Just after someone dies, there is a lot of busywork to do. Contacting friends and family, getting accounts in order, planning the funeral. But when all of the “stuff” is taken care of and the well-wishers start to fade, you may find that you are just left with yourself, alone with your grief. How can you learn to find happiness in this “new normal?” Read more in Good Grief: Heal Your Soul, Honor Your Loved Ones, and Learn to Live Again.
After the initial fury that comes with laying your loved one to rest, it’s normal to feel like your life has come to a complete halt while everyone else’s moves on. You have been forever altered, yet the world doesn’t change its plans or pace on your account. People have babies, buy houses, go on vacation, become grandparents—and here you are, left to pick up the pieces alone. Despair and isolation dominate your thoughts. You don’t know how to talk about your feelings, yet you feel disconnected from anyone who tries to ask. You wonder if this is bad behavior, but you’re secretly too exhausted to care. You don’t recognize your life or any of the relationships in it. You feel utterly alone, confused, and lost at sea.
This reminds me of how my client Clara felt after she lost her husband, Jo, to a heart attack while they were on a cruise. For two weeks after the funeral, her home was full of food, friends, and family. “You can’t imagine the trays of breakfast meals, sandwiches, pasta, meat-balls, eggplant,” she says. “We ate and talked about Jo, and everyone took turns helping out with the yard work. It was really insane, the generosity of people.” Yet after three months, Clara felt a jarring shift. “Friends and family went back to their familiar lives, whereas mine became drastically foreign and lonely,” she said. “My finances and parenting prospects had changed. I came home to an empty house every night.” Adding insult to injury, life also became logistically harder. “I started walking to and from the bus station, because I had nobody to drive me,” Clara said, “and when it rained, my dad had to drive a half hour to pick me up.”
When clients feel this kind of initial sadness and displacement, Spirit acknowledges it and then assures them that sparks of hope
are within reach. To demonstrate this in a reading, loved ones bring up happy memories that make you smile, but you can just as easily recall them on your own. Spirit’s intention isn’t to rub your nose in the past but to show you that if you can respond to a story in a positive way, you are capable of feeling temporary breaks in sadness—if not genuine, occasional joy. The more you allow yourself to feel and experience good things, the more room you’ll make for other encouraging thoughts to carry you along. Look, I’m not saying you’ll feel the same kind of happiness you did before your loss, but the emotional and practical upheaval that comes with death will feel a little more bearable. Grief is a part of life, but that doesn’t make it any easier. For a bit more help and guidance after the funeral, try one of these 11 books.