Like most of us, I have always been taught that there are stages of grief, stages that provide an orderly process that one will follow as one embarks upon their journey of grief after the loss of a loved one. I have also been taught that people die and we must learn to "move on" after their death.
Well, that's just not how I see it.
There is the well-known Kübler-Ross model, commonly referred to as the five stages of grief, which offers a series of emotional stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. There is also the equally touted Seven Stages of Grief: shock and denial; pain and guilt; anger and bargaining; depression and reflection; upward turn; reconstruction; acceptance and hope. Each model proposes that you will journey through these stages along your way to acceptance. Each model is predicated upon the concept of death.
It is widely accepted that we must learn to "move on" after the passing of a loved one. Just ask most doctors, therapists and credentialed professionals. Why, even Dr. Phil advised a woman it was time to "move on" because her child was gone and is not coming back.
I choose -- and offer -- a different path of "moving forward with" our loved ones. I believe in the transition of souls and the eternity of spirit, rather than the notion of death. I believe there is a forever connection between souls that continues after the passing of a loved one, rather than the idea that someone is gone upon their passing. Oh, the relationship is certainly changed in the most profound way, but our loved ones are simply gone from the physical state, not gone from our hearts, not gone from our minds, and neither should they be. In fact, I believe in the forever tether between souls, especially of parents and children.
I have found that gratitude is my foundation, for ever having had this beautiful soul in my life. I incorporate my daughter's memory into my life, and "move forward with" her. I do not "move on" without her. I know she hears me and I certainly hear her. There are countless signs of our forever connection.
For me, since the passing of my daughter, I encountered what I would describe as phases and swirls, interestingly, all somehow often muddled together, with much crossover. These phases included the aforementioned stages, but there is a difference, a profound difference. As I encounter the swirls of these emotions, I do so upon a platform of a forever connection.
This process of grieving allows me to remain on a path toward celebration -- to one day actually have the strength, understanding and vision to celebrate my daughter's destiny, this final journey she was called upon to take. To actually understand and feel that my daughter, Cait Chivonne, is always right here with me, "moving with me," as I continue to embrace the gift of each day and celebrate the complete cycle of life, until my time comes to pass along beyond the confines of this Earth and dimension, to be forever and eternally united within the energy of the universe.
While I do not propose that I have all the answers. I know that I am part of the conversation. Let the conversation begin.
Deb Carlin Polhill is the author of Love, Honor, Celebrate: A Mother's Journey of Transition, one mother's journey and first-hand account upon the passing of her child and how she chose to handle it.