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KayC

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Why do People Think we Move On After Death?

I always wanted an imaginary friend as a child, but my mind wouldn’t stretch far enough. I envied kids who genuinely managed to conjure the idea of someone else’s presence because I guessed they were never lonely. They always had someone to play with and talk to.

It wasn’t until I was about 24 that I finally knew what it was like to keep company with someone no one else could see. That was the year my mother died. And after a lifetime of having relationships exclusively with people here on our earthly plane, I learned how to love someone who doesn’t physically exist.

For a little while after my mother’s death, I mourned what I thought was a complete and total loss. But then, after a month or so went by, I began to see her presence everywhere. And unlike before, she wasn’t anchored to the world. She was everywhere and nowhere, and I found I could talk to her and keep her close.

Though not nearly enough to ease my grief, her continued presence was a comforting realization. One I hadn’t considered possible. I used to think you were either here or there. I didn’t realize there was an in-between. Or that my mother would leave an infinite echo behind when she died.

Accommodating a new type of relationship:

In the 1950s, developmental psychologist Jean Piaget introduced the idea of assimilation and accommodation as a means to understand children's intellectual development.

Of course, Piaget's theory of cognitive development is complex and most often applied to children. But, I find the idea of assimilation and accommodation stands on its own and can be helpful in understanding situations throughout our lifespan.

Basically, Piaget said people have specific frameworks for understanding the world and everything in it. He called these frameworks schemas. He said that when a person is faced with an experience that is new or unfamiliar, they first try to understand it using their existing framework (or schema). This is what he called assimilation.

If they cannot assimilate their experience, they must change or build upon their current understanding to accommodate the new reality. Through accommodation, the mind is stretched, and another layer of nuance is added to the world. And this is what I think sometimes happens after a loss. When a person's eyes are open to the possibility that people who are gone aren't really gone, they restructure their understanding of the world to accommodate this new reality.

Personally, to accommodate an ongoing relationship with my mother, I had to open my mind to dimensions of love, attachment, family, and connection that I never knew existed. It wasn't until the experience of loss forced me to redefine these things that I could have fully understood how it was possible.

Why do people think we move on after death?

Someone recently asked us, "Why do people think we move on after death?" I have a few responses to this question. But one of my best guesses is, many of us have to learn the truth about grief for ourselves. Before experiencing loss, many people have a framework (or schema) that doesn't accommodate an ongoing experience. Perhaps, in large part, because they've been told otherwise.

It's worth noting that a recent century of grief theory led us to believe that "moving on" was the goal. Throughout most of the 20th century, the idea that grief evolves through stages or phases reigned supreme. And these goalposts end with things like "detachment," "recovery," "acceptance," or "new life." Whether intended or not (and often it wasn't), the message received was that it's healthy to get over it and move on. [Continued on WYG]

 

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Grieving on Social Media: Coping with Common Frustrations

Social media like Instagram, Facebook, Tick Tock, and Twitter have become a significant dimension of many people’s lives. We’re not here to debate whether this is good or bad. Some will say social media is a great connector, while others will complain it’s a scourge on our society, but love or hate it–it isn’t going anywhere.

There are countless ways to use social media, and individual relationships with it vary. Generally speaking, it’s good advice to understand your own relationship with social media. And this being a grief website, we’re going to take things a step further and suggest you consider how you feel about grieving on social media. If grief impacts your day-to-day life, and social media is a part of your daily life, then it stands to reason that the two will intersect.

Of course, there are positive impacts of grieving on social media. For example, you can give and receive support, share your experiences and emotions, or honor and remember. As an organization with several social media communities and who’ve even written about starting your own grief blog, Instagram, or Podcast, we fully acknowledge the benefits.

But, these good things aren’t what this article is about. Instead, we want to discuss some of the more common frustrations related to grieving on social media, and offer a few simple suggestions for dealing with them.

5 Common Frustrations of Grieving on Social Media

1. You’ve noticed that your predominant feeling when scrolling social media is unpleasant.

Have you ever noticed that during or after looking at social media, you experience thoughts and emotions akin to sadness, anger, bitterness, or shame? If the answer is “yes,” it may be a sign that social media is setting you off.

The reasons may vary. Perhaps it’s annoying to see other people’s curated lives when you feel like crap. Maybe the platform’s serving you content that conflicts with your your outlook, mood, or opinions. Or, possibly, other people grieving on social media are posting things about your loved one, their grief, or their life post-loss that bother you. Whatever it is, it would probably be helpful to identify the types of posts that are upsetting you and minimize them.

Tip: Don’t be afraid to hit the unfollow button

You don’t realize how calming using the “unfollow” button will make you feel until you try. We know some of you might be hesitant to unfollow people because they are your friends or family, which makes sense. And ultimately, you may decide it’s worth tolerating a few annoying posts to see pics of your cousin’s wedding or your old friend’s newborn baby. Like in real life, when you love someone, you take the good with the bad.

However, if you find that following a person’s feed has an overall negative impact on your relationship, unfollowing might be just the thing to save it. Sometimes it’s best to keep a relationship offline, and that’s okay!

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Other Articles From WYG

 

January Virtual CEU Training

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Understanding the Grief of Traumatic Loss

Date: Tuesday, January 18, 2022 Credits: 3
Time: 1:00pm-4:15pm EST Place: Online
$50 for registration with CEs, $30 for registration without CEs

This live, online training will provide clinicians a framework for understanding the grief of traumatic loss, specifically exploring the relationship between acute stress, trauma, and grief. The session will identify the impact of trauma responses on bereavement and appropriate intervention. Building on the shattered assumptions theory of trauma and post-traumatic growth research, clinicians will learn practice approaches to support clients who have experienced traumatic losses and indications that referral for trauma treatment is appropriate.

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foreverhis

Thanks, Kay. This is really good and might be useful to send to our analytical friends or family who see things less through emotions and more through science.

While I am a rational empiricist, I have also always lived through emotions and the faith that there is far more to our glorious universe than our human minds can possibly comprehend. John and I left the specific religion of our youths, but never lost our faith. Some days it’s still all that keeps me going.

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It's not religion that keeps us, it's our faith and knowing the One...

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foreverhis
3 hours ago, KayC said:

It's not religion that keeps us, it's our faith and knowing the One...

It is. Sometimes it’s hard to get people to really understand that.

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