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Dealing with Death


Dealing with death

Death is something that I seem to think about more as I get older.  I wish I knew what to expect.
I try not to be fearful, but it’s hard not to fear the unknown; after all death is inevitable, it is the one thing in life that is guaranteed… but, does that make it any easier to accept?  No, I think not.

Death comes in many guises – sometimes unexpectedly and sometimes through horrific circumstances.  Some people go quickly and peacefully, some suddenly and tragically whilst others may have to endure tremendous suffering and pain, but whichever form, death brings with it a rollercoaster of emotions. These emotions are strong and run deep, and for a period of time take over your life.

The depth of emotions can differ depending on the circumstances of the death.  When someone is taken suddenly, the sense of denial can be enormous, no warnings, no preparation, no goodbyes – all the plans that you had made and all the things that you wanted to say but never got the chance to.  How can that be fair? And how are you ever going to come to terms with that let alone accept it? When someone is terminally ill, your life is suspended, it is no longer your own until that fatal day when your life is turned upside down and suddenly you have to find the person/family that you once were before.

So how do we do it? How do we learn to cope with the loss?  There is no rewind button; there is no pause, our only option to move forwards no matter how painful.  Mourning is a process that we all have to go through – you have to let the emotional wash over you to enable you to come through the other side. I am not saying that you have to plaster a smile on your face and stop talking about your feelings or the person you lost, what I am saying is you have to face each new day; face the emotion and the challenge and conquer it.  Some days will be harder than others, some days you might feel that you can’t face anyone, some days you may just want to sit and cry and ask why, other days you may want to shout from the rooftops about the unfairness of it all; this is all okay, its part of the healing process – you just have to ensure that it doesn’t become the norm.  Remember your loved ones will always be in your heart no matter what, you will always miss them and feel their absence but the pain will eventually start to ease – you on the other hand have to remember to live, the chances are you have other responsibilities, people who rely on you to be strong and lead the way, so on the days when it feels particularly hard, always remember your lost ones and what they would want for you.

So that’s all well and good, but what about the people we have lost? Personally I think death is whatever you want it to be…
I often have visions of my dad, my twin brother and young niece all together.  Dad is sat on a wooden bench in a field full of poppies.  Dad is wearing a canvas fishing cap, I can’t really see his face – my view is from a distance.  Dad is fishing.  My brother is sat next to him, must be about seven.  His feet are dangling from the bench and sometimes he is laughing at something dad has said, sometimes he is concentrating and focusing on something dad is showing him.  Occasionally my brother looks my way and I can almost see his face, we almost connect but I never seem to hold the vision for long enough.  My beautiful niece is skipping through a meadow, her tiny feet leaving footprints amongst the buttercups, the sun is shining, reflecting on her bouncy blonde curls, she is laughing and shouting something out to her grand-dad. Sometimes I see her tiny hands holding out a butterfly which she lifts up to the sky to set free.  Another time I see my friends mum sat next to dad – they are laughing and shaking their heads – I can’t hear what they are saying but I know they are discussing our latest escapade…

I don’t know how real this is.  I am not religious and I’m not going to question it, but it brings me comfort on those days when life just seems so unfair – it makes it all a little easier to accept.  Death of a parent leaves you feeling lonely.  The protection they provided suddenly gone and the death of a child is something that no-one should face – how you ever move forward from that I will never know.  So my vision, my belief, works for me and I’m sticking with it.

Sue Hessom


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  1. Claire says:

    My boyfriend lost his nephew. He was only six. The impact this had had on the family has been huge – it’s not the same and I don’t think it ever will be. It’s funny because sometimes you forget – I was shopping and picked up some figures that I knew Sam would like for Christmas. When I realised what I’d done I burst into tears – how awful does that sound? I read the above out to my boyfriend – made us both have a tear. We like the idea of death being whatever you want it to be. We are now going to think of Sam playing football in a park, surrounded by kids his own age.

  2. Jen Appleby says:

    What a powerful story and one you get the feeling only just tips the iceberg of emotions. Love you x

  3. Maggie says:

    You are so right – there is no single recipe that suits everyone.

    It is important to remember to tell and show those who you love, that you do love them and care for them in as many ways as possible so that you have no regrets when their or your time comes.

    The pain of watching a loved one die and the pain of losing them does fade over time, but you’ll never lose their love for you and the fond memories of your time on this mortal earth together.

    I believe that I will see my loved ones again – not everyones cup of tea – but it gives me comfort.

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