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Finding life in death….seeing the good in the bad….searching for the gifts in your loss.

Finding life in death, seeing the good in the bad, searching for the gifts in your loss

One of the most important parts of the process I take my clients through when they have lost a parent or someone they love is to help them see the good things that come out of a death, the gifts of the experience.

Does that sound utterly insane, disrespectful and impossible to you?

Yes I expect it does.  Bear with me.

Before you can ever do that you have to know why you are doing it. The idea of finding good in a death or seeing that you received gifts out of the loss of someone so dear to you can feel so wrong and so dishonourable and just so foreign to your way of thinking.  And under these circumstances you will never look for it. And so you will never find it. And you will miss out on truly acknowledging and embracing some amazing changes, lessons and growth in your life.  All created by the person you have lost.

But there is an even bigger reason to do this.  If you don’t want to look for the gifts for yourself, then do it for them.

This isn’t about saying ‘look at what I got’, it’s about saying ‘look at the difference they made’.  When you can see the good that comes out of someone’s death you honour them in an even greater way, you acknowledge the amazing difference they made in this world, not just through their life but even in their death (because that’s how amazing they were).

When you can see how their death contributed to the closeness of your family, the shifts in direction in your life, the greater awareness of other’s about different illnesses, or the growth/power/freedom of yourself or others affected by this loss, then you give their death meaning.  And when you see the meaning in their death, their life has even greater meaning.  Their memory lives on in a much different way.

Don’t allow any part of their existence to be remembered as a shame, a waste, or a pity. How is that a good way to remember someone you loved so much?  How is that a good way to be remembered?

Instead, honour them, love them, and remember them, for the amazing person they were, by allowing their legacy, the mark they made on this world, to be far greater than simply the pain they left you in.

I know I want to be remembered as far more than that. How about you?





Laura October 3, 2011 at 2:08 pm

Beautiful and so spot on as ever!

Kristie West October 5, 2011 at 6:47 pm

Thanks Laura. I knew I’d pinched the title (life in a death) from somewhere but couldn’t remember where – it was from you! Love that line.

Celia Pronto October 10, 2011 at 7:59 am

Thanks Kristie, I spent last week thinking about my dad a lot, which built to a bit of a weepy session last night. Reading your post reminded me to keep focussing on the good things about his life xx

Kristie West October 11, 2011 at 1:02 pm

Remember Celia, it isn’t just the good things about his life to remember. It’s the good and bad of his life AND the good and bad of his death. Feel free to contact me any time you need a hand with this or to chat!

Hope October 15, 2011 at 8:13 pm

I think that you are right. I would give anything to remember the good. I have regained a couple of good memories of my mom, but for the most part her drinking overshadowed all that was good. I hate that this is how things are, I loved her very much, but my memories are blurred.

Kristie West October 16, 2011 at 9:17 am

Hi Hope,

Can I suggest a little exercise to try? We get so caught up in trying to remember the good…..and trying to avoid thinking of the bad….or having the bad as the clearest memories so, in an attempt to avoid those, slowly pushing all memories of them further away. And what this does is just creates distance between us and them and distorts our memory so if we are remembering them at all, we tend to be remembering a person isn’t really them.
Just to allow you to have a nice, clear balanced view of your mum, make a list – one side is the good things (personality traits, good things she did, ways she helped you, etc), and the other side is the not so great things. These lists should be exhaustive – write till you really can’t think of anything else…and then write a few more. But here’s the trick – they must be even. Don’t censor anything. This list is not for judging or analysing – it’s simply for listing honestly. If one list has 100 things and the other has 20 then you need to keep going till both have 100. No one has to see or know about this list but you.
Try it – you’ll be surprised how helpful this can be – and let me know how you go.
Actually I’ve done a blog that’s related to this – check it out here.


Hope October 19, 2011 at 2:14 am

It’s funny you say that because. I have been trying to do that. I will let you know when the lists start to even out.

Kristie West October 20, 2011 at 2:17 pm

I look forward to hearing how you go! This is a simple (though sometimes challenging) but very profound exercise. xx

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