieving process, the truth is that for a person losing a dearly loved relative, it is all consuming, as if this is the only time such a thing has happened.

I’ve taken and passed the course on Death and Dying by
Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and I’ve found it useless to dealing with the loss of my Mother.

There are many aspects to dealing with the death of a close relative. For example, I look very much like my Mom, in fact, many people over the years commented on how much alike we looked, so, every time I look in the mirror to shave, I am reminded of Mom.
If you have their effects, like their clothes, there is a strong possibility that their scent still remains on their clothes.

The truth is, after years of losing pets we loved like human relatives, after losing a real dad and two step dads, one would think that one would get better at dealing with losing a loved one. Nothing could be further than the truth. In a physical wound, there is inflammation, pain, a time when the wound is very sensitive, but with time, a scar forms, the pain goes away, and you may forget you ever had the wound.

With the death of a loved one, a Father, Mother, Brother, Grandparent, etc., there is not full resolution. Sure, your mind TRIES to heal the wound, and time is perhaps the best balm to lessen the pain, but a very close loved one, is never truly forgotten, and under the right conditions, the pain of loss, can erupt full blast, as if it just happened, and this event, this flashback if you will, is not always something you can predict when it will happen. Sometimes, even an event that logically, should not cause you to re-experience the acute pain of that loss, does exactly that. You find yourself crying uncontrollably years later, due to some mundane event that logically should not have caused it.

And,we know that married couples who have been in a long term, loving relationship, when one of the pair dies, often, the other partner dies not long after the first one. Whatever you believe about biology, biochemistry, physiology, my believe is that when you have another person who you love greatly, a spouse, a child, a parent, whatever…someone in your nuclear family, a powerful bond is created, a bond that is not only psychological, but also physiological. I think this is a partial explanation for people who have been married a long time, and one partner dies, the other one dies not long afterward. I know some people will claim stress increases cortisol production which in turn has a suppressive effect on the immune system, thus opening one up to dangerous illnesses. I believe there is a far more complicated reason for the staggered death phenomenon. I believe that when two people become very close, and lose each other, to some degree, there is an entrainment of their bodily functions.

We know that females, housed together, can start synchronizing their menstrual cycle.
I believe that people who have a very close, loving relationship, perhaps engage in a more pervasive entrainment and synchronization of many biological processes.

And this, just looks at the physical aspect of life. TO many of us, there is also a spiritual aspect to life, and, certainly, if you believe in a spiritual side to life, if you love someone greatly, if they become an essential part of your existence, much like strings of a guitar can resonate with the same notes on a piano, I believe there may be a spiritual resonation that goes on between people who love each other.

So, the truth is, there is NO “manual” for coping or surviving the loss of a wife, husband, mother, father. You really have to try to “take it as it comes”. I suppose the hardest thing one has to overcome is really just facing the fact that they have died, at a very fundamental level. That does not mean that you abandon their memory, nor that you do not believe they are alive on “the other side”, it just means you face the fact that, at least, in THIS plane of existence, they have gone, and, if you believe in life after death, that they are waiting for you on the other side.

I cannot tell anyone how to handle the death of a loved one, because I myself am trying to deal with the loss of my Mom who died just a few days ago. I personally have reason to believe she survived physical death, and continues to live on the other side, but, that said, it is cold comfort when they are not here to talk to, to hug, to give presents to on their birthday.

Some people cannot continue living without a loved one, and opt for suicide. I understand this…I believe that if a person finds life without the loved one intolerable, ending their own life is understandable at several levels.]

Some folks say “focus on the good memories” , “remember the times you had together’, and while this may help, comfort some folks, it only makes me miss my Mom more.

So ultimately, there is no “magic formula”. I think, it’s like doing time in prison, the secret they say is you take it one day at a time, and do the best you can.

So, I suppose, that’s the closest thing to an answer I can give anyone, myself included…take it one day at a time and do the best that you can.

Thanks for reading this.


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