Honoring The Death of a Loved One


“Death
is
indeed
a
fearful
piece
of
brutality;
there
is
no
sense
pretending
otherwise.
It
is
brutal
not
only
as
a
physical
event,
but
far
more
so
psychically:
a
human
being
is
torn
away
from
us,
and
what
remains
is
the
icy
stillness
of
death.
There
no
longer
exists
any
hope
of
a
relationship,
for
all
the
bridges
have
been
smashed
at
one
blow.” ~Carl
Jung

I’m
at
a
dinner
party
with
friends
when
I
begin
an
engaging
conversation
with
a
woman
I
haven’t
met
before.

Music
plays
softly
in
the
background
as
our
conversation
touches
on
many
different
topics.
She
begins
to
tell
me
about
a
difficult
situation
she
recently
faced
and
how
her
sister
supported
her
through
it.
I
listen
intently
while
she
gushes
about
how
lucky
she
is.

“Life
just
wouldn’t
be
the
same
if
I
didn’t
have
her,”
she
looks
at
me
and
smiles.

I
take
a
sip
of
my
red
wine,
her
words
piercing
my
heart.
There’s
a
silence
and
I
wonder
if
now
would
be
a
good
time
to
tell
her
that
I
too
have
a
sister.
But
instead,
I
gently
change
the
subject.

Often
we
never
know
what
emotional
wound
we’ve
reopened
in
others.
How
could
we?
The
cuts
and
bruises
of
our
own
psyche
are
concealed
so
well
behind
earnest
smiles
and
fake
laughs.
It
makes
me
wonder
how
often
I
accidentally
hurt
others
by
bringing
up
the
very
thing
they
are
trying
to
move
on
from.

This
particular
conversation
happens
to
come
in
October
when
my
heart
prepares
for
another
anniversary
of
my
sister’s
death.
Each
year
when
this
date
comes
around,
I
feel
compelled
to
commemorate
it
in
some
sort
of
grand,
meaningful
way.
But
I
struggle
to
think
of
anything
that
could
ever
be
enough.

Unfortunately,
the
comforting
sentiment
“time
heals
all
wounds”
doesn’t
really
apply
when
it
comes
to
grief.
At
least
not
for
me,
or
my
parents.
Together,
we
live
in
a
world
that
still
contains
my
sister.
We
re-live
memories
and
laugh
about
the
good
times
while
the
rest
of
the
world
seems
to
forget.
It’s
not
that
we
are
stuck
in
a
permanent
state
of
agony,
we’ve
just
learned
to
adjust.

I
suppose
the
parallel
could
be
like
the
adjustment
to
losing
a
limb.
No
matter
how
much
time
passes
you
will
always
remember
what
it
felt
like
to
run
and
jump
and
play,
and
how
you
can’t
do
that
anymore.
Some
days
you
might
particularly
sad
about
it,
other
days
it’s
a
bit
more
manageable.


It
seems
like
a
human
tendency
to
crave
simplicity
and
a
linear,
systematic
approach
to
grief.
The
infamous
Elisabeth
Kübler-Ross
model
has
been
widely
misunderstood
in
assuming
that
grief
passes
in
chronological
order.
But
anyone
who
has
experienced
it
knows
that
it’s
a
tangled
up
mess
that


slides
backward
and
forwards.

Especially
on
anniversaries.

Everything
about
the
time
of
year
when
the
person
we
loved
died
can
trigger
us.
It’s
that
familiar
smell
in
the
air,
the
change
of
seasons,
a
song
on
the
radio—and
in
an
instant,
we
are
back
to
the
day
when
we
found
out.
It
reawakens
the
shock
we
experienced
all
over
again.

The
mind
always
wants
a
quick
fix
to
move
on,
but
the
heart
will
never
forget.
So
we
tell
ourselves
that
we’re
fine,
everything
is
fine.
Meanwhile,
our
body
surges
with
depression,
guilt,
loneliness,
anxiety,
irritability,
anger,
as
well
as
physical
symptoms
from
sleeplessness,
unusual
dreams,
headaches,
lack
of
appetite,
difficulty
concentrating
or
an
increase
in
distressing
memories.

So,
what
do
we
do?

It’s
been
six
years
since
my
sister
died,
and
I’m
still
stunned
by
how
powerful
a
force
grief
can
be.
No
matter
how
fine
I
might
think
I
feel,
the
pain
of
loss
is
still
locked
inside
my
body
and
I
can’t
quite
find
the
keys
to
let
it
out.

I’ve
yet
to
find
something
that
brings
peace
and
connection
to
my
sister.
In
the
past
I’ve
tried
to
force
the
day
by
hurrying
it
along,
only
to
find
out
that
this
never
works.
I’m
now
attempting
to
lean
into
the
grief
to
truly
understand
it
so
that
one
day
I
can
work
in
bereavement
and
help
others.

Here
are
some
ideas
that
could
help.

Do
something
your
loved
one
liked
to
do.

My
sister
loved
many
things:
animals,
hiking,
traveling,
nature,
and
most
of
all,
art.
She
was
an
incredibly
talented
artist.
She
would
often
spend
hours
drawing,
painting,
or
collaging.

I’m
currently
studying
art
therapy
and
while
doing
a
collaging
exercise
in
class,
I
felt
this
strong
connection
to
my
sister.
After
about
thirty
minutes
the
teacher
told
us
it
break
for
lunch,
but
I
couldn’t
stop.
While
the
others
left,
I
carried
on
as
if
I
was
in
a
trance.
I
felt
so
connected
to
my
sister
that
it
just
about
brought
tears
to
my
eyes.

