In the wake of a death, sudden or expected, the grief comes upon us as instinctively as hunger. Our body endures wave after wave of pain, uncontrolled by any means of distraction or intention. It is as if our mind is clenched by an external energy, gripping tightly and forcing us into a primal focus of pain.
These instances are considered natural grief, when the brain is assimilating the information about this person’s death and adjusting itself to a life devoid of further interaction with the person. In this way, if we disregard the degree of emotional difference, we can liken grieving a loved one to having our first kiss. Preposterous?
The plasticity of our brain is activated by each new experience we undergo. This renders key moments of our lives (e.g. births, deaths, firsts) paramount over, for example, which pair of socks we wore yesterday. The importance of the experience is completely dependent upon the experiencer, and such importance is assigned unconsciously and specifically from person to person. If one was wearing a “lucky” pair of socks when she won the lottery, these socks take precedence over other socks in her drawer, because of the association they hold. This empowerment of items can not be directly compared to the power we endow our human connections, however the presence of such connections exists similarly in our minds. As such, if he owns a pair of socks given to him as a gift by his newly deceased loved one, the socks will take on intense significance as his grieving process continues throughout his life.
The concept of assigning energy to items is as old as humanity itself, because the meaning-making that is intrinsic to human experience involves associations with all external entities, living or otherwise. The practice of sensing energy from a living being in a non-living thing is called “Psychometry,” and is utilized throughout the world in both practical and spiritual manners. In western culture, psychometry is used in police investigations for the purposes of locating suspects, victims, or even witnesses. Items of personal significance for direct (i.e. meaningful to someone for im-practical reasons — a teddy bear) and/or indirect (i.e. meaningful for practical reasons — a pencil) reasons aid psi practitioners in their collection of invisible evidence–evidence which has led to the recovery of innumerable people and locations of interest to the government.
When a loved one succumbs to physical death, which we process as an ultimate passing from our world, is there any respite from our suffering?
The adage is ‘time heals all wounds,’ but the pain of loss is far-reaching and eternal. Whether the death occurred this morning or thirty years ago, the memory we hold of our beloved friend or relative remains as strong as any memory we possess. In this way we continue to process the loss throughout our lives at select checkpoints, like unexposed mines that sneak themselves in while we convince time to will away our grief. A birthday, an anniversary, a wedding, a piece of life-changing news — each moment reinvoking the memory we hold sacred, reexperiencing the pain of their absence, reimagining them beside us to share in our feeling.
What we fail to realize is that each thought of them brings them to us, and often times it is they who bring themselves here on your behalf. When you have a sudden flash of his face, her smile, their hands, or even a sudden whisper of their voice, it is a legitimate point of connection. If we accept this as fact, the most visceral suffering we experience, usually an intense short-time period immediately following their death OR following our learning of the death, occurs this way because it is at this time that the soul of the person has the strongest physical connection to you. The “deceased” person has just been released from physical existence and has only begun the journey back to the place of the eternal. Every belief system has specific guidelines for this “eternal,” but the pervading belief is that the soul has an existence in which it is capable of interacting with souls still existing in bodies on Earth. Within this framework, grieving can be understood as the point during which we have the strongest physical connection to our loved one outside the realm of interpersonal contact. It is when we are at our most “psychic,” our most vulnerable to the physical interaction of their souls with our own. This is a commonly held belief by many people; it is merely a question of how one frames it.
A purely psychological evaluation of grief would describe these intensely visceral occasions as natural as a result of triggers within the brain — associations we have produced throughout our physical experience with that person that connect with other associations we have formulated and continue to formulate throughout life. However, grief runs much deeper than the brain, to the core of our ‘selves,’ wherein we connect spiritually and physically with all souls who no longer exist within bodies tangible to us. This is where the true psi of relief comes in: We do not need to associate death with pain or sorrow if we are aware of this eternal connection and can evolve to understand it.