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Six Reconciliation Needs of Mourning

Dealing with loss

The loss of a loved one has a profound impact on our lives that never truly goes away. The process of mourning is a long and difficult experience. In order to heal from a tragic loss, it is best to not set aside your grief, but rather to face it head-on. This process requires you to deal with inner feelings, but it also involves mourning, which is the outward expression of grief. There are six waypoints along the path of mourning which represent different needs for reconciliation. Once a person has undertaken these steps of mourning the person will be more capable of moving forward after a loss.

1. Accept the reality that the person is gone

This first step is not easy, and it may take weeks or months for it to fully sink in. There is an instinct to avoid this reality, but this delays the process of mourning. An important and natural part of accepting a death is to remember the events that occurred at the time the person passed away. These include memories that are both good and bad. Each time you replay these events in your mind, the truth becomes more real to you.

2. Let yourself feel the loss

This task is difficult because it requires a person to embrace pain, while the natural instinct is to avoid it. The instinct is to repress or deny the pain of grief, but without confronting it, the pain will linger much longer. During this process, it’s best if you don’t try to deal with all the pain at once, because it can easily become overwhelming. Instead, it helps to create a safe place where you can deal with it a little bit at a time. In order to spread the task out over time, it might be necessary to find distractions that temporarily take your mind away from grieving.

3. Remember the person you lost

Even after a loved one has passed away, you still continue a relationship with them through your memories. These memories are precious and should not be repressed. It helps to keep belongings and photographs that remind you of the person you lost. Don’t let people convince you to get rid of keepsakes or photographs of the person, because moving into the future is best accomplished when you have a healthy regard for the past.

4. Develop a new sense of self

When someone with whom you were close to passes away, the loss has a transformational effect on who you are. A wife whose husband dies becomes a widow. When losing a child, a parent becomes a bereaved parent. The way you see yourself and they way society sees you is changed. Also, after a person dies, you may need to take over the role that they previously filled. This process may require more work which reminds you of the person’s death. This transition into becoming a different person can make you feel afraid, almost as if you are a child that needs to discover his or her identity. However, by going through this process, you may discover new qualities in your personality and new strengths.

5. The search for meaning

When losing a loved one, it often causes people to question things that they may have previously taken for granted. It can cause you to question your faith, or look for a new perspective on life. After losing someone extremely important in your life, it feels like a part of yourself has died, and you may wonder if life has any meaning at all. A difficult but important reconciliation need is to search for this meaning and find a renewed focus for your life. This may mean questioning your spirituality or reaffirming your faith.

6 . Be willing to receive support

Many people are made to feel that they should not rely on others or not let things get them down. Some people may tell you “Turn that frown upside down,” or “It’s time to move on with your life.” However, trying to deal with loss by yourself can hinder the healing process. It’s important to be around compassionate people who are willing to acknowledge the significance of your shared loss.
Reconciliation is a process that helps to shape the new person you become after a loss, and it enables you to face the future without the presence of a person who was important to you and helped define the meaning of your life. You will never forget this person, and the pain of loss will never completely disappear, but as these feelings become less intense and less frequent, you will begin to feel more able to continue on and have a rich and meaningful life.