If you’re reading this, it’s very likely that you’ve experienced the passing of a loved one. It could be a spouse or partner, a child, a parent, a friend, or anyone with whom you had a relationship. The bond that we develop with other humans from a place of love is a beautiful thing, but can feel like a double-edged sword when they pass away. One thing people often ask is, does love die or does it just change forms? Today, I’d like to talk to you about love after death, and give you 5 tips on how to understand the shift.
Does love die, or does it change form?
This is a highly personal question, and you may have a different answer. For me, I believe it changes form. The energy of the love shifts from being a back-and-forth flow, or a tethered connection, to being contained in the self.
Whenever there is a change, you would be hard pressed to find a lack of metamorphosis in the affected person, place, or thing. One of the bigger examples people often think of when it comes to metamorphosis is the caterpillar into a butterfly. That’s a very distinct and visible change.
The changes around love after the death of someone we treasure is different. Love is not a tangible thing; we can see the effect of love, but we cannot see the energy of it. We can feel it, but it is unique to each relationship we have. And when it changes, we feel that as well.
#1: Your Grief is Legitimate
If you or someone you know has lost a loved one, you’re going to hear people comment on the amount of time that has passed and how they think the grieving person should feel at this point in time. Humans are empathetic creatures, but we also come with a set of expectations around how someone should behave and feel, and often apply pressure so that others will conform to those expectations.
Remember that you feel how you feel. There will be times, no matter how long it has been since they’ve gone, that the wave of grief hits you like it is brand-new. That is okay. It is expected. You should never feel obligated to mask your feelings.
#2: A Mental Exercise
Imagine your heart, soul, and mind as a vast mansion. The rooms represent all of the people, places, and events that have left a lasting impression on you. Each one is unique, filled with the sights, sounds, smells, and emotions that are tied to the reason for the creation of the room.
When it comes to loving someone, we create a room for them in our beings that is full of the time we shared with them. Once they’re gone, that room doesn’t disappear; it doesn’t get replaced, filled with different memories, or boarded up. There’s no renovation or redecorating. Nothing can take away the beautiful space that was created from love, and to me, that is a comfort.
#3: Share the love
I often liken emotions to the ocean. It’s vast, always in motion, and is full of beautiful and mysterious things. It has the ability to carry you to far away places, or even knock you down with a powerful wave.
Sharing the memories of your loved one is sharing the love you have for them. You cannot give it all away, much like a child with a pail cannot empty the ocean. When I speak of my son, my brother, my mother, or my father, I am not taking away from the emotions I have for them. I’m reinforcing the memory and the bond, spreading their thoughts, feelings, traditions, and beliefs. One great example of this is the Thanksgiving fruit and flower centerpiece my mother would always have, which I recreate each year.
#4: It’s okay to be okay
It’s important to remember that you will never be betraying the memory of a loved one by being okay. Your love for them is not measured in tears, pain, or in a lack of joy. Your love for them is not increased by suffering.
You are not required to prove to anyone, even yourself, how much you love them by how deep your grief is. There may be expectations from other people around this side of grief, too. Surround yourself with people who allow you to be authentically you.
And remember, it’s okay to express your grief by celebrating their life. Include them in holidays, talk about them, and even write them letters when you feel like you would share with them were they still on this plane of existence.
#5: Get support
There are a number of options for support. You can choose to reach out to someone you trust, get one-on-one counseling, or even seek out a local support group. These days, you can get therapy right on your computer via Zoom by booking time with a therapist, or using a service like Teladoc.
I have several resources on the site, such as this Free Resource page, and this Navigating the Ocean of Emotion Audio Program. The goal of Integrated Wellbeing Institute is to help you move into Radiant Living, and I hope these resources will help you do just that!
Take a moment today to think about how your love has shifted, and what tips you could offer someone from your personal experience. Feel free to share it below!
Love all around, above, below, to the left and to the right, before you and behind you,
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Great article, Georgena! Right on point (as always). I lost my dad last November