The search for meaning when a loved one dies

November 26, 2022 0 Comments

Meaning affects everything we do; and just as importantly it affects the body as witnessed by the many examples of mind-body relationships, such as the placebo effect. Finding meaning in death is not always easy, and sometimes it is hard to find.

However, searching for meaning when a loved one dies can make all the difference in how you cope with their loss and reinvest in life. Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung, the founder of analytical psychology, put it this way: “Meaning makes many things bearable, perhaps everything.”

Searching for meaning is useless at the outset of your grievance; first give yourself time to express your emotions and review the relationship. Eventually, do your best to make sense of your loss. Here are seven considerations that have provided meaning for others after the death of a loved one, and that may help you in your own search.

1. Meaning derived from the belief that a spiritual world exists. Many people have reported experiences that have convinced them that there is a spirit world and an afterlife. Near-death experience (NDE) has happened to more than 8 million people who report going through a tunnel, seeing other people who passed before them, and a beautiful white light.

Others, mourning the death of a loved one, have experienced dreams, visions, and various synchronous and symbolic events, called Extraordinary Experiences (EEs). These events gave them comfort and enough evidence to believe that their loved ones live in another existence. This had a great influence on the course of his complaints work.

2. Meaning derived from the celebration of life lived. This may include dedications, commemorations, carrying out a particular tradition, or doing volunteer work in honor of the deceased. Some survivors have started support groups or have supported the recently deceased in their community based on their needs.

3. Meaning derived from the belief that there is a heaven and a hell. Many grieving people find comfort in their belief that their loved ones are in heaven with God. Additionally, many embrace the doctrine of the Communion of Saints, where they can pray to their loved ones and ask them to intercede with God for them.

4. Meaning derived from the belief that love never dies. There are many who receive a contact from a deceased loved one or from a divine being interpreting it as an act of love. Their love for the deceased continues as they reinvest in life and establish a new, healthy but different relationship. Feeling loved and giving love when suffering is a rarely used but highly effective coping tool.

5. Meaning derived from the belief that one day there will be a reunion with the deceased. Those who believe in an afterlife, heaven, or receiving an EE are often convinced that they will see their loved one again when they die. They are not afraid of death and reinvest their energies in their present life.

6. Meaning derived from the belief that the loved one still provides comfort, care and support. “Even in death, she continues to give and care”, is the thought of many who feel the presence of her beloved in mourning. This is a profound example for them to emulate.

7. Meaning derived from the belief that the deceased is whole and healthy in a different existence. Many of the after-death contacts that the bereaved experience show the loved one whole and healthy again. They are grateful that the beloved no longer suffers.

Obviously, there are many, many more ways that individual mourners find meaning in the death of their loved ones, helping them to integrate their losses into their lives. Much depends on personal beliefs, the nature of the relationship with the deceased, and the manner of death. The search for meaning is an important part of grief work for most, and often becomes a time when we are open to reviewing our worldview and beliefs about life and death.

Sometimes trying to make sense of death seems fruitless. For example, how do you make sense of the death of a four-month-old child (this happened to me)? I was eventually able to come to terms with that. Still, it’s helpful to look for the cause of the experience and draw meaning from it with a trusted friend or family member. We need others right now to be with us when we suffer. Find the right person as you try to make sense of your loss.

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