From Grief to Joy
Updated: Feb 16
The first time I experienced death first hand, was when I was about 8 or 9 years old and my black bunny Skutt, of Russian sobel heritage, had to be put to sleep after falling ill. We had tried to save her with sugar-water that my mother had put in one of her old syringes from taking allergy shots and that we let Skutt suck on. Nonetheless her shaking legs was from a pest, the vet said. I remember holding her inbetween my legs as always, before I let my mother carry her into the office, in a basket, whereupon we buried her in our garden. (I had other bunnies after this, but she was of course special as my first.)
Soon thereupon my grandmother Maria fell down from a chair in her kitchen with a heart attack, making my mother devastated. As of me, I think I was just bewildered and infused with sadness. About five years later, when I was in 7th grade, about to turn 13 years old, my classmate Anki died from a car-accident, prompting a lock-down of our school with our counselor coming to talk to the whole class, including the part that had been transferred to another high school in town. It was extra sensitive for me and my family, since my mother had taught her big sister Ann-Louise in special-ed and I was the last one who had talked to Anki, when we for once walked home together the afternoon before. Her sister's boyfriend who drove the car, ended up in a wheel chair, her sister survived without any scars and Anki had slept in the backseat without a belt and gone through the window, instantly breaking her neck. It also was what I wrote about as an essay practice about what the worst was we have experienced growing up, in advertising school.
Later, my grandfather Uno also passed away, my mentor Henri, and so did my other grandmother Hanna, followed some years later by my mother and other grandfather Åke. Then add American special friends and teachers, and acquaintances here in Sweden, where three passed away within six months only four years ago. Then death becomes near you, almost like its own secret in silence. It would however take another decade and a life threatening situation of my own, to feel my passed on family members' presence, not to be confused with angels however.
The process of grieving I have learned, is a breaking open of heart to reconnect with unconditional love and the source of life, and God. It's anger and tears, disbelief and suspicion, sometimes stifled stalling and sometimes a reason to reclaim passion with full force and seriousness. It has also brought courage to live more, and a new found relief to find joy. Pure joy, treasured worth from within by gratitude and grace, vulnerable aliveness that humbles us to the core. It also brings presence and fullness, an awareness of the invisible world where spirits sleep, as my grandfather Åke used to put it. Most of all, it brings an even more directness to cut to the chase, make the point and don't waste my time! So, in one way, I respect others less perhaps, who don't respect my time, ironically since I so often find myself being late to meetings and such. But, also so many times, have been made late by others, which in fact have saved me later in the day with the timing.
It wasn't until my mother died in 2004, I understood grief and my own way of dealing with it, starting when I understood that it would be the inevitable end coming closer fall 2002, which nonetheless doesn't make me into any expert. How we react and how we deal with it, and how we explain it all, has all to do with who we are and how we normally function in comparison. What has been a challenge for me, might be completely obvious to you to already live by and perhaps your challenge is even the opposite. This is why all healing of heart and soul, only can be understood subjectively and shared with actual examples of experiences, besides the natural course of things shared generally in psychology as shock, processing, turning forward, moving forward. Not processing it properly with support, is part of what causes PTSD. We should also remember that more than death brings grief, just like more than happiness brings joy, all connected through feeling love. Never to be only taught but realized from within (which is what a coach can help you with).
It is always physical to me and how I managed was simply by crying and dancing. Talking and writing.
How have you dealt with your grief? Do you go out more and shy away from home or do you sit and wallow in memories with photos? Do you cry or get angry outbursts or both? Did you become depressed and rather stay silent doing nothing? Or do you try to compensate by chasing after a new person to substitute the one you just lost? Moving forward through grief with action, is also possible with coaching, while going through the motions and pondering about life and death, is best cared for by professional ministers and diakons at church, or licensed therapists.
As always, don't beat yourself up about it, finding compassion is the way through, to heal your heart.