The fact that death is as natural as birth in no way lessens our fear or denial of it.
And yet, our sadness or grief in the face of loss is a testament to our enduring interconnectedness. It confirms the sacred continuation of relationship beyond the longevity of our physical form.
The timeless bonds between beings are not just limited to humans. Elephants have been observed to perform burial rituals for their dead and to return to the place of the death even after removal of remains. Other animals such as dolphins, whales and baboons have been found to carry dead offspring with them for days.
Among many animals, emotional attachment after death is evident in the behavioral changes that surviving family members exhibit (Safina 2015), even though there may be great variation across and within species in the experience vs expression of emotion (Ristau 2016).
In people, acknowledging grief in its various forms and phases has been found to help with acceptance and recovery from loss. Studies of mourning rituals have shown that, in the wake of the death of a loved one, people benefit from such rituals (Norton and Gino 2014). Not only does ritual provide a sense of control, but more importantly perhaps, honoring the deceased reminds us of the ever-present quality of love itself: that love does in fact survive the harsh physicality of death.
“Loved and Lost” is an online platform created by Manchester based documentary photographer Simon Bray that posts photos of individuals with their loved ones who have died, and the life stories that accompany the photos. Bray invites participants to revisit the location in which the photograph was originally taken and to reflect on their memories and experience of love and loss.
Bray states: “May this be a process through which a loved one can be remembered and through which memories can be re-lived. Even though the pain of the loss may remain, may this go some way in relieving the hurt and the stigma of death.”
Check it out: http://www.lovedandlostproject.co.uk