The loss of a close loved one, whether that be a beloved parent, a child, a sibling, spouse, friend or extended family member, is devastating. When unexpected and sudden, it is an enormous shock to our system. We may only feel the shock initially and all emotions go numb.
Loss requires grieving, and we go through the various stages of grieving. There are five main stages of the grieving process: denial and isolation; anger; bargaining; depression; and acceptance. To achieve a happier state of mind, we must allow ourselves to grieve the loss fully and go through these stages rather than deny, suppress or deflect our most painful emotions. It is healthier and necessary for our own well-being to allow ourselves to feel the pain and to move through it, step-by-step. It is a process, one which can take significant time to work through, dependent on the context and nature of the loss.
However, through our grief, we can view the loss of a loved one from an angle of gratitude and appreciation for all the wonderful and amazing gifts that person left behind and gave us through their life. We can honor those gifts and embrace them fully within our hearts, which can ease the pain and help us to experience moments, perhaps brief, moments of joy and happiness through our tears and pain. We can even laugh when reflecting upon a humorous memory of that loved one.
From a personal standpoint, I lost my dear sweet 31-year old cousin, Alise, twelve years ago to an undiagnosed brain tumor. It was sudden and unexpected and a huge shock. She was planning her wedding with my aunt at the time. She had only complained of having a headache that week and went to bed the night before saying to her mother, “I just want to sleep.” Those were her very last words. By the next morning, she had passed away.
At her funeral service, everyone spoke of her enthusiasm for life, her joy, her effervescent energy and joie de vivre. She was a real spark of life. My sister gave a reading about Alise’s lesson at a family reunion on how to give a proper hug. I had forgotten about this. It was such a joy to think back on her delightful personality and how she had taught us all the art of hugging. How precious!
During my grieving process, I embraced Alise’s enthusiasm for life and held onto it dearly. This helped me to feel better and eased the pain of the loss by a great amount. I held her in my heart and mind with full gratitude for all that she represented to me, and I wanted to carry her with me as a reminder at all times that life can be sweet, even when we’re down. She was not one to get down about life’s obstacles, or to let anything stand in her way.
To this day, I carry her precious qualities and life philosophy within my heart. Whenever I do feel low, I remind myself of Alise’s love for life, how life is so short and so very precious and that time cannot be wasted being unhappy. Alise was living proof of this very principle.
I have experienced several such losses, with friends and boyfriends. I know what it’s like to lose a loved one. But we can be happy after such devastation to our souls, our lives and our hearts. Gratitude, appreciation and deep love for that person can carry us through and forward. Even though they are gone in physical form, they are still very much with us at all times. We can appreciate the time that we did have with that person, and value and cherish that time. We can still be happy, despite the loss of a dear one, if we choose to be, and if we grieve and appreciate the person for all that they were to us.