As a bereaved parent, I’m still on my quest, but getting considerably closer to finding that place of total inner peace I’ve been wanting for so long. The kind of peace that I want, money can’t buy. No one can give it to me. The peace that I want, I know can only come through my ability to accept all things in my life as they have happened. And in all things, I can do this. All but one: accepting the loss of my daughter.
While it’s been an incredible journey of self-discovery to this point and there is no denying it’s doubtful I would have learned all that I have without the death of my child (I do believe in contracts between souls), this doesn’t mean that I like what has happened in any way. Nor has her death been easy to accept. Not her part in it or all the struggle I’ve been left with. From a purely spiritual perspective, it’s the easiest thing in the world to see how we agreed the contract between us to learn our respective lessons and fulfil our life obligations. From the physical (excuse my language) it’s been more like: “WTF? What just happened? What was I thinking????” (my ongoing inner voice battle.)
I am certain that many bereaved people who have lost someone they love to suicide or other sudden death, can relate when I say that my heart tells me that everything about my daughter’s death and the subsequent impact on our family was just plain wrong. It shouldn’t have happened. Any one of us, with a little more insight or by changing just one small thing that day or the day before or any time before that could have steered things in a different direction to prevent the inevitable from happening.
My head tells me that everyone who knew and loved our girl did the best that we could with the sparse knowledge we had at the time. Hindsight is only helpful to a point. It doesn’t leave room for much except more regret.
Leaving the spiritual out of it, there is a constant tug of war within me between these two conflicting beliefs. Despite intellectually understanding that peace can only come from the choice I make to be peaceful, I’ve learned over the years that this doesn’t make the emotional struggle any easier. Going through some earlier posts I had written on the topic, and one that I wrote only two days before my daughter’s sixth angel anniversary, I can honestly say the struggle remains the same as we now approach her fourteenth.
I wrote about then and can still remember with the same clarity today, every detail of those last few days leading to her passing, but especially every moment of the last day of her life. It is these memories that still bring up so much of the pain that won’t let me experience the total peace I crave.
With a few more years under my belt with this whole grief thing we hate to talk about and hate even more to experience, I can with confidence offer to anyone struggling to accept their loved one’s death, that being willing to let go of pain is the best place to start if you want to gain any peace after loss. In fact, it’s the only place to start, because letting go of pain is completely tied to our ability to accept all of the bad that’s happened in our life. I know how simple this sounds, but it really is a huge undertaking that should not be underestimated in its importance to a full recovery from grief.
Years ago, from the earliest weeks of my grief, I vowed not to let pain get the better of me. I quickly saw what it could do to a person. I didn’t want it to destroy our family and rob my son of all that he deserved. I did not want to suffer emotionally. I wanted to feel joy again. I wanted to live the rest of my days blessedly at peace. Healing was at the top of my to do list. I set out on a course over the next several years to fully understand the power of the mind that I was certain could make my body whole.
To be in a constant state of tranquility, never troubled by thoughts; and completely reconciled with the way things were, are and will be, may be a tall order for anyone to achieve. Perhaps doubly so for anyone experiencing complicated grief. Yet, I still feel it is not a hopeless pursuit. While a spiritual practice has been essential to the healing I have so far found in my grief, without one there are still a few things one can do to ease their way to a more peaceful life:
- Acknowledge your suffering. This will help you gain a more realistic perspective on whatever you are trying to achieve, especially when the odds seem stacked against you.
- Forgive yourself your perceived part in whatever painful experience is tying you to struggle.
- Love yourself a little bit more today than yesterday. Use a post-it note or daily phone alert to remind yourself.
- Your loved one who has died is at peace, even if you’re not. It can feel comforting to remember this.
- If you have lost a child or other significant loved one, acknowledge them as the centre of your world still, though in a new and different way. It can help you feel more connected to them and lessen the isolation commonly felt in grief.
- Learn as much as you can about yourself in pain. Each new discovery will take you a step closer to finding out who you really are. Knowing this will help eliminate the inner chaos and confusion.