“Deposits of unfinished grief reside in more…hearts that I ever imagined. Until these pockets are opened and their contents aired openly, they block unimagined amounts of human growth and potential.” – Robert Kavanaugh, psychologist
“I think Dad would be so pissed if he knew…”
When Hope contacted me, she had lost hope, both, literally and metaphorically. She was in her third year of university, studying science, with a major in biology. Her father, Alfonso, had died suddenly with heart attack, while on a business trip overseas. He was forty eight years of age. Her Mom, Cecilia, was still in shock.
Hope had been trying, for eight long months, to be the strong one for her family. Besides her Mom, she had a younger brother, Anthony, who was ten years old. She said, he seemed to be doing OK…which surprised her. She, however, felt she was spiralling down a hole, getting deeper and deeper into depressing, to cope with her view of her past…and her future.
Hope was a bright eyed young woman with jet black hair, a warm smile and open attitude. She was dressed like a student with loose, casual, and yet expensive, apparel.
When I asked her what her goal was in wanting to work with me, she said, “I think Dad would be so pissed if he knew we weren’t getting on with our lives…so I feel this sense of responsibility to get my act together, and help my family do the same.”
“Hope, tell me about your Dad…were you close?” I asked.
“Grief can destroy you – or focus you.”― Dean Koontz, author
“I will use the same laws you have been studying…”
“Ken, I was the apple of my Dad’s eye. We were very close. We did a lot of things together on a regular basis…for as far back as I can remember. We played video games together, he helped me with my homework on a regular basis all through school, even when I went to university, he was my sounding board for projects, essays, those kinds of things.”
“Hope, would you like to be able to honour your Dad, and honour his memory, but also get on with your life…now that he has passed?” I asked.
“That’s exactly it, Ken! I don’t want to forget him, I loved him…but, I know he wouldn’t want me, or Mom, or Anthony for that matter, moping around and not getting on with life.” she replied with a frustrated expression.
“I can show you how to achieve that if you’re willing to learn some physics and biology. How does that sound to you?” I asked.
“Are you saying what I will learn here will coincide with what I’m already studying at university?” she asked back.
“Hope, you’ll decide that…but what I am saying is, I will use the same natural laws of science you have been studying because they apply here as well.”
“That sounds really interesting. Count me in!”
“First, we need to talk about the law of energy conservation. This law states matter and energy are constant in the universe and cannot be created or destroyed…only transformed from one form to another form.”
“Can you give me an example, Ken?” she asked.
“…when we die, we transform into other forms of energy.”
“Sure! Everything is made of waves or particles of light, or, if your prefer, light energy. So, everything is some form of energy. You are an example of this law. The love (waves of energy) your parents shared were transformed into you (particles of energy).
“So, everything is made up of some form of light or some form of energy…that sounds like physics 101.” she said, smiling.
“ Yep! Here’s another example. Anything I try to destroy, like this chair I’m sitting on, can only be transformed into another form of energy waves, or another form of energy particles. So, if I burn it, I get heat (energy waves) and ashes (energy particles). If I burn the remaining ashes again, I will get more heat waves and less ash particles. I cannot destroy this chair, only transform it from one form to another.”
Then I added, “Science has found no exceptions to this law since Einstein uncovered it. And, people, like you and I, and your father, are forms of matter so when we die, we transform into other forms of energy.”
“Are you saying the energy that was my Dad is still around, but in a form I haven’t been noticing…that his energy, his body (energy particles) and his love (energy waves) were transformed when he passed…and I just don’t see them?” she said, both surprised, and mystified.
“Mourning keeps occurring, as long as, we don’t see this continuous process going on around us. When we can find it, we are able to honour the person, and move forward in life.”
“But how do we do that, Ken?” Hope asked.
“By finding the new waves of your Dad’s old energy particles that are all around you today.” I replied.
“Can we do that today?”
“Don’t grieve. Anything you lose comes round in another form.”― Rumi, author
“What a beautiful idea!” she replied.
“Sure can, Hope! Tell me the five most important things about your Dad that you have been missing since his death! They could be a trait of his, or a behaviour, or something special he did, or even, something he didn’t do. What did you appreciate the most about him?” I asked her.
“Ken, there were so many things…but, probably the biggest ones were: his gentleness; his dry sense of humour; his confidence in me; his wisdom, and he listened as if I was the only person on the planet.” she replied, remembering some of those special moments.
“Let’s take them one at a time. Once you knew your Dad had died, from that moment, whose gentleness did you start noticing and appreciating around you?” I asked.