Create
a
physical
reminder.

When
someone
we
love
dies,
it’s
only
in
our
minds
or
in
our
dreams
where
we
can
visit
them.
Having
something
physical
that
you
can
see
can
be
healing.

You
could
plant
a
tree
in
their
honor.
Watching
the
tree
grow
over
the
years
allows
for
a
physical
reminder
of
them.
Or
you could
plant
flowers
(or
buy
them
if
you
aren’t
into
gardening)
and
create
your
own
beautiful
bouquet
for
your
eyes
to
enjoy
as
a
symbolic
reminder
of
the
transience
of
all
beings.
Flowers,
like
us,
are
only
here
for
a
short
time.
Remembering
that
could
help
us
to
accept
mortality
and
enjoy
the
time
we
have
while
we
are
alive.

Another
idea
could
be
to
plant
a
veggie
garden.
Every
moment
would
be
a
chance
to
connect
to
the
loved
one
and
once
the
garden
is
in
full
bloom,
ripe
with
delicious
vegetables,
a
meal
can
be
enjoyed
and
you
can
give
thanks
for
them
for
‘helping’
in
their
own
supernatural
way.

Write
a
letter.

Often
people
say
they
can’t
write
but
everyone
can.
It’s
just
the
same
reaction
as
handing
someone
a
paintbrush
and
them
saying,
“Oh,
no,
I
can’t
paint.”
Adults
tend
to
hide
behind
“can’t’s”
or
“not
good
at’s”
because
we
were
told
once
that
we
weren’t
good
at
it.

But
it’s
not
about
being
good
at
anything.
It’s
about
healing
your
heart.

A
lot
of
pain
from
loss
is
around
all
the
things
we
want
to
talk
about
and
all
the
things
that
the
person
we
love
is
missing
out
on.
A
friend
of
mine
once
said
that
she
has
continued
to
have
conversations
with
her
dad
who
died.
It’s
helped
her
immensely
to
talk
with
him
in
her
own
imaginary
way,
finding
guidance
on
issues
he
always
helped
her
with.

So
whether
you
talk
out
loud,
or
want
to
keep
it
a
letter
is
completely
up
to
you.
Either
way,
it
gives
you
a
chance
to
release
all
the
things
you
wanted
to
say.

If
the
thought
of
it
makes
you
feel
uncomfortable,
bring
it
up
with
your
counselor
and
they
will
develop
a
plan
that
works
for
you.

Set
aside
alone
time.

If
you
need
to,
take
the
day
off.
If
you
think,
“Ah,
I
can’t
do
that…”
then
let
me
ask
if
you
would
go
into
work
when
you
had
the
flu?
Hopefully,
the
answer
would
be
no.

Grief
is
similar
to
the
flu
but
instead
of
being
a
contagious
respiratory
illness,
it’s
a
pain
erupting
from
the
heart
and
soul.
Both
need
some
inner
tender
loving
care.
Respect
your
body,
respect
your
healing,
and
take
some
time
for
yourself.

Accept
the
sheer
power
of
grief.

Many
people
mistakenly
believe
that
grief
is
a
single
emotion.
In
actuality,
it’s
a
powerful
response
that
shakes
us
emotionally,
physically,
mentally,
and
spiritually.
It
is
a
natural
and
normal
process
that
all
human
beings
must
face
when
dealing
with
loss.

As
much
as
we
may
think
we
can
outsmart
it
by
ignoring
or
pushing
it
down,
it
will
always
find
other
ways
to
seep
through.

Accepting
these
raw
and
powerful
feelings
to
flow
through
your
body
can
be
unbelievably
painful.
I
sometimes
think
of
it
as
an
emotional
storm.
When
nature
breaks
down
in
a
thunderous
rage
with
bolts
of
lightning,
we
all
flee
undercover.
In
these
moments,
I
respect
nature’s
honest
and
vulnerable
display
of
despair
and
pain.
For
me,
it’s
a
reminder
that
we
are
all
like
nature,
we
all
experience
inner
hurricanes,
floods,
and
earthquakes.

No
matter
how
extreme,
they
always
pass.
But
we
need
to
get
out
of
the
way
and
allow
it
through.

Moving
Forward

No
matter
what
happens
to
us
in
life,
it
moves
on.
We
can
be
left
with
the
most
earth-shattering
anguish
and
still
find
that
the
sun
will
rise
for
a
new
day.
I
know
very
well
how
unbelievably
painful
it
can
be
to
see
the
world
carry
on
as
you
are
left
gasping
for
air.

We
all
walk
our
own
unique
paths
on
the
road
to
healing.
No
matter
how
much
time
has
passed,
our
loved
ones
will
always
remain
inside
our
hearts.

They
are
the
guiding
lights
that
keep
us
moving
forward,
and I
can’t
think
of
a
better
way
to
pay
tribute
to
those
we
loved
and
lost
than
to
fill
the
world
with
even
more
compassion
and
gentle
kindness.

About

Kimberly
Hetherington

Kimberly
Hetherington is
a
Canadian
writer
and
practicing Transpersonal
Art
Therapist based
in
Sydney,
Australia.
Her
website, Life
After
Elizabeth is
a
tribute
to
her
sister
who
died
in
the
fall
of
2013.
The
website
is
about
healing
after
loss,
self-discovery,
ending
the
stigma
of
mental
illness,
and
exploring
how
we
can
be
the
best
version
of
ourselves
we
can
be.

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