Acknowledging Loss and Honoring the Departed

Ezelle Theunissen
Posted: October 19, 2021

Acknowledging Loss and Appreciating the Departed

October/November is a time to remember and honour the departed. With so much loss during this COVID-19 pandemic, how might we acknowledge our losses appreciatively? As one of my associates exclaimed recently, “if one more person tells me to ‘feel my feelings’ I might punch them!” Yet, we know from our own lived experience (and recent findings in neuroscience) we have to “feel it to heal it” because acknowledging what’s happening in our body, heart and mind is the first step to creating psychological safety within our own nervous system. And only then can we create psychological safety in relation (“co-regulation”), and in community.

AI offers a way to do this with compassion and skill; so feeling can be healing rather than overwhelming. I find it a powerful way to ground me back into the present moment by encouraging me to look at whatever it is I’m sensing, feeling and thinking, from a place of embodied, coherent inquiry: “Why is this significant? What do I need (not want)? What does this say about what I truly value? How do I embody this value in my relationships? In community?”

In facing the loss of a loved one, may these questions offer support:

Reflecting on our best moments together, what does that tell me about what mattered most to you?

What did you see in me that I did not yet recognise in myself?

What were your favourite sayings/quotes that continue to guide me?

What image/symbol connects me most powerfully with the memory of you?

How do I live my life, honouring that it’s been touched by yours?

Acknowledging Loss and Honoring the Departed

Comments

  1. Ezelle TheunissenEzelle Theunissen says:

    Hello Dennis, that’s an amazing observation as my view is deeply informed by narrative therapy. Thanks for making the connection and enriching the reflection.

  2. Dennis WhitfordDennis Whitford says:

    Your blog reminded me of an article I read called something like “Saying Good-bye by Saying Hello” when I briefly studied narrative therapy. The person experiencing loss could say hello to exceptional moments including memories of happy times together, what was appreciated about the person, and perhaps other “best moments together”. Over time these thoughts would potentially begin to loosen the grip and disabling nature of feelings of loss.

    • Kelly StewartKelly Stewart says:

      That’s a very thoughtful practice, Dennis, thank you so much for sharing it with us.

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