Hope went off somewhere again in her head, staring into space, her eyes far away for a time. Then, she responded, “I remember Mom came out of the kitchen having just answered the phone. My Mom, in contrast to my Dad, has a direct, some would say blunt, communication style. But, at that moment, she came over to the couch where I was watching TV, and sat down quietly beside me. She turned to me, and with the most gentle voice I had ever heard her use, told me what had happened to Dad. Then, in the same soft tone, she asked me to come upstairs with her, to tell Anthony. I will never forget that moment. And, I have noticed her gentleness so many times since.”
“Where else have you noticed someone’s gentleness since your Dad’s passing?”
“Ken, I have seen it in so many people during the wake and funeral. And, even since…two of my closest friends have been so gentle in their support to me over the last few months. And, I have even noticed it in myself…events which before would have bothered me a lot, now, I have a softer perspective about them…like my Dad’s work demands…I used to feel abandoned, but now, realize he was trying to pay the bills, and in his own way, protect us.”
“Hope, can you see now, the love, or gentleness, you miss of your Dad’s, is still around you in family, friends, and even yourself…so every time you notice and appreciate it, you are witnessing your Dad’s love, just in its’ new form?”
“What a beautiful idea!” she replied, her eyes watering briefly.
“And, each time you notice the new forms of your Dad’s gentleness in others, you are honouring him, and his role in your life?”
“Wow! I love the idea of that! It sure shifts my perspective on Dad’s passing.” she replied with a half smile crossing her face quickly.
“Only people who are capable of loving strongly can also suffer great sorrow, but this same necessity of loving serves to counteract their grief, and heals them.”― Leo Tolstoy, author
“So…what was the negative part, the bad part, of your Dad’s gentleness?”
“Hope, to understand this transformation fully and anchor it in your thinking, it is important to raise your awareness one more step. It is important to see those we love as real people, not as angels or devils. So, are you ready for two more questions to achieve that step?”
“Fire away!” she replied.
“OK…every trait we possess has two sides, a positive and a negative, in compliance with the natural law of symmetry, another topic from physics 101. In biology 101 it’s called homeostasis, which is our body’s urge to balance itself.”
“Would you give me another example…it helps me get it faster.” she said.
“Sure! For example, kindness is positive because we often receive more appreciation, but also, negative because we often feel used or taken for granted. So…what was the negative part, the bad part, of your Dad’s gentleness?” I asked her.
Hope thought for a moment, then said, “As I mentioned earlier, Dad travelled a lot, so he wasn’t there all the times I needed his support and gentleness. That’s one, for sure. And another one was, …he would not stand up to Mom at times…he was too gentle, and didn’t support me sometimes when I needed it.”
“You can see how not feeling supported at important times, by your Dad, would have caused you confusion and worry, in a variety of ways, eh?” I asked.
“It do indeed! I remember several times when that’s exactly what occurred.” she said.
“Now, let me ask you the other question. What are some of the benefits in the new forms of gentleness you notice in your family, friends, and yourself?” I asked.
Again, Hope paused thoughtfully, before saying, “The most obvious one is now I have more availability, or sources, for gentleness, when I need it. And, each person’s gentleness is special and unique…like Mom’s now is when she talks about Dad; and my friend, Sylvia’s, is when she’s holding her baby. And, even me…when I notice my own gentleness, it reminds me of Dad, and it’s like he is still around me…but, like you said…just in a new, and different, form.”
“A child can live with anything as long as he or she is told the truth and is allowed to share with loved ones the natural feelings people have when they are suffering.” – Eda LeShan, author
“…I think Dad would be really proud of me for doing this…”
And, that’s how Hope began her journey from grief to appreciation. Over just the next two hours, she discovered the new forms of every trait she was missing and valued in her Dad. The new forms were all around her.
As she uncovered each new form, her grief gradually lift and was replaced with appreciation for her Dad, her family, her friends, and herself. You could see it in her eyes, they opened wider, brightened, and even sparkled at times. Near the end of our consult, she was even telling me funny stories about her father’s dry sense of humour.
As we were finishing up, Hope said, “Ken, you want to know one of the best parts of this work I have done here today…for me I mean?”
“I sure would!” I replied.
“I think Dad would be really proud of me for doing this because he would not want any of us lamenting his passing…he would want us to get on with life!” she said with a gentle smile filled with pride.
“I bet you are right with that thought, Hope!” I replied.
“What we have once enjoyed deeply, we can never lose.All that we love deeply becomes a part of us.”– Helen Keller, author
Until Next time…
Now you know, while we all get a short ride in a long hearse…no exceptions, we are only transformed. So, if you are missing someone who has passed, look around you…and find them transformed into others…family, friends, colleagues or yourself. Then, you move through your grief because you have found the new forms of their presence and love. Then you can get on with your life.
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Our next seminar, “A Transformation Day!” will focus on relationships. It will be on Saturday, November 24, 2015 at our offices. Details are available at ww.kenpiercepsychologist.com
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Namaste, (I salute the grandly organized design of the universe, manifested in you!)
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