We live in a culture that’s not very good at helping us face the death of a loved one. A friend’s beloved father just died yesterday. Knowing that I’d already faced a lot of death, just a year ago she asked if I had any words of wisdom to help her deal with what she knew was coming. I sent her an email sharing a few thoughts. Today, she emailed me to say that she’d kept that email and reread it many times over the past year. She expressed thanks for how much it had helped her and asked that I share it in the off chance it may help someone else.

M–,

You may already know all of what I have to say. I won’t worry about what you know–if you already know it and I share similar sentiments, it can’t hurt to have those reinforced. If some are new thoughts to you, maybe they can help. So I’ll just ramble on for a bit…

When experiencing loss of any magnitude, we all go through a stage of raw emotion; the roller coaster of composure and insanity. I believe this is because the energy body is rearranging itself around a new configuration. When we’ve been one energy pattern for so long, it’s quite uncomfortable to experience being suddenly shifted into a new pattern that feels like it’s being blown full of holes.

At least initially, it feels overwhelmingly incomprehensible, inconceivable, unbearable.

Some people find themselves going in and out of a kind of haze, not really sure of what they feel. That’s a pretty common coping mechanism. When in doubt, people are inclined to find a placeholder and stand on it.

What I’ve actually found to be more productive is to let yourself fall apart. Let yourself feel what you really feel. That’s what’s been necessary for my spiritual, mental and emotional health. In the short term, it may appear quite messy to others, but I let that be their problem. It’s really important to let yourself fully experience the experience. Try not to store anything up, thinking you’ll deal with it later. Later never comes.

Yep, inevitably, the death of a loved one does set your life up to shatter. But all that can shatter is what you no longer need anyway. This may be hard to believe at the moment, but I can tell you from experience; all that can break is what is not real, what doesn’t matter, what is a waste of energy. The shattering reveals who you really are. It’s painful but this is a very good thing. Initially, you may experiences the loss as unspeakable, but eventually you’ll come to see that there is a different kind of connection that comes out of all this that will allow you to stay in touch with your father.

While you may not feel lucky at the moment, you are in fact very lucky. You have the advantage of knowing your father is getting ready to shed his physical form. You are being given a chance to say goodbye to what was. And you can begin right now to start building a new bridge to stay connected to your dad when he passes .

After my dad died, I felt the actual presence of him for quite some time, but I didn’t know what to do with that because I was misinterpreting it as a memory of him, which made me sad. But if I knew then what I know now–that I should have accepted this experience of my dad’s presence as real–I would have felt loved and not alone. What I’ve come to learn is that death does not separate. Actually, it fully joins together. Expect that up front, and that will become your experience. I can promise you that.

Suffice it to say that you’ll never lose the connection to your dad through death. That is not possible. You can lose it through depression, anger, and other human emotions.  But you can’t lose the connection through death. If anything, it sharpens and clarifies. It helps the connection because all of the distractions are removed and all that’s left is the pure connection to pure love.

On a more practical level, when you’re with your dad, share what bubbles up. If you’re worried about overwhelming him, wait until he’s asleep and then just hold his hand and talk to him like he’s your dad before age, dementia, and illness stole him. That part of him that’s still that man will hear you. And if you also let yourself listen, you’ll hear him talking back to you.

Fill yourself up while you still have him in a form that you readily understand. It will help bridge the gap for however long it will take you to rediscover how to connect to him when he’s no longer in this form.

I’m so glad you’ve reached out. Nobody should face this alone. I’m only an email, a phone call, a drive away– any time of day or night. And so is everyone else who loves you.