When someone we love dies, it leaves us with the unanswered question: “ Where are they?” There is a huge gaping void that they once filled. Where is my mother — her laugh, the unusual and inventive chef who filled the house with wonderful cooking aromas, the comedian who even in illness found humour? Where is she?

Where is my father — the larger than life philosopher, the booming voice — and my brother — the jokes and wild stories the gentle listening ear. I used to call him my oracle – he seemed so wise beyond his years. Can they be gone really gone? I can keep them in my mind and recall them if I wish to relive memories, but what of them now?

Are they all somewhere in some heavenly abode waiting for me? If they are in some existence that I am not yet privy to, why don’t they communicate in some way, let me know they’re ok ? These are possibly some  of the oldest questions of mankind.

Some people believe the dead do communicate. Luellen Hoffman writes about special dreams and her belief that those we love communicate  whilst we sleep. Mediums, spiritualists, psychics all believe that after death, there is something more. I find conversations with mediums and those who claim to see spirit intriguing, but I also have a measure of concern for those desperately seeking some contact who do not receive the snippet of information they need to comfort them and are left asking why? Why has their dearly beloved not come forward to give them something to cling to?

On radio news the other day, they said that experiments will soon be taking place in the UK and in America to determine whether the near-death, out-of-body experience is real. I found myself thinking what a waste of time this will be because there will always be some unanswered part, and there will always be believers and sceptics.

In my many years of experience working with death and dying, I have encountered and been privileged to observe the personal belief systems of many individuals.  I have shared conversations with those with deep religious conviction and those with none. We must decide for ourselves.

I do believe in a greater power; I would like to think that somewhere there is a place that we go to after death and are reunited with those we love. It is a personal thing, and something that each and every one of us has the right to decided for ourselves, we will only know the real truth when we take our final mortal breath.

So how, until that time, how do we survive the death of our loved one? How do we re-engage with our life after their death?  How do we make meaning of the lives we shared with them? Our world is changed.

In my own experience , my father’s voice , my mother’s humour, my brother’s advice and support are now all meaningful gifts. These gifts can never be taken by their physical absence but will remain with me in a very personal way forever.

Tags: , , ,

Alex James

Alex James, MBACP is a professional bereavement counselor/consultant, agony aunt, and author who has worked with bereaved individuals and families for many years. Specializing in sudden traumatic bereavement, Alex has worked for agencies as a trauma support worker, trainer and voluntarily for a charitable trust supporting those impacted by road death. Alex, who lives and works in the UK, is currently based at a hospice, developing specific services for children, supporting children and their families pre- and post-bereavement. Alongside this much-needed work, she continues to manage a bereavement website where she offers confidential e-mail support 365 days a year and also publishes an online bereavement magazine. Alex has appeared on national and local radio and is the author of Living with Bereavement.

More Articles Written by Alex