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How to Positively Cope with the Passing of a Loved One

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Whether we like it or not, we know that death is just part of this physical life phenomenon. Its an inevitable phenomenon we all will go through. We KNOW this in our heart of hearts. We really do. But, that doesn’t make the loss of a loved one any less painful or traumatic.

In the past few weeks, I have been receiving emails and messages to write about this very topic: Coping with loss of a loved one.

I have to admit, its not going to be easy to write this, cause it hits home for me. Over the last year or so since I started writing on this blog, I have been thinking about writing about this, but just haven’t. I guess revisiting those feelings of loss is not a very comfortable feeling.

A few years ago, prior to getting married, I lost my younger brother in a car accident. He was driving. Its was a range rover, with eight friends. Not a scratch on any of them, but my brother didn’t make it. He was only 23.  When I got the news, I went literally numb. I couldn’t feel my hands holding the phone. Shock is mildly stating it. Being the eldest daughter, having lost my dad to natural circumstances just two years prior to this accident, I had to take care of my mum and my little brother. By take care, I mean emotionally. I literally immersed myself in that very act. I put up a brave front, took care of everything…funeral, relatives, mum, little brother…
Thats what my role had become. And I still remember some people whispering while I took care of it all, “She isnt crying. She mustn’t be close to her brother.” Then there were those who kind of understood, “So brave, She’s taking care of everything.” None of them knew that whenever I went to the rest room what I was doing. And they didn’t know he was my best friend too.

In time, while my focus was to take care of my mum, cause it was her baby after all…my other focus was to make her not feel this loss. But, no amount of distractions, would make her forget. Thats when I realized it wasn’t right to  forget, rather to remember the good. So we started by celebrating his favorite foods, his favorite jokes, his signature mannerisms, basically we started celebrating his life, like he was still with us.

Miraculously, that was the turning point in our mourning process. As a family, we were now accepting his absence, while acknowledging him. It was at this time he started appearing in my dreams in a happy glowy state. Never talking, just smiling back. Then sometimes, he would just whisper things in my ear while I was dosing off. Never a negative feeling. This always left me with a sense of peace and calm. After a long time, he appeared in mums dreams too. She actually jumped with joy when it happened. Like as if to say- He is fine! He is happy! And the best part Dad was with him…. according to mum, they were having a blast.

Today, we collectively pray for him. Think of his positives and celebrate his life. Sometimes when I make a meal he loved we say a small prayer for him.

Its been 8 years to his passing now. During these 8 years the feelings have changed from calling his demise “a loss” to it becoming “a passing”. With all the tears we have shed and the amount we have missed him and still miss him, there is still a sense of calm. But this calming acceptance has taken time.

Its not that his gap has been filled or can be replaced, but the acceptance that he is in a better place, makes it easier. There were times, during the grieving process when we asked, why? ..a lot of whys? And that’s normal. Its part of the process of acceptance….In time the questions have faded, being replaced by love. Love for him and what he taught us, what his presence gave us. What a beautiful gift his presence was and still is.

He will be missed always, but now he is celebrated! He has become our little angel…looking at us from the heavens. How would he feel if we were sad?

We still celebrate his birthday with a huge chocolate cake and playing video games. His favorite stuff.

Since my little one was born she has been seeing his pictures. She knows who is, and sometimes she can sit for hours with his picture and have conversations with it. I was amazed when I saw her do it the first time. But, I never stopped her. Isn’t it amazing that even though he has passed away, he still remains Alive in all of us.

Each of us cope differently. You might not have the same experience as me when someone close to you “passed away”. But, that doesn’t mean they are not in a better place. It does not mean that they are not at peace.

Who knows, while I share this with you, all our loving friends and relatives who have passed away are having a lovely party up there?

I like to think that they are happier and more at peace. Our angels are putting in a good word for us to God….

Now its your turn….Have you been through this? How did you or are you coping with it? Do you have any suggestions for others through your own experience. Share your thoughts, your stories here in the comments and let this article be a safe place to explore your feelings and get support. If you would like to leave your comment anonymously, that is fine too. You sharing your burden will help you and the other readers of this article.

