Death does not end a relationship…

… It only changes it. And that holds true whether you believe in life after death or not.

Obviously you’re not going to have the same sorts of interactions with the deceased that you had with them when they were alive.

But the feelings you had for a person in life will not magically vanish just because that person is no longer physically present.

If you had a positive and loving relationship, you will still have those feelings. Things you see and do will remind you of the deceased and make you smile. You may still talk to them either in your mind or even aloud. You might even get a response.

Not required.

Conversely, if you have a difficult or negative relationship with someone while they are alive, the strife isn’t over when that person dies, as many people seem to think or perhaps hope.

The changes that death brings to these relationships may cause frustration or open a door to forgiveness.

If you have unfinished business with a person who has died, you might be frustrated that you can’t get an explanation or receive an apology.

However, death can also level the playing field.

In life, my father was a difficult person to be around and even more difficult to know. He was a severe alcoholic, morose, bitter and sharp tongued. My father’s death finally gave me a chance to say many of the things I wanted to say to him without being rebuffed, denied or interrupted. It also allowed me to love my father without fear. I could see him as human – mortal, vulnerable, flawed, someone’s child – just like me.

I feel closer and more loving to him now than I ever could when he was alive. That is the transformative power of death. What changes it brings for you are your choice.

How has death transformed your relationships with others?

9 thoughts on “Death does not end a relationship…

  1. I have never experienced loosing someone close to me until last week. My best friend was killed in a tragic accident and I still am struggling to accept this loose. She was a wonderful friend and so young. I am not sure how to grieve or how to accept this. I am now thinking that I have to live each day to the fullest, and be happy I wake up every day. I am not sure how death has transformed my relationship with others but will certainly pay more attention.

    • I am so sorry to hear about your friend. It’s very tempting to want to just get through the grieving process and feel better because where you are now hurts so damn much. But you cannot rush this and you are going to feel sometimes like you’re taking 2 steps forward and then a big step back in feeling better. But I promise you WILL feel better. Believe in your own strength and the healing power of time.

    • I am so sorry for your loss. May the happy memories soon eclipse the pain. It sounds trite, but focusing on the joy of the relationship is a form of honouring what you had in life and her impact far beyond her last breath.

      It just may take you some time to tap into the joy.

  2. Not really having changed a relationship but continued one on. I lost my uncle whom I was very close to about a decade ago. As he did not have any children when I was growing up, he always treated me as his own. Years later he adopted a little boy in the Dominican (where he lived), my cousin was young (7) and spoke little english when my uncle passed away, and though we had developed a relationship, the distance and language barrier made it quite difficult. However, earlier this year, my cousin and I reconnected over Facebook. He is a wonderful young man, who has just finished high school and will be attending college in the new year. He often talks of his father and the wonderful opportunities he has had and the memories he still holds. He will be coming to Canada for the first time in almost 12 years this winter, and I am so excited to be continuing to build a relationship him, and share the memories of someone we both love.

    • What a wonderful story and yes… death didn’t end your relationship with your beloved uncle, it just changed it to one that is transformed to another generation and another country. Love never dies. 🙂

  3. Audrey, your story is both sad and beautiful. I am sorry for the lost of your father. It’s a difficult passage. Forgiveness and acceptance can be so beneficial to our lives. You are very wise to have taken the perspective described towards your Dad and understanding his person. I is extremely surprising how the relationship with someone carries on after their passing. And you feel that you can speak to them and seek advice. I lost my father close to 10 years ago and was pleasantly surprised about his presence, so soon after his departure. I was lucky to have a great relationship with him and he was a great role model. I miss him everyday and appreciate the memories and his light in my life. I think it’s so important to slow down and pay attention to the people that you care and love.

    • I agree with you completely. The most important thing is to be fully present with people and love and express that love when they are alive! Life is both too long and too short to do anything but live it completely.

      • That’s the first time that I hear the long part of the saying that life is… we should to live it completely. So true.

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