VII. Don't Feel Guilty If You Feel a Sense of Relief
"I loved my daughter so much. She was so terribly sick for so
long. Yet, now that she is dead, I sometimes feel so relieved that's she's
no longer in pain and I don't have to worry about her anymore. I am free
from any responsibility. But I feel so guilty when I say this."
For this relief much thanks. Tis bitter cold,
And I am sick at heart.
One emotion that may surprise you is relief. Perhaps her excruciating
torment is over and she is at peace. Perhaps she depended upon you so much
and now there is a sense of reprieve to know that you are no longer encumbered.
It is perfectly appropriate to feel relieved at the same time you are
feeling devastated. The task of caring for a dying person is dreadfully
difficult. Waves of relief come and go. These emotions are normal; you are
not calloused and uncaring. You need not feel guilty. The prolonged
is past and you have been released from an all-consuming task. Your feelings
of relief are well earned.
VIII. Don't End Your Search for Finding Meaning in Loss
"I feel so useless, so helpless. If only I could do something
to make my loved one's memory mean something to others."
"Those who bring sunshine to others cannot keep it from themselves."
-- Sir James Barrie
You, who have experienced grief, are better able to understand the grief
of others. You can be a wounded healer reaching out to others who are experiencing
similar circumstances. Sharing is healing, and you help when you share.
Reach out. In relating to others, you start to let go of that terrible
emptiness in your own heart. You take the focus off yourself. You reinvest
in others. Reaching out makes you feel needed, wanted, important. Others
need your understanding and compassion. You are the expert; you have been
there. You are not alone in undergoing pain and crisis. One touch of sorrow
makes the whole world kin.
In Jewish literature, the Dubner
Maggid has left us a parable whose wisdom can serve as a beacon of light
for your dark days:
A king once owned a large, beautiful, pure diamond of
which he was justifiably proud, for it had no equal anywhere. One day,
the diamond accidentally sustained a deep scratch. The king called in the
most skilled diamond cutters and offered them a great reward if they could
remove the imperfection from the treasured jewel. But none could repair
the blemish. The king was sorely distressed. After some time, a gifted
jeweler came to the king and promised to make the rare diamond even more
beautiful than it had been before the mishap. The king was impressed by
his confidence and entrusted the precious stone to his care. With superb
artistry, he engraved a lovely rosebud around the imperfection and he used
the scratch to make the stem.
When a loved one dies and life's bruises wound you, you can use the scratches
to etch a portrait of meaning and purpose for others. Through your own life,
you will prolong their memories.
IX. Don't End Your Search for Growth and Purpose
"I hurt so much, Will I ever find peace?"
That which does not kill me makes me stronger.
-- Fredrich Nietzsche
Pain, loss and separation can lead you to growth, or they can destroy
your life. Death brings you this choice. It can lead you to the edge of
the abyss, but you can build a bridge that will span the chasm.
Now that you've encountered loss, you may see life differently. When
someone you love dies, you confront your own mortality. Knowing how brief
life can be might encourage you to try to make your own life more meaningful
Now that you've encountered loss, you may be looking more deeply into
your own beliefs. What had been significant may now appear trivial. You
may set new priorities and redefine your needs. Growing is knowing not only
where you have been, but what you are searching for.
Now that you've encountered loss, you may have a different understanding
of the meaning of love. You realize that loving others doesn't diminish
your love for the one who died. Love doesn't die; people do. Grief begins
with a terrible and lonely loss.
Grief changes you but it is not destroying you. Grief is a powerful teacher.
"Who are You?" said the Caterpillar. Alice replied, rather
shyly, "I hardly know, Sir, just at present-- at least I know who
I was when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed
several times since then."
How different you are now. Nothing in life had prepared you for this
tragedy. Like Alice, you have had to make many changes to adjust to your
Take small steps and take pride in your small victories. Your love for
the person has made your life richer by what you have shared. Your growth
in the midst of your pain can bear fruit in your spirit and make you all