A little over five years ago my sister Christine’s husband Dick died at a relatively young age, after a ten-year struggle with a devastating disease.
Dick and Christine were happily married for 26 years. Dick, a warm, caring man, was a beloved family member. He was like a brother to me. As you’d expect, everyone was sad and there was the usual grieving.
But even at the funeral, instead of focusing on Dick’s illness and death, we talked about his life, the wonderful memories over so many years, all the happiness he and Christine had found together.
Christine was certainly missing him, as we all were. But she dealt with his death in a positive way. She allowed herself to feel the sadness, but didn’t get so devastated and immersed in grief she couldn’t function. And, in fact, she moved through the heavy grieving time relatively fast.
A friend of Christine’s told her there was something wrong with her because she was doing so well. The friend thought she should have been in an extended period of deep grief. Christine told her that was nonsense. I agreed with Christine.
That reminded me of two cousins of ours whose sons had died young. Both of them grieved, literally, for years. They never regained their balance. Both died miserable deaths when they were only middle-aged.
What is an “appropriate” period of grief? Is grief itself ever appropriate?
Any negative emotion, including grief, always means you are looking at things differently from your higher selves or souls. Always.
We acknowledge and accept the “way of the world,” if you will, is to grieve, to be sad and upset when someone you love dies. We’re sensitive to your feelings here, and are not telling you to deny or suppress those feelings, whether they’re negative or positive.
Your feelings serve you well, for they portray accurately your thoughts, your predominant thoughts and beliefs.
However, we wish to briefly discuss here today this thing you call death, and which most of you dread. You dread it because you don’t fully understand what it really is. Nor do you understand exactly what happens after death.
Death comes to you all. You cannot avoid it. So you might as well make peace with it.
When you’re grieving for a loved one who has died, you often say you’ve “lost” them. You have not lost them.
You never lose those you love. The love is eternal. But so too is your loved one, as are you. In death your loved ones are closer to you than in life. They are right there beside you. They want to communicate with you, to let you know they are still there, loving you. Communication with them is no more difficult than talking with them when they were physically right there with you. But you have to be open to it. For most of you that means changing your perceptions of life and death.
As you all know, there is a part of you — the larger part of you — who lives eternally in the realms of spirit. Or “heaven” if you prefer. These are the realms from which we speak to you through John.
You use various names for this part of you: soul, higher self, Godself, etc. All are fine. We prefer “soul” or “higher self.” Whatever name you use, that part of you is eternal. It never dies — only your physical bodies die. When you leave your bodies you return to your soul once again. And it is always a joyous “reunion,” if you will, regardless of the circumstances of your death.
When a loved one dies he or she not only is reunited with his/her soul, but is also reunited with that part of you — your soul — who has never left the realms of spirit. Again, it’s a joyful reunion. Although, in truth, they have been together forever.
And, of course, when you pass through the veil you call death, you will be fully with your loved ones again. You will no longer be in the illusion of the separation you call physical reality.
If you understand death in the ways we’ve talked about here today, you will not grieve for your loved ones. You will rejoice for them. Death is not the end of you, only a new beginning.
So, to answer John’s question (which he meant rhetorically), “Is grief itself ever appropriate?” — we would say it is not appropriate. Not ever.
And certainly long periods of grieving are doubly inappropriate. They are also, as John pointed out, debilitating and even devastating to your physical bodies.
Rejoice in life. Rejoice in death. Your loved ones are always there. You can communicate with them just as we communicate with you, and you with us. After all, we’re about as “dead” as you can get.
All is well.