SADNESS, GUILT, RELIEF - IT'S ALL REAL, RELEVANT AND OK.
When we think about death and dying we often associate it with lots of people devastated and crying because they are truly broken that the deceased is no longer here with us.
But not all death is accompanied by sadness and heart break. In some cases, (and I say some, because I have only encountered a few of these occasions) death is also accompanied by a sense of relief, like a weight has been lifted from someone’s shoulders. The life brought so much hurt, and the subsequent death has freed those who endured that suffering.
In this instance, there are still tears, there is still grief, and still present are hurt and anger. But these feelings and emotions are for very different reasons.
There is also a lot of guilt attached to these emotions - and that guilt is coming from the person who is not “sad” that the deceased is no longer here with us. They feel guilty because they are not “mourning” but rather, for the first time in the long time - they can breathe. They no longer feel trapped or weighed down by a person’s mere existence.
Some people, even though they have been victims of certain types of behaviour, are still the ones suffering. Sad isn’t it?
Being able to sit with those emotions in these situations, and to be able to draw out the right way of saying goodbye is a tough balance to find. And I am no expert. I do not pretend to be. I have only conducted 40 or so funeral ceremonies and 2-3 of those services have been situations like this. But, I think I have done a good job in dealing / comforting and guiding those families through a respectful and purposeful send off. One that gives them the closure or begins the closure they need.
First (I think) you must address the hurt, if the people are willing. Dig a little deeper to find out why they feel this way and then give them some reassurance and that is completely fine to be feeling that way.
When I have been faced with these situations, I have sat with the family (for a longer period than usual) because I want to fully understand what has happened and what is happening from past to present and what they are feeling.
I want and need to fully understand the dynamics of all of the family members who will be present in that service.
I find myself asking them why they are even doing this in the first place?
What is the purpose of the service for them?
And what / how would they like it to serve them?
Because let’s be honest - the service, whilst it is about the deceased, is about the ones left behind. It has to serve some purpose for them. Otherwise, again, why are we here?
So, why am I writing about this? I guess I am writing about it to give these situations some light. Cause I don’t imagine this sort of thing gets talked about too often.
I am writing about this to give people the permission to feel however they find themselves feeling, when someone dies.
To give light to the fact that there is no right or wrong way to feel. There is no right or wrong way to grieve.
Everyones’ emotions and journeys are different. And, again it is different with every death, with every situation.
SO, if you know of someone in this sort of situation or if you yourself are in a situation like this... I got you. Grieve how and when you can. Let your emotions pour out.
Be free and guilt fee to feel, however it is you feel. And please don’t have any expectations on yourself or someone else in this situations.
However good or bad the situation was in life or death - you feel the way you feel. And that’s just how it is.