The road to recovery is a
lengthy one but even the longest journey begins with a single step
Reverend John writes:
If someone you love has
died then this is for you:
The human brain is a
strange and wonderful thing. Amongst all its other functions it keeps a
model of the world you live in. In a sense you live in that model. When
something changes in the real world then if you are willing to come to
terms with it you do so by updating your model.
But it is a model in which
the perspective is very definitely centered on you. You are the centre of
it, and the people you love are the most important people in the world.
You know how maps change according to the perspective used? - well imagine
a map based on how important things are to you. That's what your model
world is like. Whole continents will occupy tiny corners, whilst your home
and family and friends may occupy half of it or more. So when one of them
dies, a large proportion of your whole universe has changed.
So the first reaction of
the program that runs your brain is to refuse to change the universe
simply because of one instruction to do so. If it were a computer program
it would be asking for confirmation:
ARE YOU SURE? Y/N?
DO YOU REALLY WANT
TO CHANGE THE WHOLE
So often when people are
told of a death - the first reaction is a refusal to accept it. But
somewhere inside you the truth is there - yes it is so. So your brain does
what any good program would do - it backs up the old model and starts
creating the new model.
But then you have been
using the old model for so long - you forget sometimes to start up the new
model and try to keep using the old. I think this is the origin of a lot
of nonsense about ghosts - I think most "ghosts" are the result
of wrongly trying to use the old versions of your program. So often people
say something like "I keep talking to them - and I feel they are with
me" - or - "I was walking down the street and there he was
coming towards me, only when I looked it wasn't him". For many days /
weeks / months / or even years your brain will keep trying to reassert the
old model - even though your conscious mind knows increasingly that the
world has changed.
Sometimes there is a
problem because there is a lack of evidence. You might not have seen for
yourself - you might not have been there at the death so you have only
second hand evidence. Could it be that some conspiracy is cruelly
deceiving you? - well you know that is not so - and yet you want evidence.
The funeral can be a symbolic way of providing you with evidence. You need
a focus for your grief - and this can be it. So funerals should not be
designed to conceal the harsh truth - but rather to place it into a true
perspective. A funeral in which no one cries may be a total failure. We
need to cry! Bring children to funerals - they need to cry - and other
people's grief takes us out of ourselves.
That terrible moment when
you look down at the coffin in the grave, or watch the coffin moving away
in the crematorium, has an important function for you - it is a necessary
moment in the process into which this death has plunged you. It provides
you with the final confirmation that your mind needs to start building the
new model of the universe into which you are now entering.
Your model of the universe
is now seriously damaged. How can you go on living in it? But there is
healing. You have built in powers of healing, only you have to let them
work - and you can find healing through those who care for you, only you
have to let them help you - and if you have a trust in God - then you can
find healing in him - only you have to let it happen. The healing will not
be to restore what has been lost. That is not a possibility. If we lose a
limb it does not grow again, but the wound can heal, and we can learn to
live with the new reality.
When someone is seriously
injured the brain often cuts off a great deal of the pain - and if you
talk to a road accident victim, you might find that what concerns them is
who is going to feed the cat - rather than the reality of their injuries.
So sometimes the problem for mourners is that there seems to be an almost
total detachment from reality. And then a few days or weeks down the line,
you begin to feel better - and suddenly you feel worse - you rationalise
that as guilt - how can you be feeling better when the person you love has
died? Your brain has allowed in a little more reality for you to cope
with. So the graph of mourning has you bumping along the bottom, slowly
healing, and then suddenly plunged back into grief. That is normal and
natural. Eventually the time will come when the healing process will work
through and you will come out of it. But give it time - and let it work.
Many people, professionals
and others can help you through this. Why not talk to your local priest or
minister? He will probably have a great deal of experience in helping
people in your situation.
Donated by the Rev. John
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