While driving down the street the other day, I passed a building where my deceased cousin had worked. Even though he has been dead for several years, my grief returned, as though he had just died. Grief is a strange phenomenon. You never know what might take you back to that dark place.
Having experienced many deaths of people close to me, I am often reminded of how very final death is. I know that’s over stating the obvious, but until one loses a loved one, I don’t think they profoundly experience its finality.
Several years ago, a nine-year-old boy was referred to me, because he was threatening to kill his teacher. I was apprehensive about meeting him. Although he was very young, clearly, threatening to kill someone is not to be taken lightly. When we met, I was surprised to see what an innocent looking boy he was. He treated me with respect and there was no hint of the boy I had heard about before our meeting.
One day, I asked him if he knew what it meant to be dead. He said that he didn’t know. I told him that it meant that he would never see his mother, father or siblings again. He wouldn’t be able to play his favorite games, or be with his friends. He would never see television shows he liked, or eat his favorite foods. His eyes widened as I explained this to him. When I was finished, I asked him if he knew this. And he said no.
I was left to wonder if seeing numerous violent television shows or films desensitizes people. Additionally, young people see an actor die in a TV show or a film only to see them resurrected in another show or movie. How confusing this must be for youngsters. It is difficult enough for grownups to fully process the concept of death. Imagine how strange this must be for children who cannot fully comprehend death.
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So, whether or not we believe in eternal life, the fact remains that here on earth, an irreparable and tremendous void is left when a loved one dies. It’s vitally important to be able to process one’s grief, in order to move through it. And, even if we have processed it, it doesn’t mean we won’t be revisited by it from time to time.