Here’s the thing, I’m a Christian. In fact, I’m a born and bred, dyed in the wool, true, blue Mormon. I believe all sorts of mind-blowing things like:
Earth isn’t actually our beginning. Coming here was a bit like leaving home to go to University to learn, make a whole load of mistakes, take lots of exams and then come home with new qualifications.
Problem Is, we can’t actually return home if we don’t pass the test perfectly….but there’s no way any of us can do that so there needed to be a process that made it possible. A bit like when we need to give a prospective boss a character reference from a previous employer…someone with clout and authority to vouch for us and say “this person is worth your time.”
Get where I’m going with this?
Well, that’s how I see it anyway. In a really basic, worldly way. Really, the plan of Salvation and the Atonement are so much more sacred and meaningful than my simplistic analogy, but for times’ sake I wanted to get the point across quickly.
I whole-heartedly believe I lived before this life. There are many events that have taken place in my life to support this belief. Not just being sat down and told, but flashes of memories, dreams, feelings and special answers to my prayers and pondering.
I also comfortably believe that our body is basically a really cool coat, that at the end of our time on Earth, we take it off and move onto the next room.
I have a lot of fun imagining what the spirit world must look like. The different dimensions within it and whether chocolate exists there.
I am a sensitive person. If I am near someone who has lost a loved-one, I can often tell.
Also, I sense the emotions of others. I can feel guilt, excitement, anger, love, awe, depressed and all that’s in between and none of those feelings will be my own.
Crowded places are overwhelming.
I have come to learn that this ability is actually a recognised trait that people can have. In fact, they have even given it a name.
So my lovely readers, I am an Empath. Which is why it is extremely important for me to ground.
Because of all these weird and wonderful gifts and beliefs, I naively thought that I could cope with death. I fooled myself into thinking that because I believed and have experiences that told me with absolute certainty that life does not end on Earth…that our eternal soul does not remain trapped in a decaying body six feet under….that I would be quite accepting of death.
I have seen this attitude from other people within my faith – or anyone who is spiritual or follows a similar belief.
Then, my dad – my best friend, my fellow joker, my chess-mate, gardening-buddy, Deep-thinking, Movie-loving Dad….Died.
Like, he actually said goodbye, knew he was going and just….died.
It doesn’t matter how many times I say it or write it. The word “died” stabs me in the heart each time and now holds a huge power over me.
The weeks after my dad died I grew so angry and guilty. It was very complicated. I was furious he had to die so suddenly and so soon. At 66 it just felt too soon. I was only 28. I needed more time with him.
I shouted at him. Told him I’d never forgive him for leaving. Then I cried and begged for him to forgive me and ignore what I just said. (See what I mean about complicated?)
Then I felt guilty. If I am so upset – surely I am lacking in faith? I am doubting precious truths I have held dear all my life…right?
Which makes me wonder – is it OK to Grieve If you believe in life after death?
The answer is so simple yet it’s taken me three months to find it.
Let me ask you a question; let’s just say your dad (or someone super close to you, who you love and see regularly) was booked on a flight tomorrow, to go to a remote island across the other side of the planet.
This island has no internet. No mail. It does not come up on Google Maps and no one is allowed to visit unless specifically invited.
However, there are mansions there, crystal clear waters, beautiful happy people playing gorgeous music all day long and an abundance of wonderful food.
How would you feel when you say goodbye? Not knowing the next time you will see each other? Knowing you won’t be able to communicate with each other?
Kind of happy that they are going to have this incredible existence somewhere, but totally gutted you have to be separated.
So let’s go back to death and your belief in life after death. The same principle applies.
Death is DEVASTATING.
Don’t sell me on the idea that my dad is in an amazing world having the time of his life.
Don’t tell me that if I just believed he lives on in a paradise, that I won’t feel sad anymore.
I am grieving because of SEPARATION.
And so it all suddenly clicked and I realised that you can totally have faith and grief at the same time.
In fact, I believe grief is a gift. It is a painful, beautiful reminder of the love you have for that person. That you will never forget them or the impact they made on your life.
Grief is an unwanted gift that keeps on giving. Just when you think it’s all gone, it surprises you with more. It will never go.
And I’m surprised at myself for thinking this, but I’m actually glad. I want grief to stick around and be my pal for the rest of my life.
Because I know that as long as I’ve got grief with me, I will never; ever forget my dad. And even though we are currently separated, I know that because of grief, we will never truly be apart.
And alongside grief, I also have faith. An older, more-comforting friend whom I can have around at the same time. Because, my friends, you need to have both grief and faith in your life to experience the fullness of joy.
And that statement just blew my mind.
Love you Dad.