We talk alot about the difficulties associated with bereavement, but it is also helpful to consider the benefits that this powerful life experience brings.
This doesn't always come immediately and may not come til quite some way down the path, but surviving bereavement can leave a person feeling strong and aware of their own personal strength. Sometimes we don't know how strong we are until our strength is put to the test and bereavement is one of the most powerful tests there is. Having come through bereavement, we can feel that we have the strength to endure whatever life throws at us in the future.
The strength we gain from surviving bereavement can leave us feeling invulnerable - that nothing can harm us because we feel so strong now. This can apply both emotionally and physically. Invulnerability makes us braver about life and we feel more able to try new things and take risks we would not previously have taken. If the risks are reckless, then this is obviously not a benefit of bereavement, but if it makes us take more sensible risks that simply widen our experience and enjoyment of life, then this can be a good thing and a benefit we can take from the experience of bereavement.
There is a certain peace that comes with knowing that something we have been afraid of and even dreaded has already passed. The worst has come and gone and will not come again. And we have learned that we have the strength to cope with loss and can therefore feel more confident and less fearful about future loss.
One of the major qualities we look for in a Bereavement Rescue volunteer is experience of significant bereavement. This is because, until a person has experienced such a bereavement, they cannot have the empathy needed to help others. What a bereaved person needs more than anything else is understanding. This can only come from someone who has been there and experienced what they are going through. So even as we suffer the effects of bereavement, we are being prepared to help others in the future simply by virtue of our understanding and empathy.
Once we have experienced bereavement, the small stresses and worries of life take on smaller proportions in our perception. Compared to the loss of a loved one, there isn't very much in life that seems worth getting very upset about. This can be very good for our sense of perspective and teach us what matters and what doesn't really matter in life.
There are things that we can learn from books and each other, but there are some things we can only learn through the experiences life brings. Bereavement has a way of developing our understanding of life and it's purpose like nothing else. We advise people to explore the information available from Near Death research and much of this has special insight into the meaning of life and our purpose on Earth. Often, people go through everyday life caught up in material concerns, and have little time or focus for the bigger questions in life. When bereavement strikes, they are thrown from everyday life and materialism and are generally forced - or at least given an opportunity - to consider the big questions. As they gradually put their life back together, it is generally with a better understanding of life and the bigger issues.
Nothing develops the spirit quite as much as challenge. NDE studies tell us that we come to Earth to develop spiritually and that everything that happens to us is for a reason and to help us develop. Bereavement is one such lesson that we are given as a development tool. It lays something bare in the soul and enables new growth.
Empathy, understanding of life and spiritual development can all add up to and contribute to a greater overall maturity. When we look at a mature person, what do we see? Strength, sense, measured response, wisdom...but above all, experience. Bereavement is a maturing process that makes adults of us all.
As the pain of bereavement ebbs away, we can be left with an enhanced appreciation of beauty, Nature, the little things in life that can be so special, family and relationships. This may be because these things are what got us through and helped us to survive bereavement - and maybe because bereavement changes our perspective and helps us see what is truly important in life.
We would be very grateful if you would consider donating to the Bereavement Rescue Centre Appeal. We are now at a stage with the Bereavement Rescue Centre project where we must pay for various services relating to the Planning Permission process (Ecological Surveys, Architect drawings and Planning Application fees). We expect to have to raise at least £1200 in order to get through planning before we can apply for a grant to enable the building of the Centre.