Bereavement counselling helpful
The obituary section of the Citizen offers ample evidence that many readers suffer grief following the death of a loved one, so I wonder if it might be of help to some to share my recent experience following the death two years ago of Linda, my wife of 50 years? My initial response was that I could cope, which I did well enough I think, until a friend asked if I’d considered bereavement counselling. I realizing I may have missed an opportunity. I approached Cowichan Hospice. Since then I have had four meetings with a trained volunteer and in that short time have arrived at a clearer understanding of my bereavement and my future.
We began with an emotion-based approach, discussing denial, anger, guilt and acceptance at which point, my question was, “acceptance of what?”. I was developing a strong sense that Linda and I were still in a relationship (something which surprised me, but not family and friends). Then I read the following affirming statement in C.S. Lewis’s book, A Grief Observed: “bereavement is a universal and integral part of our experience of love. It follows marriage as normally as marriage follows courtship or as autumn follows summer. It is not a truncation of the process but one of its phases: not the interruption of the dance, but the next figure.” This helped me accept that the relationship between Linda and I could continue as a marital one, albeit chaste, despite the words ‘deceased’ or ‘the estate of” being affixed to her name on official documents.
As if anticipating my realization, shortly before she died, Linda had written, “Gregg, you know love is stronger than death”. Believing that, I intend to live out my marital vocation as best I can, writing to my wife regularly of what Jane Austen called “important nothings” and allowing Linda’s wit, intelligence and loyalty to nourish me. I see the future as holding more hope than despair, something I may not have seen without counselling, so thank you to my friend and to Cowichan Hospice.