Grief is something that I feel some kind of specialist, yet, even though I have some idea of what you are going through, that uncomfortable silence still comes in strong when I am faced with someone who is going through it.
You know the silence — the one that strips away your power.
That horrendous feeling of knowing that anything you say or do won’t make it better – and just holds the potential to make it a lot worse.
I was saying to my mother the other day, just after my step-dad’s funeral, that death just seems to have “liked” me somehow. A strange thing to say I know. But death has always hung out in my space.
From a very young age, I saw “dead people” and often nearly went there myself, having chronic asthma. In secondary school, it was my class that experienced the death of a student. And loss, oh boy there was a lot of that.
As the loss and death that I experienced grew, so did my fascination with the Tarot — even though all it did was mirror back to me the loss and death all around me.
At 19, I did a reading for my pregnant self and saw that I would lose my baby. I shut the cards away like a naughty child and vowed never to speak to them again. Then I dealt with it by not dealing with it. I denied even to myself that I ever did that reading — until death came for my four-month-old daughter.
Lauren was born with a terminal illness and we were blessed to know that every day with her must be treasured. For four months, I lived by the angel of death. All I could think was that when the time came, I had to be proud of the way I had spent it.
When death finally decided that today was the day, I entered two long years of excruciating, torturous pain. My life was never to be the same again.
It became an even stranger world. A world with small supernatural comforts, little signs from heaven, peppered here and there, that she was still around, yet my physical heart couldn’t help but break at the lack of physical contact. My arms ached for her, my eyes missed seeing her, my nose missed smelling her and my skin sorely missed hers.
Night times were endless nightmares of reliving her death over and over again, and the worst nightmare of all was waking up in the morning, because that one was real. I’d wake up to the angel of death still. He just would not go away, even though he had taken her away.
Then came the outside world.
What most people took for granted as normal became an immense challenge. The pregnant friends, the newlywed newly-parent, the walk past mother-care, the mother screaming at her child, the list went on. The daily stroll became not only crippling… But debilitating.
Then meeting new people and hearing THE dreaded question “Do you have any children?” Well, there was no way I was going to deny my daughter’s presence to save their awkwardness (or mine) so the answer would be (and still is) ”Yes, in the spirit world.”
And then any number of things would happen…
- A speech about how that’s the worst thing a parent could ever go through and how you will never get over it.
- “Oh well, you’ll get over it and then you can have another!”
So let’s take these one by one…
This is okay, it can be the best thing, depending on the feeling of the silence, they may understand that your silence is actually an honor because there are no words.
Again, this is some kind of validation, but I am not sorry I was blessed with my daughter, and that means “losing” her too, as that was part of her.
The speech about how you will never get over it
Is okay in one way (when you are grieving, you don’t want to get over them; it feels like some type of invalidation of your love for them), so it validates, but it risks making the person feel like they will be living with a curse for the rest of their life.
“You can get over it and have another one”
Never, ever tell anyone they will get over any form of grief, or make them feel they have been grieving for too long; it takes what it takes. And never, ever say to a parent that has lost a child that they can have another one. There is only ever one of any of us.
None of us really feel comfortable with talking about death. It would have been my mum’s 15th wedding anniversary in a couple of days, and someone who hasn’t experienced death in their life said to me, “Well, I don’t think you should be reminding her of that,” as if she is going to forget.
You can’t remind someone of something they are definitely not able to forget.
The need to speak of the loved and “lost” one is intense — it’s the only way they have of keeping them alive, and our society denies it.
The loss of a child is a particularly taboo subject. It’s as if the parent is denied the right to speak about their child. Just think how much parents like to talk about their children, and then multiply that insatiable need by a trillion (which is the strong need to keep them alive), and stick a big fat sticking a plaster over your mouth… and you have the picture, the pain, the repression.
So if you are ever in the situation where it comes up in conversation that someone has lost someone, perhaps the best thing to say is, “You must miss them,” and see what happens from there.
Let’s create a society of healing rather than repression.
