We can hardly turn on our TVs without seeing promos that reveal a child who died 32 years ago returning to his parents on ABC's new Sunday night drama, Resurrection.
We listen to the promo lyrics, "I'm coming home. I'm coming home. Tell the world I am coming home. Let the rain wash away all the pain of yesterday."
And many of us think about loss we have experienced in our own life and wish we could wash away our own pain.
The promos pose this question: What if someone you lost returned?
As someone who has made a lifelong pursuit of helping people through grief, I can tell you that "what if" is a very common question. It is natural to wonder what it would be like to get a second chance at parenthood, being a son or daughter, being in love or at any relationship that was precious to us.
My very talented friend, the acclaimed Frances Fisher (Titanic) is no exception. She experienced loss at a young age and she draws upon her own experiences as she plays one of the lead characters in Resurrection -- the mother of the young boy who reappears.
This week she told me about her pride in being part of a show that opens up what she hopes will be useful discussions around a topic that most people don't want to talk about -- death.
Frances and I talked about how for some -- especially those mourning a recent death or parents who have lost children -- this show may be too hard to watch. That's OK. Honor your own grief process.
I wanted to write about Resurrection not just because it appears to be a fascinating new show, but because the reality is that whether you watch the show or not there are "what if" triggers everywhere -- at the grocery story, when we hear a particular song or when we bump into an old friend.
Grief can be challenging and these triggers can be extremely painful. My hope is that this new show will afford us an opportunity to practice how we handle those triggers and move forward with more peace.
Below are three steps for dealing with "what if" triggers.
1. Embrace the magic. Thinking "what if my loved one didn't die" is magical thinking and it can be helpful. Sometimes it's a welcome break from pain. Recognize it and embrace it, but don't stay in that place.
2. Use that magical thinking to ask yourself what the person who died represented. Did the person represent love in your life? Did they bring adventure that's no longer with you? Did they represent hope? Security? Unrealized dreams? Understanding what specifically your loved one represented is important in healing.
3. Create new magic. You can't bring your loved one back, but you can look for ways to seek out the qualities that you miss most. Ask yourself what your loved one who died would want you to be doing with the rest of your life. Thinking this way brings us closer to actively designing a new future.
It's normal to fanaticize and want a do over. Moving forward is realizing that our do over is right now. There IS a new life in front of you -- one that your loved one would want you to live. What if you embraced that magic?