Dealing with the loss of a loved one, and the emotions and grief that entails, can be tough. However, there are nine important things to remember that can make these tough times that little bit easier, as the founder of the Soul Midwives movement Felicity Warner explains…
1 Listen to yourself
Honour your own needs and sense of timing as much as possible. Don’t be rushed back into everyday life.Ask for help if you need it. Seek company if you want some. Be alone if you feel like it; be busy if it helps. Sit quietly if it’s what you need. Listen to your own heart – it knows what you need to meet this change in your life.
2 Be thankful
Have a sense of gratitude for yourself and what you have done for your loved one. Often we’re thankful for the life of the person who dies, but we forget to acknowledge all we’ve done for them! Your kind words and actions had a greater impact than you can imagine.
3 Allow your feelings
Grief often has no map, no territory that is familiar, so allow yourself to feel its contours, the strangeness, not knowing, the sensation of separation, of heaviness and tiredness. You may also feel relief, freedom, relaxation, even joy! Honour these sensations. Welcome each one and let it move in and through you.
4 Acknowledge the whole of your relationship
Finding a way to say thank you for a loved one’s gifts, the ones we judge ‘good’ and ‘bad’ can help you to see the whole picture of your life together. Find a really lovely way to do it. Paint your relationship, write it, sculpt it, draw it, plant it, build it, paint it, dance it, sing it, write it. Feel it as it expresses itself through you.
5 Look for learning, not ‘getting over’
Do not expect to ‘get over’ a death and ‘get back to normal’. Instead, learn from it, lean into it, allow it to change you so you can live and love your life more deeply than before.
6 Loss is not the enemy
It comes with the territory of being human. Allow it. Welcome it to your table, make friends with it and learn its secrets.
7 Go with your flow
Grief can be a bit like giving birth – a series of contractions which can feel intense, and make you small and hard and brittle, followed by periods of softness and relaxation and a chance to rest and reflect. Allow both to teach you. What is your experience showing you? How can you be with this? What would love do here?
8 Dare to let it break you
The death of your loved one is probably one of the most ‘real’ experiences you’ll have. It takes you out of your daily routines and structure. Allow this uncomfortable truth. Don’t armour yourself against it happening again. Let it break you open and set you free.
Your loved one is still alive in your heart – look and listen for them and you will find their essence again in the most wonderful and surprising places! Create a focus for connecting to them if it helps, such as placing a picture or lighting a candle and being with them for a few minutes each day, wishing them well on their journey and sending them love and blessings. Do this for as long as you feel the need, and on birthdays or special occasions as time goes on.
About the author
Felicity Warner is founder of the Soul Midwife movement, supporting people to die a good death. She trains companions to the dying who help ease those journeying and their loved ones through the contractions of death. Her Soul Midwives come from all walks of life and offer love, comfort and support, whenever and however it is needed. She also runs the Soul Midwive’s School based in Dorset and is the author of The Soul Midwive’s Handbook.