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When we look at the way our ancestors handled death the mere obituary of those days was a universal understanding that community members announce a person's death. Face to face communication was the norm. In pagan communities mourners said prayers to nature, performed music, chanted and told stories aiding the deceased in their transition to the afterlife. I imagine how this activity allowed for mourner's expression of grief in the company of others. Mourning in public takes courage and signifies an ending to what was and an uncertain beginning for those who suffered a loss. Our current culture can learn from those early times when communities mourned a death or celebrated a birth.

Birth and death are the two major events in existence, and humans treat each differently. It seems death is so much more expensive than birth. Retailers of death create a big cover up of all the things we imagine or know what death is and how it affects loved ones. To help take the sting out of the process, we pay undertakers, cemeteries, etc.

Most feelings attached to bereavement are universal, but just as no two storms are alike, there is an intensely personal side of death that is a one-of-a-kind experience. It doesn't matter how much you think you have prepared for the passing of a loved one it is still debilitating. The finality of death separates us from the person we loved and takes away the physical relationship we had with that person. It is truly a shock to your system to feel the absence of that person who meant so much to you and to miss the unique qualities you adored, never to experience that person again.

Numbed by this loss, we are faced with the fact that we can never go back to a place in time where we could have said and done things differently. As we move through the process of coping with loss, we may experience many social, spiritual, physical, and emotional reactions. Grief reactions will come and go and send us on what feels like a roller coaster ride. Weeks, months and years can go by, playing out our memories of the way things were or should have been. Things will never be the same again. We will naturally grieve, but we need to make a conscious effort to mourn; to share our grief. Bereavement programs are available at Hospice Niagara - The Stabler Centre and are designed to assist you on your Grief Journey. Another resource would be to access the Bereavement Resource Council of Niagara. Sharing your grief is important to the recovery process that will help you get past the pain.

My father was ill for a few years (maybe longer) before his passing, and it seemed as he neared death he was the same man I knew growing up, only now more fearful, confused, critical and questioning. I am sad that we never bonded as father and son. You see Dad was not one for expressing his inner thoughts to me. After his death, I felt guilty that the gulf between us had not closed or even shortened. We shared many similar qualities and talents, so perhaps in this light, we were able to receive some benefit as we wordlessly touched each other when our paths crossed. Recently, I took comfort in a friend's suggestion:

“ Surely guilt, blaming oneself for some unclear missed opportunity over which one clearly did not have control is a waste of energy, energy that could better be spent doing other things … ”

So I learned to live a more valuable life through the company of our cats, my loving wife, daily walks, plenty of sleep and eating well-balanced meals. I now fully appreciate the enlightenment of drawing and painting, photography, music, and writing. It all goes to show that it is not just time itself that heals; rather it is what we do intentionally every day that creates new beginnings, new life.©

  • Thanks to
  • The Stabler Centre
  • Hospice Niagara
  • Bereavement Resource Council of Niagara
  • Hospice Palliative Care Network

Grief's Journey


November 15, 2013


James Kershaw


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Jim Kershaw says

October 15, 2016

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