By Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD
Death ends a life, not a relationship.
- Mitch Albom, Tuesdays with Morrie
I recently learned about the deaths of a few people; no one close to me, but I felt sad anyway. So, it struck me when I came across the above quote. From my own losses and from those of people I have helped through grief, I know for a fact that what Morrie said could not be more true.
There’s no magical, easy way to get through the loss of someone close. And honestly, I don’t know what that would even look like. Grief can engulf you, but I would never want to wish it away for anyone. Grief is exactly what we need to feel when someone close to us dies. It’s our heartfelt way of saying, I appreciate having had you in my life; I miss you; and Good-bye.
Yet, as Morrie so aptly said, death is not the end of a relationship. And when you really know this in your heart, you are the better for it. Not only do you carry your loved one within you, but you also realize much more. Your life is different than it would have been without that person. You are changed from your experiences together. And, you can always re-connect through your memories. All of these are part of how your relationship has affected you – and continues to affect you.
You won’t leave your grief behind, though the sharpness will likely ease a bit with time. Instead, you must find a way to live with it. You can learn to respect your sadness as an expression of the loss you’ve endured. At the same time, you can also appreciate the great gift of having known – of having loved – that person. In the end, you will hopefully recognize the blessing that this loved one brought to your life.
It’s ironic that when someone dies, a part of you dies with them and a part of them lives on with you. As Morrie suggested, when someone dies, your relationship with them lives on.
If your grief feels too much to bear; if you can’t imagine embracing the ideas I’ve set forth here, try talking with someone who you think can relate to your pain. You may find healing in sharing your grief with someone who has walked the painful path you are now on.
If you would like to join a general discussion about this topic on the Relationships and Coping Community, click here.