Although often difficult to talk about and harder to accept, death is a natural part of our lives. It is a stage of the cycle of life. As death is natural, so is grief. It’s a normal reaction to loss, not a disease or a condition. It is part of our human existence.
Often mourners are referred to as “recovering” from grief. This term is damaging because it implies that grief is an illness that must be cured. It also suggests that grief can be cured. Mourners don’t recover from grief. They become “reconciled” to it. In other words, they accept the reality of the death and learn to live with it. Grief is not something that goes away like the measles. It forever remains with the mourner. Reconciliation comes in learning to live with the grief while being eternally changed by it. The words “recovering” also implies a return to the way things were before the death. This is impossible. The grief of a death is life altering. It is not something that one “gets over”. It affects people in varying degrees but the journey through grief impacts the mourner forever.
Although mourners learn to live with grief, this does not mean that they live a life of misery. Reconciliation takes time, with growth often accompanying the healing. The bereaved person may not become truly reconciled to the loss for several years and even then will have “grief bursts” forever. The sense of loss remains, but mourners often find their lives potentially deeper and more meaningful after the death of someone they loved.
No one wishes to take the journey through grief. But by understanding the concept of reconciliation, it is easier to understand the journey and its ultimate goal.
Written by: Cathy Welsh
for Bereaved Families of Ontario