With Immense Love and Gratitude,
~Zeenat~

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Author: Zeenat Merchant Syal

Counseling Psychologist/ Spiritual Counselor/Motivational Speaker/Naturopath/Holistic Healer/Writer

26 thoughts on “How to Positively Cope with the Passing of a Loved One

  1. I had tear4s in my eyes as I read this post Zeenat. These tears were not just for your brother, but also threedeaths I have seen in the past one and a half years. The first was a very dear rfnd who died in a horrible car accident, the senond was the brother of my best friend and the third a neighbour. When my frind passed away in the road accident, it was too difficult to handle initially – i couldnt work, i couldnt eat nothing. But then one day when all of us(her frnds) were sitting together for lunch, we started talking about the fun moments we had with her, her pranks, her jokes and all the masti. In no time the sadness dissapeared and we started smilling. Its not th eloss that got any less, but we decided to focus on all the amazing times we have had instead of the tragic incidents we faced a couple of days back. I used this technique in the other two deaths that happend and thankfully it worked even then and not just on me, but the rest of the people too.

    You are right, these things happen and we know they will – but then we somehow asume deep down that our loved ones are immortals. I wanted to say, i am sorry about ur brother, but i wont, cozx as u said hasnt passed away. he is still alive in your hearts and memories…

    Cheers to you and your spirit.

    Tavish

  2. I didn’t know when i finished reading it..I read it again and again. Every time i repeated i felt better. I am really sorry for the event but i am thankful to you for dropping all your feelings which matches to most of us who surely has lost some nearies and dearies.
    I remembered my friend who died in an accident and who appears in my dream time and often.
    I think this is enough to say how thankful i am for you regarding this post.
    Waiting for your next post.

  3. This was beautifully written.
    It is difficult to adjust to not having that person there – to share the moments with them anymore in a sense. That said, death is a passing and I celebrate the life that was lived. The person that has passed on remains a part of me – in the path I travel and in the choices I make. In that sense, as in other you mention, the life is celebrated continually.

  4. Hi Z.
    ” As a family, we were now accepting his absence, while acknowledging him.”

    Wow was this powerful. And so filled with love and Truth. I’m sorry for your loss.

    I’m moved by how your daughter has conversations with him and you allow it and even shared it with us.

    I’m sure you’ll never know how much you helped everyone with this today. Thank You. xo

  5. Hi Zeenat, I’m deeply sorry to hear the loss of your brother that happened then, but I’m very happy to hear that you guys have found a way to cope with it and live your own lives. It’s refreshing to hear such positivity in today’s world where there is a lot of negativity going on.

    Personally, I’ve never had to lose anyone close to me. I only have one grandparent – my grandmother – but she is the closest one to me. I saw her last year in Taiwan. :) I wasn’t very close to the other grandparents though. I’m just glad that my grandmother is doing well right now. Your post kind of reminds me to cherish every moment we have with our love ones. Thanks Zeenat!

  6. Hi Zeenat .. This is a wonderful post .. it’s great to learn from someone who has experienced a tragedy and then find out how they coped and found a way forward. That’s a wonderful description of how he is celebrated now by the family and by his friends ..

    I love the way he is appearing to you and to your mother, with her husband, and they’re having a ball .. isn’t that fun … and now your daughter is talking to him .. there has to be something wonderful in talking “to yourself” – my little brother used to natter away to himself in the early hours of the morning .. and now my mother chatters away and always has done ..since she’s been stroked & actually it’s a blessing for me .. as I know it’s a release for her.

    She’s talked to her mother, her uncle and his wife (whom she nursed to their ends), and to all sorts of people .. some we know, some we don’t! .. but she’s happy doing it .. and was apparently saying the other day to a picture of us as children I put up on the wall .. she was thanking God for our health and happiness .. it’s good to know.

    So I love this post – thank you .. I’ll print it off and keep to read again and again & to use when I talk to others about their losses at these sad times .. it’s uplifting – thank you ..

    I’m not sure I’ve ever really grieved for my father, who died in an accident 30+ years ago, nor my uncle whom I spent so much time with in these last years, and my mother to come – so your post will help me there too .. it’s a wonderful expression of positive coping ..

