When someone dies, we are left with the overwhelming pain that their physical absence has left in our lives. Often, the typical way of coping or supporting people with this pain is to develop ways to find closure, move on, or let go.
But for many of us, we don’t want to let go. This person was in our lives for a reason. We loved them. We continue to love them. They fill our thoughts, whether we want them to or not. As time passes, we often try to suppress this person from our attention and our daily lives; imagining it is unhealthy or abnormal to dwell on them.
But what if we didn’t have to let go?
Although the pain of loss can be excruciating, it does not have to be the only experience after death.
“Death is an end of a life, not a relationship” (Morrie Schwarz)
As we go through the difficult process of grieving, I encourage people explore the ways their relationship with their loved one can continue.
When someone we love moves away, we miss them but we keep them close to us in our hearts. We may think of stories to tell them, ask for advice, imagine what they might say if they were here with us. We work to nurture our relationship with them through the means we have available, be it internet, letters or telephone.
Perhaps nurturing your relationship with the one who has died, through the means available such as stories, rituals, sharing and connecting consciously with that person, enables them to continue to be within you and keeps them alive in your heart.
Nothing can erase the pain of loss. With clients I explore what it means to grieve the death of a loved one but also what it means to keep a relationship with that loved one alive. We talk together to discover ways we can and already do maintain our loved ones close and how messages from society about "moving on" are not always helpful as we grieve. We explore the joy and comfort that can be found through keeping a loved one close instead of having to say good-bye while acknowledging the pain that comes when a loved one dies.