December of 2012, my soul mate passed away.
He was 34.
We shared a great love that we both knew we were lucky to find.
The circumstances of every loss are different. This loss has forever changed me and there have been days, many of them, that I didn’t actually think I could make it. This week it occurred to me that sharing my experience might be helpful to others. I hope that it is. My last intention is to create any more pain/suffering so if any of this offends any of you I apologize in advance. Namaste.
1. It will feel like you are dying.
2. Expect that you will viscerally know in every one of your cells that there is somewhere you would rather be and it’s not here. Not alive. Not on Earth. It’s wherever they are. This does not mean you are necessarily suicidal, just that you would rather be with them.
3. Enjoy the first year. Yes enjoy it. They will always be in your heart but may not always be as present in spirit as they are in the first year after their passing.
Enjoy every supernatural wink they give you. Invite them to ride along in your passenger seat whenever it’s empty. Play music they loved and sing with them. Light a candle. Take a bath and talk to them. Out loud. It’s not delusion – it’s consolation for them not being embodied anymore. You can take them with you.
4. If you were in fact their soul mate know that, in the eyes of your shared friends and family, you are now a channel. Family members will call you when they want to connect with the deceased. Temporarily mute your own subconscious story and hear their stories. You will learn more than even you ever knew about your loved one, their other relationships and the imprint you left on their life. Remember everything you hear is not always true. Share memories, uplifting messages and encouragement with those you both loved and do it often. It’s a gift beyond measure and a connection to the lost loved one perhaps not otherwise available to those friends and family who also loved your soul mate. Allow them to have their story. Let it enrich yours. Trust it takes nothing away from what you shared together.
5. Whether or not they died in hospice, avail yourself of their resources, groups and counselors. They deal with death professionally and usually handle it better than us lay-folk.
6. Write a will. Assign your belongings. Write letters to those who loved you to read once you are gone. Reserve your spot next to your loved one if that is where you would like your body laid to rest. The certainty of knowing your bodies will be laid to rest together can be a welcomed relief amidst the other 23.5 torturous hours of the day.
7. Allow your grief to heal the smaller pieces of shrapnel still embedded in those further down the grief path than you are. Most humans have lost other humans they love. Your grief may remind others of their lost loved ones and allow them an opportunity to tell a story, remember a forgotten moment, or simply honor their loved by sharing the story of their life and death with you, the newly bereaved.
8. If the circumstances of their death involved unimaginable tragedy and requires obscenely insensitive legal, judicial, correctional or medical paper work, assign 30 minutes each week to address this paperwork. Send pictures of you and your loved one to the administrators handling the case. It will remind them you are not a number and that this “case” is not “unimportant.”
9. Invest in landscape centric television series that have no reminders of your loved one or your past. It’s a medicinal escape from the hard work you are doing. (Suggestions: Doc Martin. Northern Exposure.) Enjoy this mental vacation as often as necessary.
10. Cry in yoga. Tell your yoga teacher who tells you to find a smile to, kindly, fuck off.
11. Love them.
Help bury them. Honor them in an eulogy/obituary/epitaph/book/blog post or Facebook post. Participating in their transition out of this embodied life will honor your connection, help you say anything left unsaid and give you some otherwise unavailable glimpses into what’s ahead.
12. Forgive all those who don’t show up to the funeral. Forgive those who you think failed your loved one. Forgive your loved one and (I’m not there yet) forgive yourself. Relating to your loved through guilt/shame/fear will decrease the amount of time you have to relate to them through love. After all, that’s what they were here to teach you—love.
Your relationship continues once they’ve vacated the tenement of their physical body and they will sit with you, spiritually, as your body heaves and melts into a puddle of snot and tears on the bedroom, living room, kitchen and bathroom floors. But don’t forget, as in life, it’s easier to enjoy your time together when you build a house of love (not a prison of guilt or regret) for them to visit.
Laurie Costanza is a yogi who currently resides in Colorado and practices power vinyasa.
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Asst. Ed: Madison Canary/ Ed: Lynn Hasselberger