Losing a loved one is always hard. Even when they have lived a good life and are just “done”, it is hard to let go; to accept that there will now be a time of separation. For those who have a testimony of life after death, it can be a little easier, because we have hope of being together again. But the pain of missing them is still a reality of life.
The key to peace for me, as I lost first my father and then my mother within ten months, is acceptance. In On Grief and Grieving Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and David Kessler identified 5 stages in the grieving process: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. I know that many people do experience these five stages, and it is good for them to understand the process so that they don’t think something is wrong with them as they pass through these emotions.
Thirty years ago I lost my three year-old son Mikey in a drowning accident. It was certainly unexpected and played out quickly over just a few days. Now I have lost my Dad and my Mom who both declined slowly over years and months. In all three cases, regardless of whether death came suddenly and unexpectedly, as a welcome relief, or was a quiet, peaceful passing, my experience with grief and loss seems to be colored by my testimony of an afterlife and the 12-Step work I have done on acceptance. I have learned to trust the Lord in all things, everyday. I have learned that with His help I can overcome anything; he will give me the strength and power to do all things that are expedient unto him (see Moroni 7:33.)
As far as I can tell, I have not experienced denial, anger, bargaining or depression in the face of death; some sadness – yes, but sadness is not depression. I have been blessed to go immediately to a place of acceptance. It is a comfortable place. I am grateful for this gift.
The morning I got word that my mother had slipped through the veil, I was standing in the bedroom and the following conversation took place in my head. I seemed to hear my mother speaking to me.
Mom: “You know what? There IS an afterlife! And Dad is here, too!!!”
Me: “I know, Mom. ?”
Then, a few minutes later, I was reflecting on the fact that I never “heard from” Dad after he died, and I thought, “He was too proud and stubborn to tell me I was right”. And then, in my head, I heard HIS voice: “Yeah, yeah.?”
As I wrote my prayers in the days following my mother’s death, this came to me in the Lord’s response to one prayer:
“Your Mom and Dad are adjusting to the new realities of their lives. Because your Mom is more open to learning new truth that is not consistent with the ‘traditions of their fathers,’ she and your Dad will be walking the same spiritual path at the same time, despite his earlier arrival. It helps that Mikey, and their parents, are able to visit with and teach them. Oh, what interesting conversations are taking place up here. ?”
As I said at the end of my post about Dad’s death, it is what it is. I am at peace. And I am grateful.
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