Dealing with Death
Grieving with Purpose
No one is prepared for grief. The rush of feelings, the thoughts, anxieties, and heartache can take us by surprise and drive us to our knees. Yet, when we choose to harness that power for self-growth, amazing things can happen. Good can come from pain.
Sigmund Freud first brought up the concept of grief work in 1917, and today the idea that bereavement is purpose-driven continues.
Dr. James Worden chose to see the work of bereavement as task-oriented:
- To accept the reality of the loss
- To process the pain of grief
- To adjust to a world without the deceased
- To find an enduring connection with the deceased in the midst of embarking on a new life
Your current job is to focus your attention on achieving each of those goals. It will not occur in any logical order; each of us is different and the path we walk in the bereavement journey is not a straight one.
Dealing with grief is hard work. It takes both courage and hard work to successfully adapt to the loss of a significant person in your life.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness has been defined as, “The state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience.”
Awakening to the inevitability of your own death is liberating. You are no longer forced to manage the fear; you are able to include death into your life experience.
Preparing for Your Death
Death is a natural part of life. When you live with intention, which involves looking toward death and preparing for it, you crush its power to keep you from living fully. The following task list will, when done mindfully, help you to not only confront your own death but to take control of it. While you’ll never actually know how your life will end until the time of your death, your preparations will help you become comfortable with it.
- Write a will, notarize it, and provide a copy to your executor as well as any other individuals who are important in the settlement of your estate.
- Designate a Power of Attorney and Living Will, two essential documents if you are ever unable to care for your financial, medical, or legal needs due to an accident or illness.
- Make a detailed plan of your funeral or memorial service, which will help your survivors acknowledge and celebrate your accomplishments.
- Organize all financial papers including insurance policies, bills, mortgage papers, vehicle titles, and loan documents. It may be useful to consider adding a trusted family member to your bank accounts.
- Secure your digital life for your survivors. Make sure to list all account passwords and usernames and let your survivors know how you would like your digital real estate (email and social media accounts) handled after your death.
If you don’t work to really get in touch with the reality of your death, you will never be fully satisfied with your life. When endlessly trying to become victorious over death, you stop living fully.
- “What is Mindfulness?”, Psychology Today, 2014
- Kashdan, Todd, Ph.D., “Confronting Death with an Open, Mindful Attitude”, Psychology Today, 2011
- Klosowski, Thorin , “One Day You’re Going to Die. Here’s How to Prepare for It”, 2013