|Publisher:||Penguin Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.37(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.70(d)|
|Age Range:||18 Years|
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Healing GriefReclaiming Life After Any Loss
By James Van Praagh
New American LibraryCopyright © 2001 James Van Praagh
All right reserved.
GRIEF AND LOSS
No matter where we live or what language we speak, we share a common experience with everyone else on the planet--the loss of someone or something close to us. Loss can be sudden, without warning, or predictable, and still we are unable to prevent it from happening. All loss brings up feelings and memories, and for some these experiences may seem uneventful, while for others such loss changes the course of their lives forever. When someone or something is gone from our lives, we experience an array of physical, emotional, and spiritual sensations known as grief. Webster's Dictionary defines grief as "a deep and poignant distress caused by or as if by bereavement; a cause of such suffering; a mishap, misadventure, trouble, annoyance; an unfortunate outcome: disaster."
Why is there grief and why do we have to go through it? Grief serves a very important purpose. It is a reaction to our loss. It represents our underlying sense of insecurity. Our fears of abandonment and feelings of vulnerability rise to the surface, forcing us to face them. The world upon which we predicated our belief systems, goals, and our lives in general is suddenlyout of control. We feel scared and exposed. Most of us don't want to deal with or feel these negative emotions, and yet they are just as relevant and as important to our well-being as our positive feelings. We need both positive and negative to be fully human. It has been said that one would never appreciate the positive emotions if he never knew of the negative ones. That is why it is so important to face negative emotions and experience them because by doing so, we build trust and confidence within ourselves. The worst thing we can do is to deny and repress them altogether. This only delays our spiritual growth.
Another factor to keep in mind is that grief is not an illness from which we recover. It is not merely one thing, but a process of feelings and physical conditions, and one cannot judge how much grief is enough grief. You should never feel pressured as to how you are supposed to grieve, for there is no right or wrong way. It is important to remember that there are healthy and constructive ways to go through the grieving process, as well as destructive and unhealthy ones, which can lead to more suffering.
Every time a loved one dies, we lose a little hope of a better future. A human being has been torn from our lives. A relationship is cut off in one swift blow. We feel frustrated, angry, sad, and confused. We feel regret for things undone and words unsaid. We wonder why the innocent or good die young, and the good-for-nothings live too long. Grieving for our loved ones is not an intellectual process. We have to learn to understand our own feelings and come to peace with the situation. Even when a personality or a celebrity dies, we go through a grieving process. It all depends on how much vested interest we had in such a person. We may experience his or her death as a personal loss. When John Kennedy Jr. died, many people who didn't know him cried on his behalf. His death brought up memories of his father, uncle, mother, and an era that seemed simpler. At times like these we mourn the loss of what might have been, especially if we feel that life is passing us by too quickly. We also feel our own fragility as humans because we don't know when our time will come. And because death is scary and unknown, we grieve our own mortality.
Communicate Your Grief
At the onset of any loss, our first reactions are usually shock or disbelief. After a while we come to the realization of our loss, and our feelings turn to sadness, anger, loneliness, guilt, despair, and a whole array of emotions, bodily ills, and other physical conditions. Sometimes our grief seems like an endless process, as if we were trapped in an abyss of darkness without the possibility of escape. Yet loss and grief are frequent occurrences, and most of us are ill prepared to handle them. First of all, we are not used to talking about our grief. Instead, we keep our thoughts and feelings to ourselves, or we rush to discard or ignore the pain we feel. Second, we often rationalize, "If I don't think about it, it will go away." As a society, we do little to help each other understand the effect of loss or even to allow individuals the time necessary to recognize the hurt, sadness, and confusion they feel.
Because we as a society would rather hide and deny death and loss, instead of embracing it and becoming educated about it, we have never been properly taught how to grieve. Therefore, when an event like a death or the onset of a terminal illness occurs, we don't have the necessary tools with which to deal with the situation. We feel that denying its existence is easier because the pain is too unbearable. However, if we possess an awareness of grief and the emotions born of it, we will be that much better prepared to deal with it in a positive, constructive manner and to face it with less fear and anxiety.