Death continued to hang out in my space. My father figure a year later, one of my best friends seven years later, and then another good friend and my blood father in 2012 (who I also lost emotionally and physically as a baby), and then I lost the chance of it ever being any other way when he died.
But I will tell you something…
For those of you who are grieving, you really may not want to hear this, but there does come a time of peace, where the so-called “normal” things we take for granted in everyday life just don’t seem so unmanageable anymore.
There’s a day when what feels like insurmountable pain turns into an insurmountable spiritual connection.
It’s 17 years ago that my daughter passed, and every year that goes by the peace becomes more and more profound. The first year is always the worst, and the only way then, really is up, it really is.
Top 10 Tips For Supporting Yourself Through Grief:
1. Take time to grieve
You may well be going through the five stages of grief — denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance — and not necessarily in that order. You may well feel you are bungee jumping through all the stages in a hickeldy-piccaldy place.
2. Accept the chaos
There is no order to change, it is a chaotic process that has its own timing. Learn to ease up on yourself, practice being gentle and graceful with you, your life and everyone in it.
If there are people from the old life that hurt you, it’s a great chance to practice understanding and compassion, or at least have the intention to. It is only when we have understanding and compassion that pain and confusion diminish, do whatever you can to obtain understanding and compassion, for yourself first and foremost.
A saying from Deepak Chopra that helps me greatly is, “Everyone is doing their best at their level of consciousness.”
3. Allow anger
If you feel angry allow yourself to be angry — behind closed doors or down at the gym. Find what works for you, screaming into a pillow, stamping the floor in some wild, passionate dance or doing a class like body combat or kickboxing,
4. Listen to your emotions
Anger holds a message so listen to it, what is it screaming at you?
Deep down when we feel anger it is primarily at ourselves for getting into that situation in the first place. You may feel like a victim or wonder how it happened to you, but somewhere along the line, there will be a reason why.
When that reason has clicked you will be giving yourself the best present, one of understanding and motivation for things to be different.
5. Acknowledge your hurt
Under anger is hurt, so once you have worked through your anger don’t be surprised if the hurt comes up. People often stay in anger to avoid processing hurt, but living your life stuck in anger is just going to attract more of the same.
My dance teacher once said that it’s easy to move when things are easy, but when things get hard we simply stop moving and then we get stuck. The secret is to keep moving, even if it is only a small movement.
Just keep moving something and things will change.
6. Release your pain
Don’t pretend you aren’t and don’t rush into blaming others for how you are feeling, both are a form of escape. As soon as we try to escape the pain we close our heart. I often see people with closed hearts and I can see that they are about to be opened again. They know deep down they can’t go on closed to life.
In the process of opening all the reasons they closed down in the first place come up, all the pain is felt and the longer it has been closed the more there is. It’s just a delay mechanism, a crisis activation that that stops you feeling, but stops you living. It is your choice, you can go through life like that if you like — hardly alive.
Or you could open up, feel it and release it. Then you will be able to feel joy. Closed hearts may not feel real pain but they do not feel real joy either.
7. Be patient
Be patient with yourself and gentle with yourself as you go through this, it will take as long as it takes. Indulge in lots of you time; things that make you feel pampered, spoiled or like you are indulging yourself – with things that are good for you.
8. Acknowledge your experience
Don’t resist the pain, by doing so we drag it out, we can’t clear it – it goes on and on and on. You may find you are driving yourself or your friends insane by doing so. When the pain-wave comes, do your best to acknowledge it. Witness it and do whatever you can in that situation to be gentle with you.
9. Broaden your horizons
Take up a new interest, especially if it is something you couldn’t do before. Look for the freedom in your new life and embrace it.
10. Embrace new relationships
You may find that some people have been ripped from your life and you are suddenly surrounded by new ones. You could resist this as you grieve the loss. Just be aware of that and make a decision to honor the new beings in your life too.
You are not being disloyal to your old bonds, there is enough love to go round. See the new beings in your life as angels being sent to help you through your transition.
You know I found a way to live through the grief, and understand how to work with the Tarot that helps. Below is The Fool’s Journey MP3 that you can download for free, it helps you remember that every step in life is part of a bigger picture, I hope it helps.