    Many thanks – have a great week .. Hilary

  7. Hi Zeenat. I think dealing with loss is a personal journey and there’s no right way to find peace. I do know that our loved ones are eternal. They are beside us when we think of them, and enjoy being remembered. The part of them that we loved the most has not gone, they are everywhere. Spirits want us to be happy, and they work tirelessly to help us enjoy life.
    Thank you for sharing. Bless you, Simon.

  8. Hi Z – This is one of your best posts ever….so personal and so meaningful. I can’t imagine how the loss of a brother must feel. I always knew you were a brave and spirited young woman – you’ve gone up several notches in my esteem. Hugggggggs

  9. Thank you so much for sharing your story, Zeenat, and of course your gentle, love-filled advice. I’ve been blessed in only losing a grandparent and an aunt so far, and both happened when I was in my 20’s. Death hasn’t been in the forefront of my life. That being said, I do love the idea of celebrating a person’s life and honoring that where they are now is so much more brilliant than we can imagine.

    You give others hope, and for that and so much more, I’m grateful.

    Huge hug & love to you, Beautiful Zeenat!

  10. Thank you for this post, Zee, and for your beautiful honesty. I’m sure that this post helped many people today. So glad you’re in my life.

  11. Oh, Zeenat, you were so wise, tapping into your strength as you did. For so many, it’s easy to simply fall apart. My family experienced similar trauma many years ago, with my father’s suicide. We all have different coping methods, and they are more or less effective. We do what we can. But what you advise…oh…!

    Your celebration is SO powerful! By letting go of enough grief to make space for the activity of love to flow in, you created a foundation for more rapid healing that also encompassed your family. And now, you are all open enough to still feel and see and hear your brother’s presence, for it’s as Simon says, I believe… that our loved ones are beside us, always, wanting us to celebrate life and helping us do so.

    What a beautiful message of hope you’ve shared. Thank you so much. Love to you, Z. xoxo

  12. Oh, Z. I’m so terribly sorry for your loss. It appears that you actually gained so much from your brother’s loss, though: wisdom, strength, gratitude, joy, beauty, and so much more.

    Thank you for sharing this most beautiful post, and such a huge part of your heart and soul!!!

    Love and hugs,
    M

  13. Hi Zeenat, this is a difficult topic to write about and you did a beautiful job. Personal loss is probably the greatest challenge in life. It requires that we reach deeply into ourselves and and sort through painful feelings. I lost five family members within a short period of time and it was a bewildering experience.

    Instead of focusing on loss, I found it useful to focus on the living value of their contribution. As long as those memories a alive in me, then they live on as part of me. Death is painful and each of us finds our own way to deal with it. We who are living carry the torch and part of that light comes from those whose lives have touched ours in a special way. They live on in my light.

  14. Life, death, there is much confusion about how to relate to these. We all know we have a limited time here, we know our loved ones have a limited time here and yet our lives are eternal.
    You gave a great description of how your brother is eternal, how he is still part of your family and how wonderful that is for you and HIM.
    Who want to be seen as dead and forgotten, I don’t, so what you are writing here is such a great way to deal with death. Thanks you, xox Wilma

  15. Dearest Everyone,
    I have read all your beautiful thoughts here..and appreciate them so so much. Sharing this was difficult for me…but in a sense it makes me feel good that someone might benefit from my personal experience. Its never easy to cope with the loss of a loved one….but the solace of knowing that it does get better ..it does get calmer is a plus. While I was in the situation, I didnt think that…but in time i accepted it. And today I can share my experience here….
    I loved all your comments…loved them…I am thankful to have such a lovely network of friends who come here and share their thoughts and encourage.
    My little one always looks at me on the blog..and looks at all the gravatars and has names for all the aunty’s and uncles she sees here…whether you believe it or not..all of you who come here, visit, read, comment….are part of my little family. And I am so lucky for that.
    Thank you once again for all your beautiful thoughts….You are all AWESOME!
    Lots and lots of love to you all,
    Z~
    p.s. am off to make a huge shift in my life…more on that in the next post…stay tuned :)

  16. Hi Zeenat,
    Wow. What a powerful, love filled post!
    People respond to death in such a wide variety of ways and use many different coping mechanisms. You chose to celebrate life, much as you do in your own physical life, so your brother’s spirit very much remains with you as he lovingly, gently connects his presence within your family’s memories…..what a gift.
    The same process you went through with physical death is also healthy when experiencing an emotional death–the loss of a presence of Energy is the same whether it is physical or emotional, and requires the same mourning process, the same remembering process….life changing in so many ways, any type of death may allow us to live most fully if we make the right choices…..

