Hello AgainBy Seasons | April 01, 2021
What to do with the love you still have in your heart
In the months and years that follow a significant death, there comes a point when we ask ourselves the following question: “While I know my loved one is no longer physically here, what do I do with the love I still feel in my heart?”
In his book Techniques of Grief Therapy, Dr. Robert Neimeyer writes about how sometimes we feel pressure to say a “final goodbye” or to find closure after the death of a loved one. However, when we yearn for contact with our deceased loved ones, instead of learning to say “goodbye,” it is often more beneficial to learn to say, “hello again.” There is a deep instinct inside all of us to find an enduring sense of connection with those that we’ve loved and lost. It is through embracing this yearning and this instinct to connect, that we find healing in our grief.
How to say “hello again”
Dr. Neimeyer provides us with a list of therapeutic prompts that we can use to create a sense of connection with those we have loved and lost. As you read the prompts below you will start to notice thoughts and feelings that are unique and personal to your relationship with the person you are thinking of.
Here are few thoughts about how to approach these hello again prompts: You might feel comfortable writing this down on paper, typing it out in a word document or an email, sharing a post on social media, talking out loud in a special place, or simply thinking about what comes to mind. You do not have to answer each prompt, and you do not have to focus on these from top to bottom. Instead, you can read the list and start with whatever prompt resonates with you.
- “My most treasured memory of you is…” Think about meaningful moments you shared with your loved one. What is it about these moments that make them special?
- “What I have always wanted to tell you or ask you is…” This is where you might explore unspoken truths or unasked questions. We can find healing when we give words to things unspoken or unasked.
- “What I now realize is…” Grief and bereavement teach us a great deal about ourselves, our loved ones, and our relationships. Share what you have learned.
- “I want to keep you in my life by…” Relationships are personal and unique, and your answer to this question will be personal and unique.
The gift of this exercise can be found in the way you’re feeling after opening yourself to saying, “hello again” to those you have loved and lost. You might feel a general sense of relief, or you might notice a complicated emotion that is starting to feel less overwhelming. You may be surprised by the kinds of thoughts that came to mind in the form of a new insight or realization. You might find that you’re feeling an increased sense of connection to your loved one.
Seasons is here to offer hope and support during a time of profound change in your life. We have bereavement specialists who can help support you and connect you to resources that can help. If you would like more resources on grief, you can also visit the Seasons Patient & Family resource center for free on-demand educational videos and articles.
About the Author: Joshua Magariel, LCSW, is a National Director of Patient Experience at Seasons Hospice & Palliative Care. Josh specializes in grief and loss education and support as well as marriage and family therapy. Josh is a national presenter and author on creative applications of attachment theory in grief therapy. Josh earned his B.A. in Religious Studies at the University of Kansas and his MSW at the University of Denver. Josh has completed an AAMFT accredited Certificate in Marriage and Family Therapy from the Denver Family Institute. Josh is a ten-year veteran of hospice, having served in patient care, bereavement, leadership, and education.