Is Our Grief Necessary to the Dead?

I talked to my deceased life mate/soul mate while I was out walking in the desert this morning. I apologized for keeping him tied to me with my grief, told him I hadn’t meant to shed so many tears for him or grieve for so long, and explained that much of my grief came from somewhere so deep inside that I had no conscious control over it.

I told him I was doing okay, so perhaps I wouldn’t be bothering him as much, and I wished him well.

I continued wandering, wondering about the incomprehensibleness of grief, and the thought came to me that perhaps such profound grief is a beacon, as necessary to the dead as it is to the living.

During the last weeks of my mate’s death, he was often agitated and confused due to both the cancer in his brain and the morphine he needed to control his pain. Once he woke screaming. I went to calm him, but he was frantic. He couldn’t remember who he was. “Do you remember me?” I asked. He studied my face, nodded his head, and immediately started to calm down. A few minutes later, he’d recovered enough to remember who he was.

What if after he died, he felt as horribly and as bewilderingly amputated as I did? What if his new world felt as alien as mine did? What if my grief, so incredibly powerful, served as a beacon the same way my presence did that night? What if my grief showed him where I was and gave him something familiar to focus on until he could get his bearings?

We are indoctrinated by religion and by stories of near death experience into believing that death is an immediate rebirth into the light, but no one knows the truth of it. (Many people who have near death experiences do not see the light, but see darkness. Some people whose heart stops have no experiences. The truth is, the brain releases powerful psychedelic chemicals during trauma that can induce such mystical experiences. Many people who took LSD or DMT and had good trips returned to themselves believing they had died and experienced God and the after life. But although many people think they know the truth of it, no one on this side of death can know for sure.)

Someone who died abruptly might not know what happened. Someone who died slowly but in confusion and disorientation might not know what happened. This sort of thing isn’t unheard of; it occurs here on Earth. A person who is given sight after being blind since birth often cannot immediately see except a fuzzy light. The brain needs to be trained so that it knows what it is seeing. Perhaps the newly dead also need to be trained to see through their new eyes. And if so, the grief of a loved one could provide a beacon until they get their bearings.

The desert is known for inducing mysticism in people who wander those empty spaces, so there could be some truth to this. On the other hand, it was very hot, and I might have had sunstroke. Either way, the idea of grief being a beacon is an interesting concept, one that will stew in my brain pan for a while.


Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Follow Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.