Dealing with the loss of a loved one

Written by James Dear

This blog follows my life through drug addiction, anxiety and life's challanges. I cover my own experiences as well as the loss of several friends to suicide. I want to share my knowledge in the hope that we can save lives and all live a happier and more fulfilled life.

December 19, 2019

If you are reading this then you have probably lost someone incredibly dear to you and l extend my deepest condolences to you, sending all the strength and love that I possess.

I myself and many others reading this have recently lost someone incredibly dear to them, adding to a long list of devastating tragedies. These tragedies (not all of which have been suicide but the mojariy have) have gone beyond an anomaly, to what is now, disturbingly, becoming a norm in many of our worlds. I have spoken many times about preventing such tragedies but what I have not yet talked about is the devastation and despair that is left behind. 

Quite often when someone is suicidal it is explained to them that “suicide won’t end the suffering, it will simply pass it on to those around you and those that love you the most.” These ideas are easy to grasp yet can seem quite abstract in a poor frame of mind. Having been through my own experiences losing friends and observing those who have lost friends and family members, including children and partners I have had a small glimpse into the world is left behind. Many people have found loved ones after they have taken their life and those that have not have imagined it. This in most cases causes P.T.S.D. and life changing anxiety that is disabling and forces people into isolation, preventing them from being able to function in the world. It is like a hand grenade went off with everyone you know was in the room and everyone you love is full of shrapnel. Now each and every one of these people gets sent on an emotional roller coaster with different twists, loops ups and downs depending on their relationship and attachment, going through various degrees of anger, frustration, sadness, confusion, fake happiness etc leading them to isolation and feeling like they are alone and that no one knows how they feel. 

Here are some of the common emotions and processes that it is completed normal to go through when this happens.

One of the most common things that we experience in this circumstance is guilt. We wonder what we could have done to prevent it from happening. Some feel a deep sense of frustration and anger towards others and often we blame ourselves. We forget that there are limits to what we can do to help others relieve their pain. We are so tangled up in the life that we have created that we don’t have the time to be constantly watching peoples’ every move. The realisation is that we can’t control others and we must release ourselves from the guilt of believing that we could have prevented it. If I know one thing about human beings it is that we can easily get lost in our trivial self-centred pursuits but when the cards are on the table, and it matters most, we always try our best.

We spend a long time wondering why it happened, attempting to put a sense of control back on a seemingly unpredictable world. Ultimately many realise that they may never truly know. 

In the case of suicide it takes a persons life against their will, it manifests the same amount of emotional energy as cancer, having a heart attack, or having a stroke. Suicide is an illness and as with any sickness we can love someone and still not be able to save that person from death. 

It appears that any person who dies by suicide or drug overdoses can no longer tolerate their pain and suffering. Most don’t intend to leave behind a wake of pain and destruction. They are simply searching for a way out of an unbearable struggle. 

If you have been affected by this you have probably been told that time will heal you and this might be true but you have to ask yourself if you are going to allow yourself to feel good again. I know that when you lose someone dear to you, you are expected to be a certain way by society. You are expected to be miserable and to aim to be anything other than that seems wrong. That idea will hold you in misery and suffering forever and that was certainly not the fate that our lost loved ones would have ever wanted for us. 

It is common to feel a lot of anger towards ourselves, toward those who we have lost and even towards specialists that have tried to help. Whilst this might not be ideal there is no right and wrong way to grieve, so do not feel guilty for this. Anger is actually a more prgressive state to be in than depression because the lower we get the more we start to send those emotions inward and our own life can be at risk. Over time feelings of anger will disperse. Anger is directly related to forgiveness and accepting our lack of control over the situation.

Some of these points are referenced from the vast amount of useful information on allianceofhope.org. 

Whilst I find that psychological and observational information is very important for identifying that what you are feeling is absolutely normal, and that others in your position are going through a very similar experience to you, the information alone is not going to help to fill the hole that you have in your heart. 

I would like to tell you about an experience that I had shortly after losing one of my dearest friends to suicide. 

It was the night after I discovered that my friend had left his body. I was full of emotions and incredibly mixed up still in a state of shock, angry, sad and confused… I was driving down the road in my van, it was late at night as I drove along, it was pitch black and all I could see was a white flurry in my headlights. A storm of white butterflies flew into the middle windscreen of my van. There were so many that I could hardly see, there must have been thousands. I had to slow right down. A shiver ran through my whole body and all of my hairs stood up on end. I could feel his presence. I just knew. This was so profound and I didn’t know what to make of it. I mentioned it to one of his relatives and some of his other friends and they reported similar events with white butterflies. This was the single most profound thing that has ever happened to me in my entire life! At this point I’d be through a stages of atheism, nihilism and existential crisis and ended up accepting that I didn’t actually know anything about my own reality being as I can’t even see radio waves or wifi going through the air but it was at this point that I knew for certain that there was more to it. This was the beginning of my journey to consciously search for the truth. 

