This is the fifth and final part of the Coping with Loss paper. Previous parts have been published earlier this month in this blog. You can download the complete text from my company's website: ICC Van der Haven.
If we go beyond the personal emotional and rational aspects of mourning, we come in the realm of the transpersonal or spiritual. Note that this is a realm that many people have reservations about, which is why I waited until the end dealing with it. Going as far as this stage in your mourning process may be helpful, though, if you are ready for it.
In the first place, the process of mourning has aspects that are to do with making sense of death. Answers to this are given in stage two by religions, but in this stage, questions often go beyond that:
Why does this happen to people?
Is there a reason for people dying?
Isn’t this unfair?
What happens after death?
Is death something to be afraid of or does it give rest?
If you are dealing with these kind of questions, you are touching on issues that go beyond the personal stages and into the transpersonal stages. These latter stages deal with what transcends human beings, the larger framework of life and death.
What I am to describe now is based on shared insights from the more spiritual or mystical branches of the great religions and philosophies of life. It is in these areas that they all seem to agree in their views on life and death, which may mean there is some truth in it. Then again, treat this with caution and be critical as you may have totally different insights yourself.
If you look at the world and the people in it from a perspective that goes beyond us as individuals, you will see that in essence, everything and everyone is united. Not only are we all made of the same base materials: atoms, made out of elementary particles that in turn seem to consist of a lot of emptiness and energy. But also in other aspects do we seem to be made of the same material: my consciousness, which is what makes me aware of everything, is the same as your consciousness and everything in and around us pops up in our consciousness. Our own bodies exist in our consciousness and so do our feelings, thoughts and actions. Without consciousness, we would not be able to observe what happens inside or outside us. It is therefore that we can say that our consciousness is at the core of our being, it is effectively our essence or soul.
Taking this a step further, it can be said that all our individual consciousnesses are in fact part of one common, shared Consciousness. If you accept this, you can also say that we are as humans therefore all part of that same Consciousness and that the whole world is part of it as well.
When we are alive, our bodies are the necessary vehicle for our individual consciousness in this life. When we die, the body is left behind: it ceases to function. Our consciousness, however, cannot die, for it is the essence of who we are. Therefore, if the body dies, the individual consciousness necessarily needs to leave the body.
So where does our individual consciousness go? Well, as it is already part of the common Consciousness, it goes nowhere, it simply dissolves into Consciousness. Eventually, it may become part of some individual consciousness again and form new life.
What does this mean for your mourning process? You can realise from the previous text, that the body that we bury at a funeral is nothing more than the vehicle of the consciousness or soul of who was our beloved on earth. This does not mean that we do not need to deal with the body with respect. What it does mean is, that the essence of our beloved who died is not gone, but that it has become (or, in fact, stayed) part of the world and the universe around us. That it is and remains part of ourselves, even, because in our soul, we are part of that same Consciousness.
What we lose by death is the personal relationship with our beloved. But what we never lose is the transpersonal relationship with him. Although the latter is not very tangible, it will continue in all of our memories of the moments we shared, the impact that he has had on us and the impact he will keep having on the rest of our own lives. The fact that a spiritual bond can exist, even if you are separated by death. Until it is our turn to leave this life behind and join him in the same Consciousness that we are already part of. Remember that it is that very Consciousness that inspires us, radiates from within us, supports us in the hardships we go through after losing a loved one. It is that Consciousness that is at the same time the source and the destination of our lives, that expresses itself in us human beings as pure Love and that gives you the strength and inspiration to carry on after our loss and find back the purpose of our lives.
May it be a guide in the difficult period you are going through.