Friday, February 21, 2014

Emotional and Spiritual Healing After Bereavement

Grief tends to result in closing down of the heart chakra and tender care will help it to open again. In helping others, touch, be it holding a hand, putting a comforting arm around a shoulder, hugging or massage, will often set flowing a stream of healing tears. However, make sure that if you do this with a friend or loved one, you have permission to do so and that you choose an appropriate time and place. You would be doing no favors to a work colleague to help them tip into much needed crying in the middle of the office! If you are grieving don't be afraid to ask someone to hold you if that's what you need.

Undoubtedly you will want to talk about your loved one. Sadly many of us have forgotten how to do this and friends may appear embarrassed at the mention of the person and try to change the subject. But you do need someone to talk to and a professional bereavement counselor might be the person. Conversely some people who are grieving refuse to talk and become agitated or angry if the person who is gone is mentioned. This person also needs to be encouraged to talk and probably needs professional help. You may feel angry with God or conversely feel a sudden need to look toward a religion or spirituality you may have neglected for years. Sometimes talking to someone from your local church or synagogue will help even if you have never been an active member before.

Patricia Davis in her lovely book Subtle Aromatherapy suggests a wonderful meditation for the friends who are grieving. There is also a grief meditation you might like to use in The Rainbow Journey. Sharing with others who are grieving can be very healing If you think this could be so for you, call CRUSE and ask where there are groups in your area. The book, A Grief Remembered by C.S. Lewis, sharing his thoughts and experiences on the death of his wife, is a touching account which may help you feel less isolated in your grief. The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche is also wonderful and answers many questions about the meaning of life and what happens after death.

Whatever you do, don't let anyone hurry you in your healing. Grief usually takes about two years to resolve, although by the first anniversary of the death things may be much easier to bear. In former times, and still in some cultures, mourning was marked by the wearing of black. Until the first anniversary there would be full mourning which was not only a sign of respect for the dead but also a signal that the person was fragile and grieving. After the first anniversary there would be a change to black armbands, women also having a black hat or headscarf and men a black tie. Only after the second anniversary were normal clothes worn again as a sign that mourning was complete. Although we have lost that tradition, the timescale has not changed. Should you still be stuck in your grief after this period, however, perhaps you should be considering professional help.

If your loved one has died without you being able to say all you needed to say, then often writing a letter to them, even though you cannot send it, can help. Even years after someone has died or left you, this technique can have enormous benefits in healing the past. If grief remains unresolved and is getting in the way of your moving on with your life, you may like to consider a tie-cutting ceremony. This is a ceremony in which, guided by a healer, you visualize the bonds that still hold you to the person who has gone, and then sever them after a meditation in which you affirm that you are doing this for your own good as well as that of the person who has left, to allow both of you to be free. We usually advise that a letter is written ahead of the tie-cutting ceremony to ensure that all has been said, although cutting the ties does not mean that you cannot write later if you so desire.

Whatever, be gentle on yourself and be aware that all your sensory thresholds are likely to be depressed so that you feel irritated by sound, by light, by touch, etc. Talking of sound, music can be one of the most healing and yet exquisitely painful things at this time. If your grief is stuck, music can often access it.

If you know someone who has lost a dear one, try to remember that often in the first few weeks there is much activity - preparing a funeral, writing letters, dealing with solicitors, etc. It is often months later that the bereft person will need continuing support, when friends and even family have moved on and the true loneliness and grief sets in. A bunch of flowers, a phone call or an invitation to supper could make all the difference to the person starting to live once again.

If you are someone who works with the dying, don't forget your own needs. Although you may have a very good understanding of death and feel comfortable with the process, you're only human. Don't neglect yourself. Sometimes it isn't the dealing with the dying, but dealing with the bereft that takes its toll. Have some support for yourself.

Leslie writes on his blog and for various small business websites, you can connect with him on Google+.

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