I knew that religion didn’t seem to have the answers and I didn’t didn’t really know where to look so I started to travel. My journey led me through a few different countries, through isolation and the depths of my own mental health problems, until I finally stumbled upon some people practising bhakti yoga. They introduced me to the vedic texts and scriptures of ancient india and shared the wisdom of many great yogis and teachers, comparing many different correlations and philosophies from around the world accepting many truths from all religious teachings. For the first time I found something that could give me the answers that I had been looking for. Things that I knew in my heart needed to be answered. In the Vedas it explains that we are not the body or the mind (including our thoughts), we are actually the spirit soul. That means that we do not have a soul… We are the soul. The body is just something made up from earth, fire, air and water. We exist before we enter it, then we drive it around like a car and when we are finished with it we leave it behind. Whilst we may be able to kill the body we can’t really kill our ‘self’. 

We are eternal. 

This may seem far fetched to many people but there is so much evidence out there to prove that this is true, even beyond ancient scripture and the experiences of mystics. Many children have remembered their old lives and been able to recall very specific details from their past life, including where they lived, the names of family members, their occupation and how they died. Some of them then went on to meet up with their daughter as a child. Yes this is a considerably foreign idea to any country with a Christian indoctrination but in the eastern religions this is normal and I believe that not knowing this does us an incredible disservice when it comes to dealing with our own death and the death of our loved ones. 

Here is a link to some cases of children remembering their previous lives from a credible source. With a simple google search you will be able to find endless accounts of this.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/nz/blog/feeling-too-much/201412/children-who-seemingly-remember-past-lives

Whilst you may not be able to have a physical relationship, I do believe that you will be able to have a spiritual transcendental connection, and whilst it might not be a conversation there can be a form of communication through feelings. Sometimes it can be frustrating because you try to remember things about a person and you struggle to think of anything but what you can always remember is what a person’s presence felt like and the way they made you feel. 

This is the language of the soul. 

Diving deep into this and understanding these principles is the only way I see ever being able to not just survive but to live a full life. One that most people have never experienced.

If you would like to know more about yoga philosophy, I would be more than happy to talk to you and point you in the right direction or talk to you about anything else for that matter. 

Knowing that they are not really gone forever, and that it is perhaps we are completely unaware of the bigger picture, hopefully we can move through our grief with a little more comfort and shift our perspective. There are only two ways to look at any situation. From a seat of love (focusing on what we do have), or from a seat of fear (focusing on what we do not have). 

When I lose a dear friend I commit myself to doing everything that they wanted to do. To live for them here and now. To take on all of their best qualities and to be everything that I loved about them so that I know for sure that the world is not without it! There is no doubt that the physical loss may be one of the most painful and tragic events of your life, you might believe that they don’t know how you feel or can’t see you but I wouldn’t be so sure.  

One thing that I realised is that through my experiences I had learnt a set of skills that have led me here to this very sentence. I don’t want people to have to go through what I have been through and I am sure that you do not want them to go through what you’ve been through either. I dedicate this to their memories so that their light can live on through this and go on to touch the hearts of others as they so dearly touched ours. The connection that I have experienced through this process is the medicine that I needed and it can be yours too!

Here’s my process:

  1. Allow yourself to do and be whatever you need to do. Laugh, cry, shout, scream. Don’t resist it otherwise the resistance will hold you there.

2. Keep something of theirs with you at all times. I have a picture in my wallet and their warmth in my heart. 

3. Connect with friends and people who were also close to them. One of the most beautiful memories of my life was getting together with their family and friends. We laughed and we cried a tonne, but we did it together and it was one of the most intense connections that I have ever experienced in my life. Going through this alone could not have been an option for me, I am simply not strong enough. As human beings we are designed to be stronger together. If you don’t feel comfortable or have the strength to do this seek out an organisation that can help you through this or where you can meet up with strangers in similar situations such as.. Allianceofhope.org.  This is essential!

4. Create a living reminder – plant a tree or something that’s living. This can help you to hold precious memories and maintain a connection.

5. Do something or start something in their name – That is exactly what I did and it has been the thing that has helped me most. I know people who run charity events in their loved ones names and it appears to do them a lot of good whilst providing a wonderful service. In a world that is in such a state of despair you are needed more than ever. 

  • Over one million people die by suicide worldwide each year.
  • On average, one person dies by suicide every 40 seconds somewhere in the world.
  • 1.8% of worldwide deaths are suicides.

6. Host an event on their birthday to spend time sharing photographs, stories and memories, light some candles or prepare their favourite foods – this can be one of the hardest times or the year for people suffering the loss of a loved one. Connecting on these days is the most important and can turn a traumatic experience into a loving one. Our loved ones are no longer present in physical form, but they are still very much a part of the family.

7. Live your best life – Live the life that they would want you to live, live life to the fullest with their memory in your heart. Let them live through your conversations, let them live through your hugs, let them live through your laugher, let them live through your brush strokes, let them live through all forms of expression.

    Forever in your heart

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4 Comments

  1. Kerry Cochran

    Wow James. Thanks for this so spot on xxxx

    Reply
  2. jamesdear0048

    I’m pleased you think so Kerry 🙂 I had you as a consideration whilst writing this xxxx

    Reply
  3. Anna

    A really moving peice James x

    Reply

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