Finding Comfort When Someone Passes
Death is a fact of life, or is life a fact of death? Either way when someone passes, whether it was expected or not, it’s often very sad. The passing of someone who was terminally ill can often feel like a release but it doesn’t stop the pain you feel. The tragic passing of a young person, or a fatal accident, can often be very hard to reconcile. When someone takes their own life perhaps you feel guilty because you feel that you didn’t do enough for them. Whatever the circumstances it can be difficult to find comfort when someone you know passes away.
The First Time I Experienced Death
I was fifteen years old. The French department of the school had organised a French Exchange trip. My best friend and I had decided that we would stay with separate families so that we could get maximum benefit from the trip. We would see each other on the day trips and we’d have a good-old catch-up, laugh about our Exchange families, and enjoy the sights of the city. On the way back home we were on the coach and Liam started to get very tearful. He really didn’t want to be going home. He felt unloved, unliked, unwanted and knew that he was going to have an awful time back “home”. I sat there and listened. I held him close and comforted him. When we arrived back at the school he said to me “Thank you, you’re the best friend I’ve ever had.” Those were Liam’s last words to me. He took his own life three days later.
When I heard the news I was numb, devastated, shocked, traumatised and angry. Angry at myself for “not doing more”, angry at Liam’s family for making his life hell, angry at God for taking my best friend away…just…angry. I was then inconsolable - my poor mum didn’t know how to cope with me. I went through all the natural reactions to this kind of thing. Things started to change after a while but even to this day I’ve never gotten over it. The thing is, you never really do get over it. Generally speaking as time goes on things get a bit easier, and you find that certain triggers lose their impact; but the fact is…you’re going to miss them forever. I don’t think that this is a problem in and of itself, as long as you don’t wallow in the grief.
Try Dedicating A Day
One way of finding comfort when someone passes is dedicating a day to them. It’s the only day of the year I will listen to a certain song, go to a specific place and generally just talk to Liam as if he’s with me now. Letting go of the grief, or situation, is not always helpful - but moving on with your life is. Moving on doesn’t mean finding a new partner or a new best friend - but it does mean you don’t let the grief take over your life. Moving on is in no way disrespectful to the memory of the deceased; in fact it is possibly one of the best ways of honouring the person. As I said earlier grieving never ends, missing someone never goes away and moving on doesn’t mean forgetting. The dear departed will always be a big part of your life and if you ever do find a new partner they will respect and accept that.
While I understand the concept of letting someone go and in some situations it can be helpful, I don’t think that by letting them go it means you’re forgetting about them. Nor do I think that you should put a time limit on “being okay”. You’ll find some things go back to some semblance of normality very quickly, but other times you’ll get moments when things come flooding back and it’s very emotional. That’s more than okay too! Remember that because someone you love is in heaven it means there’s a little bit of heaven in your home - and a great big piece in your heart! If you don’t believe in heaven, that’s absolutely fine, just keep them in your heart and in your conversations. One day at a time, one moment at a time, one step at a time. Take your time!
A Piece Of The Jigsaw Is Missing
When someone dies it can feel like a large piece of the family (or friendship) jigsaw is missing. This is a natural response but the thing about jigsaws is that there is nearly always a picture to help you complete it, or if a piece is missing help you remember what the complete picture looked like. Although the puzzle may be now incomplete and that makes you sad, the fact you had the jigsaw complete at one point, you have the image to cherish the memories. Memories are so important, especially happy ones. Focus on the good times not the tragic. Focus on the happy memories not the illness. Focus on your life, not theirs. Their physical body may be no more, but as long as you talk about them and keep them in your heart (while doing all you can in your own life) their legacy will live on and that has to be a beautiful way to live and honour.