May 29, 2024


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Two Kinds of Grief

Over the last 16 years, I have noticed Hospice families deal with the loss of their loved one in a couple of ways. There are those who mourn deeply their loss. And, there are those who grieve with hope. Both will lead you to the same place inside your being. Therefore, I do not want to imply that one way of grieving is better than the other.

As a loved one passes or is close to the end of their physical life, families begin to find themselves at a loss. The ability to talk to their loved one diminishes. The ability to take a walk with him or her falls away. The ability to share a meal, a memory, and countless other experiences fade into past memories. These past memories become alive inside those who can no longer create new experiences with their loved one who is dying.

This regression into one’s imagination and one’s heart reveals experiences that come alive inside one’s soul. Here, souls join one another on a journey that has no beginning or an end. This part of a relationship is eternal and sacred. They are the inspirational moments allowing a story to be formed and shared. As such, a sacred memory becomes a living presence inside those who have shared them.

I have noticed two kinds of grief in dealing with Hospice families dealing with the loss of their loved ones. One is mourning. The other is grieving with hope.

Mourning is a deep heartfelt experience of loss. This is a kind of grief that expresses itself in the body on an emotional level. The body may become flushed, weakened, very tearful, and much more.

It is good to allow space for deep seeded grief to express itself. This cleanses toxic emotions needing to express themselves through the body. As a person finds expression for their grief, a feeling of relief relaxes the body over a period of time.

Grieving with Hope is faith based. This usually means that a person believes he or she will meet their loved one in heaven again someday. This kind of hope can be comforting in the moment. Later, a person may feel his or her loss when their loved one doesn’t come home with them at their death.

Although a faith based grief has its strength, it does not make everything ok. There is still a feeling of loss on an emotional level. The heart knows something is different and nothing will be the same again.

Our bodies were created to express themselves “even” in grief. In Sacred Texts of many kinds, we find the encouragement to find “peace in the midst of despair” or “blessed are they who mourn for they shall be comforted.” Both of these statements reveal a connection to our faith in a higher being who will give us healing through the path of loss, and into, a sacred journey into the soul where our relationships are eternal.

This journey is taken through and inside the body. It is the journey into the same breath that gives us life and leads us home at the moment our body releases that breath in death. It is a sacred path leading us into who we really are.

Samuel Oliver, author of, “What the Dying Teach Us: Lessons on Living”