GRIEF RELIEF
 Sorry for your loss.”  This is a fairly standard response when we hear of a loved one’s passing.  Maybe we should rethink that. A woman we’ll call Betty for example, assisted her 97 year old dad through the 10 years of dementia.  The vibrant father of six children, happily married for sixty years and an Iwo Jima survivor, quietly faced his dying time. Was Betty sorry for her loss as she watched him slip away to his “happy place?”  No. Though she loved him deeply, she felt relief and gratitude.

Betty felt proud of her caregiving and of her father’s courage.  She was left  with many rich moments to ponder.  She said there was an otherworldly feeling in his last days.  It was more like watching a graduation.  Perhaps congratulations were in order for both.

Not all passings play out that way.  Some are abrupt and unexpected.  Others seem like they happened all too soon.  Some souls leave with much unfinished business or unspoken words left behind.  What might we say to the remaining loved ones then?  “Sorry about your loss”?  Hmmm…maybe it would be more helpful to say something like, “That’s a big transition for him/her and you.  How are you doing with this?”  Or “I’d love to hear stories about his/her life…”  Then listen and love.

Grief is fragile and very different for each individual.  It can actually become creative, even beautiful, if we look at more than loss.  Here at TC IANDS, we recognize that the death of loved ones can open us in new ways.  We might recognize “hellos from heaven” or special God moments.  This can bring momentary comfort and reassure us that all lives live on.  We can still feel loved and appreciated, even when someone special has parted.  If someone we didn’t get along with dies; they may now see us from a bigger perspective.  That can be comforting.

What about unfinished issues?  Try sitting bravely with the heaviness for a brief time;  then address concerns by moving forward the way you think they might be resolved.  Perhaps you’ll want to write your deceased loved one a letter about what troubles you.  But don’t stop there. After that, write another  as if your loved one is answering you.  Just let whatever flows come out.  It can be a healing experience.  Maybe you’ll want to stay in touch that way…

Some waves of heaviness will still hit, but rather than become “stuck” or overwhelmed, notice whatever is the specific trigger.  Then let an idea come to mind that suggests you to do something creative.  Plant a garden.  Take a walk.  Dance.  Call a mutual friend.  Hug a pet. This can bring relief and even new insights.   

Realistically, we need to be aware that although healthy actions and distractions may be helpful and life giving; it might still take months to truly grasp that the loved one is not coming back.  Be patient. In time, you will come to know your special individual in new and deeper ways.

May you find goodness in this month of March.  Flowers and rainbows are just around the corner.  Before you know it, Thurston County IANDS will meet in in person, again, at the Lacey Library.  So mark your calendars for April 11th, from 1:00 to 4:00 (Feel free to com
and go as your schedule allows.)  More information will be forthcoming in APRIL’s TC IANDS Newsletter.  There will be an uplifting Near Death Experience story shared, with plenty of time for questions and discussion. Bring a friend.  We hope to see you there!