Oct 232013

To Cope with Death and Loss – Ritual is Important

Death is an American taboo. It’s not spoken of very much and is often considered a “personal” matter. We don’t want to talk about it with those who are experiencing a loss. I’ve had the opportunity to share the life stories of many people from all walks of life and their journey through the darkness called the death of a loved one or someone close to them.

Almost to a person they tell stories that are of a would of, should of, or could of nature. Stories that tell me that those left behind put themselves through unnecessary pain and suffering. These people more often than not carry with them guilt about all that they meant to do with their departed loved one but never got around to.

Just how are we to respond when someone close to us dies? Certainly with sadness. Sadness over never feeling their touch again, hearing their voice, or seeing them smile. A sense of loss. Now each of us will deal with loss on our own time table, but all of us will go through a grieving process that includes these five stages:

  1. Denial:
    • Example – “I feel fine.”; “This can’t be happening, not to me!”
  2. Anger:
    • Example – “Why me? It’s not fair!” “How can this happen, I hate this world!”
  3. Bargaining:
    • Example – “I should have…, If I had only done…, If I had it to do over I would…”‘
  4. Depression:
    • Example – “I’m so sad, why bother with anything?”; “I want to die . . . What’s the point?”
  5. Acceptance:
    • Example – “It’s going to be okay.”; “I can’t fight it, I may as well deal with it.”

The problem for all too many is that they get “stuck” and never get to the final step: acceptance.

It is when we can accept that our loved one has moved on that we can begin to heal. Start the road to recovery that can be both enriching and fulfilling. Sounds impossible? It’s not. Most of us are taught to think in a linear manner. That is everything has a beginning and an end and that the beginning and the end are absolute, set in stone if you will.

Let’s look at life and death through the ways of the Native Americans who see all of creation as a circle. Without an arbitrary beginning or end. Yes the Native American feels exactly what you and I feel when facing the loss of someone we love, the difference is in the perspective they take when remembering that person. Rather than dwelling on the would of, could of, or should of they choose to honor the memory of that person through their actions.

The memory of that person lives on through me. It is by the actions I take toward others that I show honor towards those that have gone on before me.

It almost becomes a ritual. You encounter another person or event then you ask how would my departed loved one handle this encounter, then you act in that way. Knowing that by your action you have remembered your loved one while doing something good or positive.

Ritual is important. We all are involved in ritualized events every day of our lives. One ritual worth considering is to associate the memory of your loved one with a fragrance. Take any of the Young Living Essential Oils, find one that brings you a sense of comfort, than apply a small amount whenever you are troubled by a memory of your deceased loved one. Allow yourself to think only good thoughts when the fragrance of Young Living Essential Oils is encountered.

Yes, death can be painful, but when we learn to replace hopelessness with hope, when we seek the guidance of God in all that we do, when we live to honor our departed loved one we along with Paul can say   “O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting?” 1Cor 15:55 RSV