Category: after the death

Becoming happy again after someone you love has died

it'snothappypeopleIt struck me just the other day that I was really happy! Now that might not sound exceptional in any way but in fact for me it is.

When I was in the pain of grief I can remember writing in my journal that I was looking forward to the day that I would be able to feel happy again. However, in a way I didn’t really believe that I would ever be able to do that. The pain was so huge and debilitating that it felt impossible that I would ever emerge from it. Plus I had a lot of unconscious beliefs about death and grief that would have held me back without me even being aware of them.

But emerge I did. I am very thankful that I stumbled across the nine steps to healing from grief. Through working these steps I uncovered so much about how I was thinking and how I was being held hostage by my thoughts and more importantly by my beliefs. I had no idea where these beliefs had come from, not specifically, until I uncovered them and talked about them. I was very surprised when I would say things like: “it is disrespectful to not feel sad…” On reflection I think I picked my beliefs up along the way throughout my life. I acquired them from my religious upbringing, from films, from novels, from media, from how I saw adults behaving at the news of a death and at funerals. Everywhere in fact!

And now that I am aware of these cultural paradigms I hear them expressed all over the place and that is just the way it is, I can’t change that. But what can be changed is our ability to really, truly heal our pain. We can absolutely arise out of our grief and so be able to talk about, remember and honour our person who has died. When we do this they can become ever present in our life rather than just a painful memory. For me this fact is the most compelling reason to heal the pain of grief. I am happy and grateful every day that I get to connect with my dead husband whenever and wherever I want to.

Of course everyone reacts differently to bereavement and also every death is different too. For example we might feel totally fine when one parent dies and then feel devastated when the other dies. It is strangely unpredictable. But what is predictable is the assumption by others of how we ought to feel and how we should react. But if we can’t be our authentic self when it comes to death and its sibling, grief then when can we be?

I guess if I were asked for advice when it comes to grief I would say: “question everything…”

With love

Josephine x


27/04/2016 More

The timing of death


The other day I was reminded of how lots of people feel about the timing of a death. It was when a friend mentioned that she had lost any trust that she would be taken care of now that she had been diagnosed with a rare condition. She was worried that she wouldn’t be able to recover and then die from her illness because she feels so let down by life and the universe. She thinks this way because someone she loved and adored died not so long ago. He had suffered from cancer and had tried every cure in the book but died anyway.

Understandably this death seemed wrong to her and she felt that it should never have happened. Her belief in her own healing was shattered because someone she loved had died at the “wrong time”.

Everyone finds death very upsetting, even devastating especially when it’s someone we love, no matter how old or young that person is. Some deaths are violent some are peaceful and they are always distressing. Death is also unpredictable. We don’t know when it will happen we only know that it will happen. (Unless we plan it of course and a tiny proportion of people do that).

Why is it we find the timing of death so hard to accept?

Is it because the whole idea of death is so difficult to grasp?

This remains true even when we have nursed someone through their illness and have been with them when they are in their final days and hours and minutes and seconds. It is very likely that we are left with the feeling or the belief that the timing was wrong. That our loved one should not have died right then. That this event was meant to happen at another time, later of course, sometime in the future, just not now.

This is not always the case, not everyone feels this way, especially when someone is old and frail, or suffering in pain. In those cases it is much easier to accept that death had to happen when it happened. But when someone we love dies young or in childhood or in the prime of life our reaction is often that this wasn’t right that death happened at the wrong time. How often do we hear “gone too soon, tragically struck down in the prime of life” etc.?

Grief is always difficult and it is made much harder to deal with when we hold to the belief that the person we love died at the wrong time. Thinking this way only serves to exacerbate our pain and make healing difficult.

We can never bring our loved one back even though we would like to do that. When I was in the midst of grief I can remember pleading for my husband to come back even though rationally I knew that this was impossible. I couldn’t accept that he had died when he died. I wanted him to die later when he was older. I was the one who should have died first. But actually this was not about him it was about me, and my fear of living life without him.

But it is possible to see what was good and positive about the time that he died. The obvious one is that he was no longer in the pain that had become unbearable.

He also didn’t have to worry anymore that his brain was no longer working. He found that aspect of his illness particularly difficult to bear as he had had a brilliant mind.

He didn’t have to deal with the stressful high profile court case that he was involved in that was going on at that time. Happily there was a successful conviction several months after his death.

He didn’t have to grow old. I’m positive he would not have enjoyed old age. So he will always be remembered as a vibrant good-looking guy.

He died before me, which is what he wanted.

In his last moments he experienced unconditional love and trust.

And there is so much more that was just plain good.

I mention these things not to diminish the impact of his death but to show that there is always another side and to honour the timing of his death and the way he died. After all who am I to say that his death should have been different from what it was? Everything was exactly the way it was supposed to be. Nothing is all bad nor all good. And death is no different. We are simply not encouraged to see it this way.

Because I was fortunate enough to explore his death and all the circumstances surrounding it in a whole and complete way I can now recognise that actually he was not only born on the perfect day but he also died on the perfect day. As a result of this I experience so much peace and serenity, which is in sharp contrast to how I felt before. As Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet: “Nothing is good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”

Recovering from grief is about being able to look at things in a totally different way and some of the things we can begin to look at are the year, month, day, hour, minute and second the person we loved died.

You may be very surprised at what you discover.

With love

Josephine x


15/03/2016 More

Clearing your loved one’s belongings after they’ve died

teddybearcollectionEveryone is different, we know this. But when it comes to a death, and I’m talking about the death of a loved one, for some of us their belongings can be tricky to deal with. What do we keep and what do we throw away? Is it right to clear away all of the things that they used in life? Or is it right to keep them? Or is the right thing to throw some and keep some?

Some people are minimalist and some are hoarders. Then there are those that are somewhere in between. Some of us are sentimental and some just aren’t that way at all. For some people it is enough that their loved one lives on in their memory and they have no need to keep anything. Then there are others who want to stay surrounded by their things as a way of connection. The surest thing about all of this is that there is no right or wrong way. We do what we feel is right for our particular situation and don’t let anyone tell you differently.

But if you are like me and have already done a lot of clearing but have finally got stuck because now you are down to the nitty-gritty like personal commuters that still receive emails, external hard drives and various other digital storage systems with who knows what beautiful photos of the grand children on them? His designer clothes and other beautiful things, including his much loved teddy bear collection. The feeling is weighty and it comes into my mind often and takes up precious space and energy. What is the best way forward?

Yes, at a push I could do this part myself but I’ve done so so much, with the help of a friend, over the past two years that I feel now I could actually delegate this last part to someone else. Someone who does this for a living. A professional. Someone who has the time and patience to rescue the photos and store them for the future. Someone who is dispassionate and can easily see what is useful and what is not. I don’t want to do it by myself, I’m over it, but at the same time I want and need it to be done.

I had an “aha” moment at a John Demartini evening last week when he advocated the positive effects of delegating activities in your life that you just don’t want to do, or you are not able to do for one reason or another. It’s an act of self-love on my part.

So yes, you can do the clearing alone and/or with the help of friends and family – there are a ton of blogs about how to do that –  but you can also employ a professional. There will be people in your local area that will be doing this as a business. I just did a simple search online. We had a meeting and as yet haven’t done the clearing yet, I’m waiting to hear back from her with the plan and the price. 🙂

I’ll write again with the results and how it felt working with her.

01/10/2015 More