By Tabasom Eblaghie
Registered Clinical Counsellor
One of the emotions that is bound to visit us at one point or another in our lives is Grief.
Grief is a friend that allows us to heal from the wound of our loss. It visits us all differently, with various faces and accompanying emotions. It brings a rollercoaster of friends with itself, including Regret, Guilt, Anger, Fear, Relief and Sadness. When a loved ones dies, these emotions then present themselves throughout the months and years that follow, at times like a tornado that leaves us feeling ripped apart, and at times as gentle as the wind on a warm summer night.
One of the most meaningful conversations I have, on a daily basis, as a therapist with my clients, is the introduction to loved ones who have passed away.
Husbands and wives, sisters and brothers, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, grandchildren and friends, introduce me to the most cherished loves of their lives.
Stories unravel about the sweet nature, kind eyes, loving hearts, and playful moments of those who have moved on to the next world. Memories unfold, much like a rose stretching open its petals with unabashed beauty. Tales are told of warm kitchens, conversations over hot cups of tea, lessons learnt and support given during difficult times, thoughtful gifts, and strong arms offering hugs and shelter.
However, these memories are often overshadowed by the emotions that visit AFTER the passing of their loves ones. The final moments, which may have been less than ideal, take a front and center stage position in the re-enactment of their relationship. Stories are told and re-told about the Guilt that visits because those final moments were not “perfect” – “Why did I get angry?”, “Why didn’t I hug him/her one last time?”, “Why didn’t I do more?”, “What if I had called or visited more?”, “I didn’t say I love you when I said goodbye!”, or “Why did I argue over such a little thing?”.
Guilt then re-lives those final moments for weeks, months and years to come and brings with it a story of Regret and Remorse.
Guilt likes to trick a lot of those left behind with a message that is truly hurtful, but allows Grief to linger and visit indefinitely. What is this message? “You must suffer. If you don’t, then you don’t love…enough.”
When did we, as a whole, come to accept this message from Guilt? Is this a lie that’s been passed down from generation to generation? When did Suffering become Love?
During the mourning process, at times Joy and Happiness visit. We enjoy a quiet moment of laughter with friends, and then immediately may feel Guilt visiting: “How can I laugh and be happy when I’ve suffered such a loss?” This Joy is then replaced once again with Sadness with the influence of Guilt in the background.
If there were one message I could share with those who grieve, it would be that Suffering does not equal Love.
Love is Love.
Bring to mind your loved one and introduce them to others in the manner they would wish you to present them: the qualities they worked hard to foster in their soul, the legacy they left behind, the good deeds and kindly words, and the effect they had on the world and on your life.
What piece of them still lives on in you?
Love involves action. Say a little prayer for them whenever the thought enters that “You shouldn’t be Joyful but must suffer”. Give to a charitable organization in the name of your loved one, or feed and clothe the homeless.
Perhaps, if they could visit us, they’d tell us that these prayers and loving actions nourished their souls, and were much more helpful than the unnecessary pain of suffering.
As Henry Scott-Holland (1919) wrote “How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again!”