Let me clarify that headline. You and I don't survive our deaths [as to the heaven thing, that's a whole other topic], but we DO have to survive the deaths of those we've loved. One of life's toughest tasks. The question quickly becomes: What do I do with all the sorrows and guilts that crowd my memory starting at the wake...?
Been there, done that. When you're in your eighties, you've experienced more than a few wakes. So here for what it's worth are some guidelines:
* Sorrow is a given and a natural. Don't fight it. Don't deny it. It's one of the curses -- and at the same time strangely one of the blessings -- of being human
* Guilt is also a given but not necessarily a natural. The best way to manage your feelings of guilt is to immediately translate those feelings into regrets. Guilt is a self-destructive self-indulgence; regret at least says: Your did the best you could at the time, but regret you didn't know then what you know now
* Loss is more than a given. It's a permanent hole-in-the-soul you better get accustomed to the way you've learned to get accusomed to the lost innocence and safety of childhood. No, it hasn't been easy; but somehw you did find a way to make it this far. Keep at it, my friend, loss doesn't get easier but it does get survivable
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