Professor emeritus, Dr. philos
Spesialist i klinisk psykologi
Klinikk for krisepsykologi, Bergen, Norge
Chronicle by Atle Dyregrov, psychologist specialist and professor emeritus at the Clinic for Crisis Psychology / Center for Crisis Psychology
As human beings we possess a unique ability to reflect upon the past, present and future. We can learn from our experiences and use them to shape our future. But when someone we love dies suddenly and unexpectedly, it can be challenging to accept that we did not get to say or do everything we wanted to. Feelings of quilt and self-reproach may occur, and we ponder about what we could have done differently or said in a different way, or things we did not get the time to say or do.
It is completely natural to wish that one was able to say farewell in a meaningful way and express our love and gratefulness to the deceased. But when that is not possible, it can be a heavy burden to bear. We may regret small incidents that happened a long time ago or contemplate things we never had the courage to say. To accept that the past cannot be changed can be difficult, but we can learn from it.
It is important to remember that it is not our fault when someone dies, and we do not have control over everything that happens in life. We must grant ourselves permission to feel sorrow and process feelings in our own way. It can be of help to talk to someone about what has happened, or to write down our feelings in a letter or a diary. If we are filled with self-reproach, we can use our imagination to go back to the moment of death and say what we wanted to, and in that way get another farewell.
We can find comfort in honouring the memory of the deceased. We can light a candle, make a memory book, or plant a tree in their name. By doing that we can hold their memory alive and experience their presence in a different way. But for our lives to be able to move on and become liveable again, we must allow time to be our friend and not let the deceased take up more space in our thoughts than the ones who are still living. We shall carry the deceased in our hearts and invite them back in our thoughts when days of remembrance and holidays approach. However, it can take longer than expected before the world gets back its colours, at least longer than everyone else thinks, and often the colours reappear imperceptibly. Perhaps without the same sharpness as before, perhaps with a different nuance, but the colours will come back.
The Norwegian text can be read HERE