Grief is a very painful emotion and can cause great distress. For older people it can even be especially difficult to experience. Grief if prolonged can lead to depression and even physical illness. Grief from the death of a loved one is a response to the loss of that person’s presence in our lives. The difference between grief and missing someone is that we grieve when we never expect to be with that person ever again. When we miss someone we feel their absence as emotionally unpleasant, we yearn to have them back in our lives, but we are hopeful and anticipate a future reunion with our loved one. When someone dies we experience the loss of their presence in our lives. If we try to let go, to separate, to have closure, to end our connection our experience of loss is much greater. We force ourselves to unnaturally detach from someone we continue to love.
The religions that teach a life after death foster the concept that our loss is not permanent but temporary. We must wait, however, until we too are dead. AfterTalk, encourages us to remain connected with those we still love by continuing to communicate with deceased loved ones through writing. Writing allows us to create space for our loved one to fill over time and in the future. We can look forward to sharing our lives in the present rather than separating or waiting until we die. Writing allows for more time and space for our deceased loved ones. Each day now and in the future that we write to them creates an extension of our relationship.
For people that we have lived with for decades of our own lives we can discover their thoughts and responses to our questions within ourselves because we have internalized them during our shared times together. By writing, memories can come back to us that we thought were lost so that we can re-experience our loved one again. There is enough integration of the person we loved that we can answer new questions posed to them because, as we write, what they would have said to us gets written down.
When I finish a session with my father where I began by wishing that I could ask his sage council about some issue regarding one of my children, I have a pretty good idea of what he would have said to me. It flows from writing to him. His thoughts begin to flow through me. I can write it as if it were a quote and be comforted as I read it back. Who are we but the sum of all our relationships and experiences? Who are our deceased loved ones but our memories of all that we have felt about, talked about, experienced together, conversations, shared relationships with others in a web of interactions and thoughts? I chose not to separate. I chose not to wrench out my father, brother , husband from my soul but to invite them to be with me and to continue to share my future with them alongside of me.
This is why I encourage you to join AfterTalk and try its Private Conversations resource.