It’s a myth, you know.  It is a myth that there are stages to grief and you can hop through one at a time.

The truth is that grief through losing a loved one goes through ebbs and flows.  Grief can begin even before our loved one crosses to the Spirit side of life.  And it is not just our loved one that we say goodbye to.  Grief includes all of the events that should have been but will not.  It includes the promises left unfulfilled.  And, through all of this, we are left with words left unsaid.  Or maybe even words that we wish we had said better.

We all do the best that we can with what we have got, in life and in death.  As a Medium, I have been blessed to witness the messages that our loved ones pass forward.  Often it is sentiments of gratitude, love and pride.  Sometimes, it is to acknowledge how hard it was to not have the right words to bring comfort through a transition.  Too often loved ones do not have the words to express the quagmire of emotions flowing within.

One thing that has been shared time and again is that hearing is the last sense to leave the physical body.  Our loved ones are listening.

They are listening, however “what do we say?”

Our Spirit People understand the discomfort left with the living.  Spirit has the ability to communicate in many ways, and not be bound by awkward social norms.  They come forward with love and compassion.

So, what do we say to those who are torn internally from grief?  What about when we too are grieving?

There is no simpler answer other than we show kindness.

Grief can not be compared.  Showing sadness and struggling with the transition of a loss is not a sign or strength or weakness.  It is a natural, human emotion.  There is no timeline or appropriate way to move through it.  Grief shows up differently for everyone, every time.  Compound grief and trauma also play a role.  It can be difficult to find the right words to say.

Here are some suggestions of words, conversations starters and ways to validate feelings. These have been shared by clients, family and my own experiences.  They are not exclusive and I invite you to think of some to add.
  1.  “So, how did he/she die?” – Often those left in the living have to spend a lot of time talking about the how, when really, all they want is to remember their loved one for their life, not their death.  – Instead, we can ask “How can I best love you/support you?”  Or, “Can you do me a favour?  Could you tell me a funny story/a favourite memory about …?”  Allowing these happy or silly or funny memories to come forward, we raise the vibration from sadness to the joy or essence that they carried in life.

2.  Suicide can be a difficult topic to discuss, especially when it comes without warning.  Often the family does not understand the why and there are many questions.  Too often there is shame and guilt added to the equation.  “…took the easy way out.”  No, there was not anything easy about their choice or their action.  This also does not bring comfort to the grieving loved ones.

No situation is the same, and everyone is on their own journey.  I have however found some things to come forward as patterns.  Boys often share that they did not think it would actually lead to death or that it was an accident.  Men share that they felt trapped.  Girls have told me that they wanted the big feelings to stop.  Women often feel a burden to their family.  None want their family and friends to suffer and many are surprised that their physical death impacted so many.  Boys want messages to get to their Moms.  Women often want to reach out to their girlfriends and soul family.

Some things that we can do or say to bring forward comfort are, “How can we best celebrate….?” or “I can not imagine how you are feelings right now.  I want to support you and do not know how.  May I just sit with you and if you want to talk we can, or if you want to just sit we can do that too?”  Authenticity goes a long way.  It is okay to share that you do not have words or do not know what to do.  Just being present and holding space is enough.

3.  “You are moving on pretty quick!” – Instead of sharing judgement of time, we can say “I imagine it must have been a long road for you too.  Sometimes things begin long before the rest of the world notices.  How are you doing?” 

I remember years ago when my Grammie passed away.  My “Grump” was beside himself with grief and not knowing what to do.  One night he met a friend of my Aunt’s, and he danced and he laughed and he found comfort.  She quickly moved in, and our family struggled.  Fast forward to when Grump was preparing to “graduate” to the Spirit Side.  Grammie came to me in a dream.  She came forward, not with excitement to see Grump again, but to scold me and the rest of our family.  She taught me a valuable lesson in that visitation.  Grief happens long before the loss of the physical body.  Grump had been grieving the loss of his wife and best friend for years, not months before he met his new wife.  By everyone being angry about his choices, he lost his family in addition to his wife.

4.  “My Aunt/Brother/Whoever died of xyz too.  i understand what you are going through.” 

No…you do not. 

You my find that  similar passing brings up in you unhealed grief that would still like to be held and addressed.  It will be different from the current passing though, and this is not the time to share experiences, unless requested and both parties find comfort in it.  This is a call for your own healing.  This is a great time to reach out to your supports and to the grieving family member or friend, sharing what helped you most through actions rather than words can make a huge difference.  Examples could include meals fresh or for the freezer; offering to help gather photos or make a slide show; setting a timer in your phone 3 and 6 weeks out to bring coffee or check in.  The first two weeks are a blur and everyone comes forward.  Often it is the weeks and months that follow that are the most challenging.

5.  “It was just a cat/dog/hamster…”  Grief around pets can be even more difficult than death of a human.  Our pets are our companions, healers and confidants.  This passing can be even more difficult when the humans have to make tough decisions due to health and wellbeing.  There is a medium in Lily Dale, named Rev. Janice Dreshman, and I will be eternally grateful to her for this next suggestion.  I always struggled with saying “I/You had to put your pet down.”  Having experienced that difficult decision with “Amber the Cat” and my best friend, Rosie, knowing the ache I felt, those words sound and feel condemning.  Jan uses the best words possible for this.  “I/You loved them into Heaven.”  Human or pet, making the decision to end a life is not easy.  It is about loving them the best that we can with the information that we are given by professionals.  It is a difficult place to be in addition to the grief experienced.

Let’s keep this conversation going.  Death has been an uncomfortable topic for too long.  It is normal and natural.  I love you xo

Sam Black
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