The first and thus far the only time I received professional help (and I tell myself I did it because it was free) was through an Employee Assistance Program after I was let go from a job I jumped through hoops to get. The role of EAP counselling is to help people through their loss. I denied for a long time that I felt grief. I was angry and I thought it was unfair, but it never occurred to me that I was experiencing a sense of loss. It turns out that anger is a part of the grieving process and without acknowledging our sense of loss, we can never truly get past it.
I also experienced deaths in my family. Both my grandfathers died when I was a teenager. As my family had moved far away to the US from our birthplace in Turkey, I can’t say I knew them and they were both difficult to get to know. I don’t remember seeing my maternal grandma more than once and my paternal grandfather was a hard man who’d yell at grandma for letting me and my brother manipulate her into buying us lollies.
Looking back on it, I feel a little cheated out of the full human experience because I didn’t experience any sense of loss after the deaths of my grandfathers. I felt sadder that a bunch of strangers decided to hire and then fire me. How weird is that when you think about it?
What was even more shameful looking back on it, was me not even acknowledging the passing of Mum’s younger sister at the age of 57 from cancer. She died when I was between jobs and struggling in Sydney, right before the job that resulted in me seeing the EAP counsellor.
It is my belief that every family is a solar system and my Auntie was the sun that kept her family in orbit, inspired and inflow. She had a glorious mane of red hair, born a Leo in the hot days of July in Istanbul. Her modelling career brought us lots of exotic good from far away lands. She was courageous too, going out and getting what she wanted out of life without concern for what anyone would say.
As her birthday approaches again this year, I feel this renewed interest in her and all my family members who’ve come before. The rough idea that I follow in my grieving process has three parts.
Acknowledging the Past
This might mean digging through old family albums, asking questions and finding out what I can about the family members who are no longer with us. I’m most interested in what delighted them. What sort of drinks, flowers, hobbies, artwork did they seek? I find myself not at all interested about fame or fortune but the little things, the sensations that brought them to life, be it watching sunsets, moonrises, swims in the ocean, walks in the park, and the types of books they read, the music they listened to and what they created.
After finding out more about the people in my family, their bliss, I try to visualise myself having a conversation with them. I stay with them for a few minutes and may write a piece about what thinking about them brings to my consciousness. I feel their presence. This experience is possibly why people seek mediums and give them money, which I think is childish. I believe we are all in touch with the spirit world because we are all spiritual. I find peace with the person who is no longer with me. Knowing that we can spend time with those who are no longer with us should relieve any anxiety we might have about losing people or fearing that if we have a fight with someone and they pass how guilty we will feel.
The truth is you can resolve your problems and forgive someone even if that person is no longer in the physical world.
A New Beginning
So we start anew after we’ve felt the presence, heard the message of those who came before us and let go of any resentments, anger, pain and everything else we denied.
Over to you…
Did you lose anyone in your family? How did you feel at the funeral if you attended it? Did you feel you got the closure you were seeking? Have you developed your own way of grieving the loss of relationships, people or things from your life?