Grieving is a natural process of life, and as a process, it takes time to get through. Instead of allowing ourselves the opportunity to break through the grief barrier and reconstruct our lives with a sense of renewal and hope, we expect to get over it with as little display as possible. But how do we get over our grief without an understanding of what we are going through? My desire really is to assist you by sharing my experiences and the experiences of others who have gone through, and continue to go through, the grieving process. I will also give you ways and methods from a spiritual point of view to observe your own grief, so you can come out of the pain and confusion with an entirely new perspective. Your change in attitude may help you to become a totally whole and loving person. Because you will be learning immeasurable insights about yourself and others, you can, in turn, take the steps necessary to create a happier and more fulfilling life for yourself.
The only way to avoid grief is to avoid life, and live without love. Grieving is very human. It's a process that can heal our emotional upheaval and mental uncertainty. Everyone feels various degrees of anguish and suffering during the process, and these feelings are natural and normal. Healthy grieving is taking responsibility for your own life. In order to continue life in any meaningful way, you must allow yourself to grieve.
One of the first important steps in acknowledging your sense of loss is to say good-bye to your loved ones. Many people refuse to say good-bye because they feel that if they do, they are dismissing the person or ending any opportunity to speak with him or her again. Saying good-bye helps us to realize that this person is only gone physically. The mind needs to have some sort of closure. In our culture, we have created certain rituals for saying good-bye. We attend a funeral or hold a memorial service. We light candles in churches or say prayers for the dead. These rituals are necessary for us as humans. Many a spirit has communicated how pleased it was to see family members present at its funeral. A spirit will usually stay around for such a ceremony. Such a ritual not only helps the living to readjust, but also helps the spirit to recognize that it is no longer part of the physical plane. No matter how we say good-bye, whether it is at a formal memorial or in the privacy of our own hearts, it is important that we do it. Remember that a spirit never dies. We can console ourselves with the knowledge that our loved ones are always around us. We can talk with them, and they will hear us. Remember, too, that life is constantly changing, and nothing is ever lost. What was only turns into something else.
It is also necessary to reach closure when other types of losses occur. We must be able to say good-bye to a variety of situations and circumstances that are no longer part of our daily life. Saying good-bye is never easy but often necessary. There comes a time when we have to close a door on some chapter of our lives and come to a completion in our minds. All grief needs to be felt and realized. We need to accept the loss in order to begin the healing process. If we don't grieve, we remain stagnant and carry the burden of unfinished business with us throughout life. Unprocessed grief affects our life decisions and colors every situation that we encounter. By repressing our true feelings, we push the pain deeper. Therefore, we can never really live life to its fullest potential. Instead, we merely exist.
A Spiritual Perspective
When the body is shed and we cross over to the spirit world, we open the door to eternal life. It is there that we discover that we are spiritual beings having human experiences. You will find through the stories presented in this book that we are on this earth to evolve and develop spiritually. In order to do so, we make choices before incarnating into our physical bodies to place ourselves in various situations in order to grow. Some of the situations may be painful: we lose a child, or we go through a divorce. We get ill and incapacitated. We lose our home and all our possessions. Some situations may be less distressing but disturbing nevertheless. Our children grow up and move away. We grow old alone without our friends, or we never reach our goal or dream. These lessons are all part of the incredible growth and understanding that a soul creates for itself. You must remember that you are taking part in a spiritual action, not just a physical one. You are playing your part to evolve to the next phase of your spiritual development. Perhaps you have to fulfill a karmic obligation with another person. Perhaps you have to change certain beliefs about your life, or you have to learn to control your anger. Maybe you have to master self-confidence and self-esteem. Perhaps, too, you have decided to sacrifice your needs for someone else. No matter what the reasons, the soul always makes the choice to go through an experience while on earth. If we keep this in mind, we will come to an awareness that life is a continuous process, and that we will come into the physical and go out again. This is just one of many lifetimes of our spiritual journey. There is a reason and purpose for your being alive right now. Let your grief become an opportunity for your soul to grow.
The conditions of grieving are common to everyone, as you will read in the next chapter about the stages of grief. We always have the choice either to move forward with optimism or stay stuck in sorrow.
Excerpted from Healing Grief by James Van Praagh Copyright © 2001 by James Van Praagh. Excerpted by permission.
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