Grief – how to find peace

Life is an achievement – Death is part of that achievement ~ Mother Theresa

Grief is the complete and total polar opposite of contentment, peace, and happiness.  If you have lost someone you love dearly, your entire universe gets shifted.  You can’t wrap your head around why everyone is living life as usual when you feel like you’ve stepped into the Twilight Zone.  EVERYTHING about your life has changed.  You now have to live in a world where your loved one doesn’t exist.  How on earth are you going to do that?

In the beginning stages of grief, you are actually in crisis mode.  Your body will  probably dump an enormous amount of adrenaline into your system.  You probably feel anxious and scared and you can’t even concentrate enough to make good decisions.  Sleep is out of the question.  Eventually the initial shock wears off and you’re left numb and alone.  You feel like you don’t get a say in anything.  You don’t get a choice in their death.  You don’t get a choice in living without them.  You don’t get a choice in all the responsibilities that are now on your shoulders.  You don’t get a choice in anything.  It’s all forced upon you.  Well, I’m giving you a choice.  You don’t get to choose what happens to you or how it happens, but you do get a choice in how you react to it.  You get to choose how you fight it.  You get to choose how you survive this.  You can fight the sadness and anger and emptiness.  You can break off tiny pieces of hurt and replace it with tiny pieces of peace.  Having a tiny piece of hurt gone isn’t really going to make a big difference in your life.  But, over time as you keep breaking off little pieces, they turn into big chunks.  Then one day you wake up and you don’t feel so bad.  You’re actually smiling.  That’s the goal – to return to some semblance of peace and contentment.  The happiness may take a little longer, but it will come too.  You can do this.  You have the strength and the courage to do it.  It just takes patience, practice, and time.  Would you find contentment and peace without practicing these steps?  Sure you would.  But it will take longer.  And who wants to feel miserable one second longer than they have to?  Not me.

I think that one way to fight grief is to talk about death.  Jeepers Creepers is that hard.  Nobody wants to talk about it.  If death is an achievement, why do we fear it so much?  It’s actually a taboo topic. People will literally cut you off when you try to talk about death.  It just scares them to death (pun intended).  It’s almost like if we talk about death it will happen and if we don’t talk about it, it won’t.  That’s logical.  Right?  News flash….. it’s coming for all of us, so why not talk about it?

This cycle of life has been going on since the beginning of time.  We tend to think that things start and end with us.  They don’t.  People have been giving birth since the beginning of time.  We love talking about birth.  We celebrate it!  We have parties for it.  People have also been dying since the beginning of time.  We don’t talk about that.  We certainly don’t have a party for it.  It’s not a happy time.  It’s not to be discussed.

I think there are probably lots of reasons we don’t talk about it.  It’s incredibly sad, it can be an awkward conversation, we don’t want to hurt people, and we’re afraid of the unknown.  Not to mention if you’ve experienced a death, it’s a devastating event that turns your entire universe upside down.  You can barely breathe, much less talk.  It’s one of the few emotional experiences that actually makes us physically hurt.  You hurt down in the pit of your stomach.  It sure doesn’t feel like an achievement.  It just feels like a devastating loss that leaves us empty and scared.  But, I think (and research supports the idea) that if we talk about death, it will take some of the sting out of it.  It won’t be as scary.  It will take some of that sadness and break it up.  And when the sadness gets broken up, it’s replaced by contentment.  You’ll still be sad, but you’ll be more content.  You won’t feel as lost.

Why is death so scary?  Lots of reasons.  It means that someone is leaving us and that leaves us completely off kilter.  We’re used to them being with us.  We built our entire lives around the idea of them being with us.  We love them and don’t want to live a life without them in it.  But, I think death is also scary because we know it’s going to happen to us and there are about a million unknowns with that.  When will it happen?  How will it happen?  Will it hurt?  What happens after?  Lots of questions, few answers.  It’s life’s biggest mystery.

I think to try and explain death, you have to start with explaining birth.  Where does life come from?  That’s a very personal question for everyone and there’s no proof that can be given that will satisfy everyone.  So, I’m just going with what I believe.  I believe that life comes from God.  It’s a gift that is bestowed upon us and it has a shelf life.  I don’t have much beyond that.  I don’t know if souls “decide” to travel this life together as friends and family.  I don’t know if we come back to experience life again and learn more lessons with each life.  I don’t know what the after-life is like.  I don’t know if spirits are around us, guiding us.  I do know that God always lets us choose things and I wouldn’t be surprised if He let us choose our earthly life.  Have you ever met someone and it was as if you had known them your entire life?  Maybe you have.  Maybe your souls knew each other before you did.  I just don’t know.  I’m getting off track here.  Back to life and death.

