Paula Shaw is a leading expert in assisting people who are dealing with profound loss and grief. This blog explores the connection between grief and death, and how we as humans process our emotions during life's most trying event.
When you say the word grief most people automatically think of death. We all know that when there is a death, there is grief. Grief and Death are inseparably connected…and rightly so because grief is the normal, natural response to loss and as we explored in last weeks blog, all loss incorporates the death or ending of the hopes and dreams, circumstances, or trust in a given situation. No matter what the loss, whether it’s the loss of your spouse, your animal, your home, your job or your health, all loss involves a death in these three areas.
Let’s explore an example of how this looks with the loss of divorce. This loss affects 50% of all marriages. When a divorce occurs it creates a death of the dreams that both people walked down the aisle with. It leads to the death of the circumstances of living together as man and wife and it also encompasses a death of the trust that both people once had in each other and in the marriage.
We can see this from a little different perspective when examining a loss like cancer. In this scenario we would have a death of the dreams that the patient had about how his health would be throughout life, a death of the trust once held in God or in the belief that if you do the right things your body will be healthy and resistant to disease. Then, of course, there is the death of the circumstances of living for a long time in a vibrant, healthy body. Once again, no matter what the loss, it will encompass a death of hopes and dreams, trust and circumstances.
Death Isn’t Really All That Final
All loss encompasses death but not necessarily in the literal sense. It’s death in the sense of an ending of something, not in the demise of a physical body. That being said let me tease your brain a little further and say something that might sound like it borders on heresy. Here goes: Perhaps death isn’t really an ending either! What? Why on earth would I say something so ridiculous? Well, perhaps because it’s actually true. Death isn’t really all that final!
Ok, I know it sounds like I’ve cashed in my ‘sanity card,’ but give me a minute. Let’s see if we can stretch our minds just a little and look at death in a new, more accurate way.
We have been taught that the word death is synonymous with the word ending and so a death can’t help but be a negative, painful experience. As a rule, we humans don’t like endings. When a circumstance we are comfortable with no longer exists, we view it as undesirable, an ending of something we were content with.
But in a very real sense, while death does feel like an ending, it is also a beginning of a new state or circumstance. This is actually true in a very literal sense because Quantum Physics has taught us that energy cannot be created or destroyed; it can only be changed. All the energy that ever has been or ever will be in our Universe is here right now. We can’t make more and we can’t destroy what we have. We can only change the form of what is here.
This change of form has happened innumerable times since the beginning of life on this planet. But the truth is, that the same energy that animated the dinosaurs, that enabled Homo Erectus to stand upright and walk, that fueled the primordial jungles covering the planet, that up heaved ancient lake bottoms and volcanic cores to form mountain ranges; that same energy that powered Genghis Kahn across the plains, that enabled King Henry the eighth to fall in love with yet another wife, that sent rockets into space and healed Civil Rights issues; that same energy is still here. The energy that enabled Einstein, Di Vinci, Jesus and Buddha to change the way that man would think, for all time, is still here!
This is such an exciting thought but what I am about to tell you is even more exciting. If energy can’t be destroyed, if it can only change form, then there is no death, there is no real ending; there is only change or transition to another form or format. Bottom line: there is no death; only transition, so what we have called death up until now, is actually just the opening of a door to a new circumstance.
With this in mind, I am making an adjustment to our earlier discussion. What we would more accurately say is that all loss creates a change in, or transition of, dreams, trust and circumstances.
If we could truly integrate the understanding that nothing ever really dies we might have an easier time of walking through grief.
Of course this intellectual knowledge doesn’t soothe the pain of no longer having that being or circumstance in our lives in a concrete way, but once the initial pain has been felt and expressed, we might find the time on the healing journey much easier, if we could only see it as a time to adjust to the new reality. That doesn’t mean that it would be without pain but it would certainly be easier to view our selves as making an adjustment to new circumstances rather than a devastating loss. This kind of reframe would bring us closer to what actually is. If we humans could only become better at celebrating change rather than dreading it, we could transform the experience of loss and death in our lives.
In next weeks piece we will explore why change is so hard and why grief over change, is the most difficult emotional pain humans experience.
We’re officially on the count down now. June 15th, my book launch day is right around the corner. I am hopeful that all of you will get your copy that day and help me to open my book at number 1 on Amazon!
PAULA SHAW, CADC, DCEP is an author, Energy Psychology specialist, therapist, speaker, Reiki Master and Grief Counselor. For more than 20 years, Paula has been passionate about empowering people who are dealing with profound loss, so they can reap something truly beautiful from their pain. She also helps clients who are going through major life transitions or seeking freedom from self-destructive addictions. She has degrees in Education and Communications from Long Beach State University, as well as graduate counseling credentials from Loyola Marymount University. She is one of the founding members of the Association of Comprehensive Energy Psychology and currently serves on its board of directors. Paula is the auther of Chakras, the Magnificent Seven (2002), as well as the upcoming book When Will This Pain Ever End? Finding Your Way out of the Pit of Despair after Suffering Profound Grief and Loss, which will be released June 15, 2015.
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PAULA SHAW, CADC, DCEP is an author, Energy Psychology specialist, therapist, speaker, Reiki Master and Grief Counselor. For more than 20 years, Paula has been passionate about empowering people who are dealing with profound loss, so they can reap something truly beautiful from their pain. She also helps clients who are going through major life transitions or seeking freedom from self-destructive addictions. She has degrees in Education and Communications from Long Beach State University, as well as graduate counseling credentials from Loyola Marymount University. She is one of the founding members of the Association of Comprehensive Energy Psychology and currently serves on its board of directors. Paula is the author of Chakras, the Magnificent Seven (2002), as well as "Grief...When Will This Pain Ever End?" Finding Your Way out of the Pit of Despair After Profound Loss.
Former Blog Archive
Thank you for reading Paula's Blog. Because our site moved in June, we were unable to transfer all of our blog posts over. You can however, read the rest of them by visiting our old blog site. HERE