Continuing bonds with our deceased loved ones is a concept I have never heard. I’ve heard of closure and how we need that when someone dies, but I learned something new the other day that helped to open my eyes and look at things a little differently.
I went for my first grief counselling session. It’s so hard to believe that it has been seven months since my sister and nephew were killed in that tragic car accident last summer. Seven months since my life took an unbelievable, tragic turn and my heart was shattered. It felt at the time like I couldn’t survive it. Some days I still can’t believe they’re gone and I feel like it’s all a dream. I am beginning to feel closer to normal most days, for whatever that means. My new normal as I have heard it said. Does this mean I’ve accepted it? Is it finally sinking in and the shock is wearing off? I suppose these statements might all be true.
It’s also hard to believe that it’s taken seven months for me to see a grief counsellor. It seems accidental overdose’s are on the rise in this area and that makes me sad for those families. It’s heartbreaking that there is so much grief to go around these days and I realize that as painful as my situation is, I am not the only one in pain. We are all walking through this wilderness together.
One of the subjects that came up during my grief session was closure. How does one reach closure after tragically losing not just one, but two people they loved? You don’t close the door, walk away, and end the relationship. That just won’t happen, at least for me. I suppose it might for some people, or they believe that they should, because this is what society believes. Maybe that’s why they struggle so much with their grief and finding their new normal. What can happen, rather than closure is what’s called ‘continuing bonds’. This made much more sense to me.
Since the death of my sister, who I was very close to, I began to wonder almost immediately, ‘How can I honour her memory?’ ‘How do I make sure she’s not forgotten?’ That was probably my biggest concern. I believe both Lacie and Kyle deserve so much more than to be remembered for the way they died. They deserve to be remembered for the way they lived. I also wondered ‘How can I keep Lacie’s spirit alive and continue to connect with her?’
There are a few different ways that I am doing all of these things.
1. I make bracelets similar to the bracelets that Lacie made when she was alive. I spread a message of Inspiring Love, which is a message I believe she would have wanted.
2. I talk to her often and I ask for help from both her and Kyle. I pay attention to the signs they send. Sometimes I notice them, and sometimes I am so busy or distracted that I don’t, but I know they are always there.
3. I write in my journal – letters to Lacie, sharing bits of my life. I share my joys, my concerns, my pain, and triumphs.
4. I meditate. This is a really important step for me that might not seem immediately obvious to some. Meditation helps me to stay grounded and to create a space within myself. A space where my grief can flow through without becoming stuck with nowhere to go. I learn to open up and pay attention to what’s going inside and outside of myself. It helps me notice what I would not otherwise notice when I am busy and distracted, and to feel peace and calm through an otherwise chaotic process.
5. I ask for help when I need it. Sometimes the pain becomes too great and I lose sight of the shore. I forget the tools I have at my disposal and I give in to the pain until it almost consumes me. In these moments it is so important to ask for help. There is no shame in this. Allowing myself to receive the help I need allows me to get back on track, to feel centered and whole again. It allows me to continue the bonds and not close the door.
6. And finally I read. I read a lot, especially books on grief so that I can understand this process and what to expect. So I can know that what I am feeling is normal. Reading books on grief, or any books on healing and spirituality will help to connect with your emotions and learn from what is happening. The best thing you can do for yourself is to be open to learning. If you are looking for books about grief, one of the best book I have read so far is Understanding Your Grief – Ten Essential Touchstones For Finding Hope and Healing Your Heart, by Dr. Alan Wolfelt.
All of these things help me. Not to close the door on our relationship, but to continue it. To help me see, hear, and feel both of them.
They are not here in body and there are certainly days I really miss them both. I think about the things I miss by not having them here physically, and the many things I will miss moving forward. I also know that their spirits are very much here. I know that they are alive and working behind the scenes on my behalf.
Although I have never heard of the concept of continuing bonds before, it would seem that I’ve been doing this without even realizing it. Whether it is my own intuition, a need to stay close to my sister, or Lacie and Kyle whispering in my ear, possibly all of the above, I am doing what is necessary to help myself heal in a healthy way.
If you are grieving and trying to find a way through your grief, I encourage you to try doing something that will help you feel close to your loved one. Continue your bonds, and when you have those moments and it feels as though they are with you, or you can hear them, don’t second guess this. Don’t let others tell you it’s all in your head. It’s not!
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