So, if God gave us life and that’s how we started this journey, what happens when our life ends?  Does God just say “Sucks to be you.  Guess you’re done now.”  I don’t think so.  I believe that when we die, we return to where we started.  Our soul returns to God.  Ok.  So we are returning to God.  That must be the achievement Mother Theresa was talking about.  That has to be good.  Right?  Going back to God, must be a good thing.  I mean, God is perfect love.  Going to perfect love has to be a good thing.  So, why are we so sad?  Because we are left behind.  Because while our loved ones are going to be with perfect love, we are left with a less than perfect life and now we’re facing it alone.  Well, that explains why we’re sad, but why are we scared of death if it’s such a wonderful experience?

Now we’re back to all those unknowns, like what will happen.  Will it be scary?  Doing something new is always scary.  And we can’t pay someone to do it for us.  It’s a journey we have to take ourselves.  Nobody can do it for us.  You have to blow your own nose, you have to sleep your own sleep and you have to die your own death.  But I firmly believe that we don’t have to do it alone.  Now, I sure can’t prove any of this.  It’s just my beliefs.  I’m going to take a chance on sounding like a nut job here and I’m going to say that while you have to die your own death, you don’t have to do it alone.  I think that your loved ones who passed before you will be there to help you in the end.  I don’t believe that an all-loving and perfect God will let us go to Him alone and scared.  Just my belief.  I don’t think we die into emptiness, I think we die into fullness.  There have been too many cases of deathbed visions to discount them as untrue.  There have been thousands of documented cases of people in the final stages of dying, seeing and talking to loved ones who have passed.  You could say they’re hallucinating.  When people hallucinate, whether because of drugs or mental illness, they’ll tell you that the hallucination lasted for days or weeks, when in fact it may have only lasted 20 minutes.  When a person has a deathbed vision that lasts 3 minutes, they’ll tell you it lasted 3 minutes.  They are completely aware of the people and events going on around them.  Death bed “visits” are extremely common.  You probably know someone who had one before they died.  I think that our loved ones who pass before us are there to help us when it’s our turn.  Do you really believe that an all perfect and loving God would allow the journey to Him to be scary?  I don’t.  There will be people guiding us and we won’t be alone.  We won’t be scared.

Another reason I think people are scared to talk about death is the fear that it will hurt.  Well, it might.  And it might not.  There are women who seem to have no pain with birth.  They just push a little and poof, they have a baby.  Just that simple.  There are women who push a little more.  It takes a little longer and they sure have pain.  And then poof.  They have a baby.  Then there are the women who struggle for hours enduring nearly unbearable pain.  They probably even feel like they’re dying.  And then poof.  They have a baby.  That’s birth.  It’s the same with death.  Some people just go to sleep and don’t wake up.  They just die quietly and peacefully.  Some people have pain and it takes some time and then they die.  Some people struggle for days, weeks, months, with nearly unbearable pain and then they die.  That’s death.  Women willingly and joyfully accept the struggles and pain of delivery because the reward of a baby is worth it.  Can you see where I’m going here?   Why don’t we willingly and joyfully accept the struggles and pain of death when we know the reward is so worth it?  I just don’t know.  Maybe we doubt ourselves and our faith.   Maybe it’s not knowing how much pain there will be and if we can stand it.  Maybe it’s being afraid to face it alone.  I just don’t know.  What I do know is we have to talk about it.  We have to face it.  We have to embrace it and love it and know that the reward will soooo be worth it.

There’s no right or wrong way to get through grief.  You just do the best you can.  But, sometimes people get stuck and they just can’t seem to move on.  If that happens, you might want to consider seeing a therapist.  They can help you to get unstuck.  Sometimes the level of sadness scares people.  They’ll say “It’s been 6 months and I’m still sad.”  Well of course you’re sad.  It’s ok to be sad.  For some reason in this society we think it’s wrong to be sad.  It’s not.  It’s ok.  Just tell yourself “I’m sad and that’s ok because I’m working to bring peace to my life”.

I sure hope this helps you some.  Grief is horrible.  No way around it.  You can’t slip under it or over it.  You just have to go through it.  Of course that’s like saying “Fire burns, but you just have to walk through it”.  Much easier said than done.  But as long as you keep moving forward, you WILL get through it.

How do we do all that?  Using the steps to happiness of course!  Use the drop down boxes under the grief tab to explore how to use each of the steps to bring peace back to your life after a death.

Let me know what you think about this or if you have any questions.  I would love to hear from you!

I wish you much peace,

Molly