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  18. Zeenat — What a beautiful post with an important message. I loved how you moved from “loss” to “passing.”

    The point that seems to have resonated the most with me is how you let your daughter know about your brother. I realize she did not know your brother, but I love that allow her to talk to his picture.

    I think this is a good example for helping children deal with death. Sometimes I think we try to “put away” the dead person as means of protecting the child. Perhaps, this is a mistake.

    I loved your words about your mother, “That’s when I realized it wasn’t right to forget, rather to remember the good. So we started by celebrating his favorite foods, his favorite jokes, his signature mannerisms, basically we started celebrating his life, like he was still with us.”

    I think this is the way we should teach our children to deal with death…not to forget, but appreciate and honor the person. Let them cry as much as they need to because it will help the healing, but also encourage them to remember the funny and good things about the person.

    Excellent post, Zeenat…thank you:~)

    I really appreciate this post. I always love your gentle wisdom. It makes me reflect and consider what I have learned from my own life lessons.

  19. I can hardly remember how I ran across your site, I think I was looking on a wordpress.com site for blogging tips and getsociallive. At any rate, the first thing I saw was your post on grief and loss. I set up a new Blog a couple months ago to help me with the loss of my husband and to try to learn if journaling would help me. He died suddenly on Jan. 25, 2008, and you’d think it was last week. I am sure I’ve made progress……but it is so hard. We were inseparable and now separated – at least physically. I have talked about it, still shedding a million tears, wrote about it; you name it. I have experienced many losses over the years. They cannot hold a candle to the loss of my beloved. I will subscribe to your site, I am sure it will be helpful.
    thank you, Arlene G, Atlanta, GA

  20. Dear Zeenat,
    I have read your post so many times now and it spoke to me – your spoke to my heart. Thank you so much. I treasure reading this post during my own grieving. Just as you treasure your time brother forever more, I shall treasure the time I had with my friends.
    Peace is with me and may it always be with you,
    TiTi

  21. Zeenat,

    What a touching story! I agree we should celebrate our long gone loved one’s memories but get to that point we need some time to heal and go through process of denial, anger and acceptance. I lost few babies in miscarriages and I know it was hard for me to let go, and I did not even have a pictures or memories to see. After many years, I can talk about my angel babies and my grandparents whom I was very close to, finally and slowly.

  22. Hi Zeenat..

    That was one of the most touching article or rather true story I have ever read. More than that its a real help to people who lost some1 they loved n don’t know how to cope up.

    Through some bizarre incidents we have lost 4 of our closest friends from our friends circle with in the gap of less than 3 years. Though not up to this extend we all have been doing this kind of things to keep thier memories alive n keep our spirits up.

    Thank you for the insight. Hope to read a lot more of your wise n thought provoking articles.

    Thank you for being a friend.

    Take care n keep smiling.
    :)_

  23. Very touching and very well written. I am sure lots of people who have had tragedies in their life will find solace in reading this ariticle.
    God Bless You

  24. that’s a very important topic and we all need to know about it, thanks for sharing it zeenat

  25. Thank you for sharing this Zeenat. Im having a hard time right now. We lost our mom three years ago. After that, my brother and I became so close. I asked everythingn to him,every move and decisions i make i ask for his opinion. On March 19 at 3 am he had a motor accident and we lost him…I have all this question that really questioned my faith to Him…Right now, I am still grieving for his sudden loss. I really don’t know what to do….

    • Hi rose,
      I’m sorry for your loss. I can understand how we can begin to question everything after a traumatic event of this kind can happen.
      Its ok to grieve, to cry, to miss….its natural.
      Let me know if I can help in anyway. Please do email me in detail so that I may help you to heal faster.
      Lots of love to you~

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