Archive for August, 2015

Why does death shock us?

Beautiful Death - Terry Fan

Beautiful Death – Terry Fan

I’ve been pondering this question today because someone I know just found out that his friend had died and his reaction was one of deep shock, then extreme sadness. He was shocked that this man, that had had a huge influence on his life, had died from a short illness and was already buried. Many of us probably agree that this is indeed a shocking thing, but why?

Given that the truth is we will all die, most of us have no idea how or when but we all know that we will die one day. In fact half a million people die each year in the UK, that’s almost one every minute. But somehow it still shocks us when someone we love dies. We can experience so many different reactions: that it is unfair, that it was the wrong time, that it shouldn’t have happened, that he was too young, that he had more to do, that it was a waste of a life, that we hadn’t said all that we wanted to say, we hadn’t said goodbye, we hadn’t said thank you. And so much more.

Perhaps the reason we find it shocking is because the subject of death very rarely comes into everyday conversation. And when we do speak about death the language we use is always sad and negative. The fact is that death is part of life and life is part of death. The two are inextricably linked we can’t have one without the other.

A useful place to begin the conversation is deathcafe 🙂

27/08/2015 More

Reading blogs about grief

bigstock-Gratitude-37954498Today for some reason I found myself reading Blogs about people’s experiences of having someone they love die and how they are experiencing their grief.

Often they are so beautifully and eloquently written, which is I guess, often why they get published. But the overall message contained in these posts and stories of death and loss are really not that helpful to anyone exploring a death, whether the death was recent or a long time ago, and looking for a way to feel better.

In one blog, about two sisters who were really close, she said that she never wanted to recover from the pain and grief that she felt because this reflected how much she loved her sister. This is a very common belief. It is often repeated that the extent of our pain is the extent of our love. I would really like to explain to her that pain is pain and love is love. They are separate. To remain in pain is not a loving thing to do. To remain in pain is simply to remain in pain. Humans automatically retreat from pain. There is no impulse in us that propels us towards pain. So eventually we simply forget, we stop remembering because the memories are too painful.

This is why it is also said that “time is a healer”. Time isn’t a healer. When we are in pain, over time we forget to remember so on the surface it can feel like we have recovered from the pain of the death. But for the most part it is just buried, covered over and forgotten.

To recover and heal from the pain of grief is so much more loving and honourable. It is possible for the person we love that has died to be present and remain “alive” to us in so many ways. When we have healed it is possible for their name to be mentioned often, for them to still be included in conversations. Why? Because to remember isn’t painful, to remember is connection, to remember is to love and honour them. To remember is to feel grateful for their life and for their death.

But this is only possible if we uncover and discover the gifts and positives and good that their death has brought into our life.

15/08/2015 More