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Mourning and Celebrating a Loss

I used to ride an electric-powered trolley like the one pictured above to and from Callanan Junior High School in Des Moines. I developed a certain fondness for those public conveyances because they didn't spew diesel fumes on me as they pulled away. I even enjoyed watching the driver put the connectors back on the cables when they came off. I mourn their passing and celebrate the joy they brought to my life.

I am reminded today that mourning and celebrating losses are two aspects of one's personal response to change. When someone dies, we mourn our loss but we also celebrate our relationship. I learned this lesson abruptly one day long ago when I attended a funeral service for a community leader I had known. I really respected this person and wanted to acknowledge this by attending the funeral. At the beginning of the service, a young minister said something like, "We are gathered here today to celebrate the life and work of a great contributor to our community." I repeated the word "celebrate" silently in my mind, over and over as I sat in the pew.

The point struck me then and I've never forgotten it because it came as a "eureka" experience. I had been brought up experiencing grieving as the only response to loss. I had never seen celebration accompany grieving. The funerals I had attended had offered only consolation for the bereaved. Celebration was something entirely new to my experience. Combining celebration with grieving provides a more complete response, one capable of resolving the grieving process.

That experience provided me with the wonderful lesson that in our mourning, we celebrate what we've had and feel gratitude for what we take forward from that relationship. Celebration and gratitude, I learned then, are essential components of the mourning process. If we don't celebrate and feel grateful, we risk leaving the loss without closure, which means we continue to mourn, even to the point of becoming depressed.

Do you carry unresolved grief? Do you continue to mourn losses because you haven't properly celebrated what you had and acknowledged your gratitude for what you carry forward in your life? Participate in any of our monthly Group Clearing® sessions to balance the energy of grief and open yourself to your joy. Information is available on the Events page of this website.

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