It was 20 years ago, aged 19, when I suffered my most devastating bereavement, however, it was by no means my first loss, by that time I had already experienced loss/ or bereavement 5 times, most of which were traumatic, all insufficiently processed at the time and subsequently preoccupied my thoughts for many years, some till this very day.
This research is quite possibly the most important data (to me) I have come across in the last 20yrs, and the timing is significant. I found Worden’s (2008, pg 11) principles for effective grieving resonate the most with me, especially no.4, as I have spent my entire life since the age of 5 or 6 trying to be just like those loved ones I lost. I recognised their values and qualities and took it upon myself to try to embody them and let them be known, that when anybody would look at me they would say “you’re just like so and so”, that they would still live on within me, and so that when they are thought of, they’re thought of in good light, possibly because of me.
These qualities have almost shaped my entire character and have been the strengths I’ve needed to call upon in tough times. When I’ve felt suicidal I would say to myself “greater ones than I no longer have this privilege called life, even though I no longer want to live for myself, I must live on because they now live within me”.
At times I felt I had/have an unhealthy enduring connection to my loved ones, the idea or subject of death(s) became a major driver in my life, I would often say “my best friends are dead men”. But today, having read this paper I feel an enormous sense of relief that what I was acting on was innate and necessary (although I wouldn’t have accepted anything to the contrary), so after 35 years in some cases, it means so much to know what I did for myself, and for them, was ok!
I also recognise the things I did and didn't do at the time, the avoidance and defence mechanisms I resorted to, and the results of such: the beliefs, choices, and behaviours in later years. But I feel an enormous sense of clarity and perspective unfolding within me, and while it may be somewhat emotive right now, I feel the validation this is bringing me will undoubtedly help bring me understanding, resolve, and maybe closure regarding my losses. I hope this work will reach its right audience and changes occur as a result of it. I think it will resonate with a lot of people.