One of the most striking features of soap operas is that the characters never seem to be scarred by their tragedies. They live through illnesses, miscarriages, adultery, multiple divorces, and deaths but, the next year, they move on seemingly unscathed. We’re willing to suspend disbelief because the fiction is so satisfying, so comforting, so unlike real life.
In our real world, tragedies and losses affect us deeply and profoundly. We may eventually ‘move on’, so to speak, but we do not forget the past and we certainly do not remain untouched. Our losses affect us irrevocably. When a loved one dies, the deepest loss of all, a part of us dies too and life will never, ever be the same again.
One griever told me that three years after her adult daughter died, she was having a bad day and found herself depressed and sad. She called a friend hoping to find a sympathetic ear but instead was assaulted by the exclamation, “You mean you’re still grieving over her, after three years?”
Grieving is not a short-term process; it’s not even a long-term process; it’s a lifelong process. Our grief becomes incorporated into our life history, it becomes part of our identity. We will continue now, and forever, to redefine our relationships with our deceased loved ones. Death doesn’t end the relationship, it simply forges a new type of relationship, one based on memory, spirit, and love.
Extracted and Abridged from the book
“Transcending Loss: Understanding the Lifelong Impact of Grief and How to Make it Meaningful”
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