We do not heal from leaving our loved ones behind. We heal from bringing them with us.
It is said that in order to heal from the pain of grief, we must grow beyond our loved one’s presence in our life and that this means we leave behind the life we once had and move forward to create a new one. It’s true that we find our lives have been changed and we will never be the same person we once were. However,we do not heal from leaving our loved ones behind.
We heal from bringing them with us.
Some people are afraid that in moving forward, they will forget their loved one. They will not remember the sound of their voice or the way they laughed. They will no longer recall the smell of their cologne or the way their hugs felt when they wrapped their arms around them. So they continue to cling to these memories, replaying old tapes again and again just so that they won’t forget. To these people moving on means forgetting, but how could you possibly forget these things? Healing from grief means you remember them with laughter and not always with tears. That the thought of times past are filled with love and the stories are cherished and passed along. We can never leave those we have loved behind. They are a part of us and, as Thomas Campbell wrote, “To live on in hearts we leave behind is not to die.” They are not only a part of our past, but a part of our future as well.
They are present when we cook their recipes in the same way they taught us. We feel them near as we make decisions and remember what they told us about life and how to conduct ourselves. They are a part of every family gathering and of moments spent alone. We continue to try to make them proud of us and we may even do things in their honor. We may plant a special tree or garden, donate to a charity in their name, take part in a fundraising event or complete our education knowing how important that would have been to them. They guide us with an invisible hand and a still connected heart. We know that they accompany us wherever we go and our silent companions continue to urge us to laugh again, to live fully the life we still have and to cherish each moment. We can and we must do this in order to move through the journey of grief knowing they will be with us each step of the way.
Nancy Weil is a leading authority on humor and grief. She serves as Director of Grief Support for eleven cemeteries and is a Certified Funeral Celebrant and Grief Management Specialist. Through her company, The Laugh Academy, she offers products to ease the stress and pain that grief can bring. Bandages for Your Heart on DVD or CD, Laugh for the Health of It on CD and her new book, If Stress Doesn’t Kill You, Your Family Might, can be ordered by clicking here.
Originally published January 2012