Suffering the death loss of a person reminds us of our mortality and can make our daily pursuits daunting. But, when life seems darkest, that's when a light of hope on the horizon becomes most visible. Let's explore what hope is, what it isn't, and how it factors into grieving your person's death loss.
What Is Hope?
Psychologists define hope as an expectation of a positive experience or belief that a negative experience will not occur. The definition also encompasses the expectation of a negative experience leading to a positive outcome.
Psychologists treat hope as:
● A character trait
● An emotion
● A motivation
● A coping mechanism
However, this definition does not capture the way most people feel about hope. For many of us, hope can exist even if the desired outcome seems remote. Hope represents an anticipation of a positive experience even if expectations of it remain low when viewed this way.
What Hope Is Not
Hope is not a denial of reality. Expecting something good to happen that has zero chance of occurring does not represent hope; it's false hope. Hope does not turn darkness into light. Instead, hope is the acknowledgment that light exists amidst the darkness, no matter how far off in the distance it appears.
Hope After Loss
We know that hope can emerge with time for those of us who have suffered a death loss. It's false hope to believe that life will go back to the way things were. But it is hopeful to know that life can go on filled with love and memories of our person. The challenge is to learn that grief becomes a life-long companion and how to navigate that. For many, this companion may become comforting as one smiles and reminisces about their person and how they've shaped who we've grown to be.
Grief is an experience. It's false hope to believe it's something to be fixed. Time and this understanding allow us finally to experience hope and, with it, peace.
If you need us, join one of our Bereavement Support Groups. Or, if you know someone who does, refer us.