There is no magic word, action or pill you can take to get you through the death of a loved one. Even time, which is said to heal all, will never totally take away the pain. It will dull it, help make things better, and allow us to become stronger.
I’ve discovered something that helps more and is quicker than time. It has helped me and given me a new perspective. It is an exercise to do during the grieving period, a crucial time in healing.
Before I share, I would like to tell you a story.
My Dad died last November from heart failure due to complications with stomach cancer. He had been through many storms with his health and survived them all but this one. Call it a daughter’s intuition, but I knew it was his time. I’d been preparing myself for that day ever since 1985 when he had his first heart attack – 21 years of knowing daddy wasn’t going to be around forever.
I did my best to cherish every moment with him, but I didn’t obsess about it. When he would fall ill, I knew he would get through those challenges. I also knew no matter how much I prepared myself it was going to be hard. There is never a right time to say goodbye.
So don’t. I recently finished the book Don’t Kiss Them Goodbye by Allison Dubois, the woman who inspired the hit NBC Television Series Medium. I am now reading her second book, We Are Their Heaven. Whether you believe in one’s ability to communicate with the dead or not, Allison gives some great advice in her books.
First, remember, “You have to fall apart so that you can rebuild yourself.” This is why the grieving period is so important. Allow yourself to cry, give yourself time to be sad, and don’t expect or demand yourself to be strong. Second, know that our loved ones never really leave us. If you believe in life after death or a place called heaven, this won’t be so hard to do. If you don’t, allow yourself to have an open mind, to consider the possibility and explore this belief further. Physically they leave us, spiritually they don’t. This is Allison’s main point.
Another great statement she makes is, “The biggest compliment you can pay to people you have loved and lost is to keep a part of them alive in yourself, memorializing their significance.”
Though I could go on quoting her, I will stop with the most important thing I learned from her books: “Anybody who has lost someone they love has to find a new way of loving that person, since hugs and kisses are no longer an option.”
How can we do this? Here is my exercise that I’ve learned with the help of Allison Dubois.
When you wake in the morning, acknowledge they are with you. Say their name and talk to them aloud. This is easy to do for people who talk to themselves. I am one of those.
When you partake in an activity you delight in, bring them with you simply by thinking of them as you enjoy that time. Better yet, do the things they used to love to do. My brother mows the lawn at my mom’s house, one of dad’s favorite pastimes. I eat salami sandwiches with asiago cheese or whatever else he used to enjoy eating, but toward the end couldn’t. My mom listens to baseball games on the radio. She could care less about baseball, but dad loved the game and it is her way of saying I love you still.
These little things keep them with you. You don’t have to say goodbye. Live your life to the fullest while holding them in your heart so they may continue to experience life through you.