Dr. Alan Wolfelt, a grief counselor for more than 40 years and a renowned author and expert in all things related to grief and mourning, was asked by many of his clients to write about the loss of a soulmate, and this wonderful book, “When Your Soulmate Dies: A Guide to Healing Through Heroic Mourning,” is the result.
Love and grief are “two sides of the same precious coin,” he writes, as we cannot have grief without love. Even though Dr. Wolfelt does not rank grief, he acknowledges the fact that the more deeply we love, the more deeply we grieve.
Soulmate grief is born out of a unique, profound connection and love between two people when that attachment is torn apart. Usually, but not always, the soulmate is a lover, spouse or partner. A soulmate can also be a friend, a sibling or a child. Soulmate grief is more devastating than any other grief we may have experienced in the past and requires what Wolfelt calls “heroic mourning.” He analogizes heroic mourning to an epic quest, a dangerous and lonely journey through the wilderness that requires “larger than life” bravery, sacrifice, commitment, adventure, and loyalty.
Wolfelt identifies “Six Needs of Heroic Mourning,” which are not to be confused with stages or steps. Rather, they are necessary processes that are undertaken in varying orders over the course of the grief journey. They can overlap and be revisited again and again. The ultimate goal, Wolfelt writes, is to reconcile our epic grief in such a way that we can find meaning and purpose again and move forward in recreating our life without our soulmate in it.
The first of these needs is to acknowledge the reality of your soulmate’s death. As painful as that is, it is essential. Second, embrace the pain of the loss. This is a place where bravery and commitment are required and where we can feel lost for a very long time because it is so profoundly wide and deep.
The remaining four needs of heroic mourning are:
• Remember your soulmate.
• Develop a new self-identity.
• Search for meaning.
• Receive ongoing support from others.
Wolfelt assures us we can attain this goal. He writes, “The skills it takes to succeed at your grief quest are the same skills you mastered as a soulmate.” You value what really matters in life; you excel at companionship; you appreciate the joy of laughter; you know how to be vulnerable; you know how to persevere; you master at selflessness and sacrifice; and you think of life as an adventure.
At Pathways of HopeSM, we wish you well on your great quest through grief. Please call us if we can be of service to you and accompany you on your grief journey.
Pathways of HopeSM Grief Counseling Centers
Ohio’s Hospice offers grief and bereavement support through our Pathways of HopeSM Grief Counseling Centers, which provide a variety of services to the communities we serve. Support and education are provided by a team of counselors and social workers, all with significant experience and expertise in assisting grieving children, adolescents and adults. For more information about Pathways of Hope, click here.