There are many kinds of bereavement, not just the loss of a loved one by death. We each die many times in a lifetime. We may experience the death of an ambition, a love or a relationship, the loss of youth and, perhaps most common of all today, the loss of one’s job. Being declared redundant is for many a loss of identity, for if I can no longer say I am a builder, a mechanic, a teacher, a postman, then who am I?
How we deal with each death will determine how we deal with our eventual departure from this life. I recall what a physiotherapist who worked at St Michael’s Hospice in Hereford once said to me. She observed how those who had learned to let go with each minor death were the ones who were able to die simply, whereas those who had resisted every change in their life and had not learned how to let go, had the hardest deaths. We have to learn how to be flexible, as in the Shaker hymn, ‘Simple Gifts’:
’Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free
’Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be …
To bow and to bend we shan’t be ashamed
To turn, turn, will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning, we come round right!