In watching others mourn the death of a loved one, I have observed that one of the things they have lost with the death of their loved one is the sensation of being loved and the messages of love that person regularly sent them.
Those messages can be anything from “I love you” to life-affirming words of encouragement and support. Even the so-called little things that people do for one another like take them coffee in the morning or pick them up from work are forms of love messages. So they are not only mourning the death and all the obvious losses that go with it, they are mourning these losses while at the same time they have an immediate deficit of affirmations of love, support and encouragement.
If we look at love messages as part of what fuels our daily lives, we begin to understand why when someone dies we feel zapped of energy. Of course there are many, many factors that contribute to our grief and how we feel both mentally and physically. I think the absence of love messages is a contributing factor.
Understanding this is beneficial because one of the things that we find most difficult when someone we know is grieving the death of a loved one is in knowing what we can do. We want to help. We want to show support, and often we struggle with how to do that. One of the things we can do is to deliver our own love messages. Of course we are not replacing the person who has died, no one can do that, and our love messages are not the same.
We can say, “I love you,” and we can offer our own words of encouragement and support. We may not be there in the morning to make the coffee, but we can extend an invitation to get together on a somewhat regular basis, whether for coffee or something else. Over time, these love messages we give do help to fill the void people feel in their hearts when someone they love dies.
If we’re the person who has lost a loved one, we can seek out new sources of love messages. For instance, we can go to a friend or family member and say, “You know, Dad and I used to go to all the home ball games together. I’d like you to now be the person with whom I share those experiences.” We might even ask someone new, a person younger than ourselves, to continue the tradition in a familiar parent-child manner.
Sometimes we need to go outside our circle of family and friends and find a new source of support. If you and Mom used to trade recipes and talk about food and now Mom has died, you might join a gourmet food club or take a cooking class. You might even volunteer to cook for others, for instance, for a church supper or at the local soup kitchen.
One of the least obvious things that we lose when someone dies is the sensation of being loved. One of the ways we feel love is through life-affirming messages that say or show, ‘I care about you. You are important to me. I love you.’ We can help others who are grieving for a loved one by giving our own life-affirming love messages. If we ourselves have lost someone, we can ask others for these love messages.
Life Is Honest, Open and True: We don’t have to limit our practice of sharing life affirming messages of love, support and encouragement to those who are grieving. These messages are easy to give and with practice can become part of our everyday conversations, no matter who we are talking to. When we freely give life-affirming love messages, we share ourselves and build stronger relationships with others.