What do you hold onto that makes you feel close to your deceased loved one? Is it a shirt with their smell? A love letter? Or maybe it’s not an object but a shared cause or creed you foster.
Connection. We all seek it but in different ways. For a long time, I thought I was hugely different in my grief. I kept my parents’ home and their things for eight years. I went through every stitch, every piece of paper, every photograph, every junk drawer, and I felt them beside me. With me.
I thought I was a bit weird. And then I noticed in the most popular posts and tweets a common thread – a search for, or a celebration of, connection. Connection gave comfort. It was an affirmation that love never died, or that perhaps the loved one was still around in some mystical way. By achieving connection, we seem to conquer death, if only for a moment.
How do we bridge that gulf, that space that death created?
We bridge it in dreams. We bridge it by putting up photographs of our parents, our grandparents, our husbands, our children. We bridge it by keeping their room just as it was. Or by engaging in a cause that was near to their hearts. We may run a race in their honor. We may go to their favorite places, or plant their favorite flower, or visit their favorite friend.
I’m thinking about connection now because six months ago, I signed away my childhood home and released a huge connection to my parents.
What have I learned in six months?
No matter how far we’ve come, we may find ourselves mourning when a connection is severed. I have experienced an undercurrent of grief in letting go of the house. The grief may forever pop up from time to time, but that’s part of the process. And it’s OK.
Trying to rekindle the connection may be disappointing. I’ve stopped outside of the house a couple of times. It isn’t the same. To everything there is a season. Once a season is past, the healthiest thing to do is embrace the next season.
We don’t have to have an object to have connection – but it helps. I feel the absence of the connection in not being able to go to their home, but I also still feel my parents close to me. I’ve kept objects, but more importantly, I’ve got them embedded in my heart.
It’s OK to seek out connection. I’m not talking about actually having a back-and-forth conversation with the dead. At best, I think mediums aren’t actually connecting us with our loved one. But an object is more than an object when it reminds us of the love we had with someone, and that is a beautiful thing that can help us step out into the season ahead of us.
What’s even more beautiful? That the connection full of gaps and static now will be restored for those individuals who’ve put their lives into the hands of Christ. I will be fully reconnected to my Christian parents someday. That helps me endure the inferior connection that I grasp at now.
I want to hear about your connections. When do you feel closest to your loved one? What has that connection helped you do? Has it given perspective on your grief journey and helped you along to a measure of healing? Tell me your story.
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