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Overcoming Grief from the Loss of a Loved One

Posted on 09 September 2013, 11:01

Basically, as I have observed it over 76 years of living, there are four ways of grieving and dealing with the death of a loved one:

1 - Uncontrolled Despair – characterized by uncontrolled outward behavior, including wailing, collapsing, turning to alcohol and drugs, shutting out others, and utter hopelessness, possibly even suicide.

2.  Controlled Despair –  characterized by controlled outward behavior but with great anguish, despondency, and inner turmoil; avoids the self-centeredness and destructive behavior of the uncontrolled griever; might display hopelessness or little hope based on blind faith.  .


3. Stoic Resignation – characterized by very little outward display of emotion while quickly returning to one’s usual routine; difficult to tell if the person lives with any religious hope.   

4. Contemplative Expectation – characterized by significant sadness but with hopefulness based on the conviction that the loved one lives on in another dimension of reality and that there will be a reunion with that loved one in the future.

The line separating controlled despair from stoic resignation is often blurred, and for some people those four ways of dealing with grief are stages.  The person might begin with uncontrolled despair, move to controlled despair after a week or two, and then to stoic resignation after a month or so   However, I have encountered only a few people who have started with number 4.  Usually, they arrive there after many months of searching and seeking for answers and comfort.  .

In his book, Soul Shift, Mark Ireland (below) explains how he was able to move into the fourth group after the death of his 18-year-old son Brandon on January 10, 2004, the result of a severe asthma attack and heart failure while hiking in some rugged Arizona mountains. 


“Initially after this tragic event I mourned, cried, and struggled to carry on,” Ireland writes.  “After a little while I began to heal, even though I still missed Brandon very much.  In the time that passed, first months then years, I actually began to feel in a strange and almost wonderful way that everything in my life led me to this point. As difficult as this loss was for me to accept, perhaps it was actually necessary for my own evolution.”

Ireland had something of an advantage over most people, as his father, Richard Ireland, was a medium and Spiritualist minister before he transitioned in 1992.  “His talents included clairvoyance, precognition, x-ray clairvoyance, spirit communication, and much more,” Ireland explains, going on to say that he did not really appreciate his father’s gifts until after Brandon transitioned.  He just took them for granted and didn’t give them much thought until after that tragic day in 2004.  .

Two days after Brandon’s passing over, Ireland received a phone call from his uncle, Robert,  who, like his brother, also had mediumistic ability, although not as developed.  He told Mark that he had heard from Mark’s father, who said that Brandon was initially confused when he left the body, but he (grandfather Richard) was there to greet him and help him adjust.  He explained that Brandon’s heart failed due to lack of oxygen , and while he experienced shortness of breath, he felt no pain.  At the time, the cause of Brandon’s death was unknown, although the skeptic’s would call it a logical guess by the uncle along with wishful thinking.

About seven months later, Mark Ireland consulted renowned medium Allison DuBois, receiving much in the way of evidential information, including a comment, “Exit stage left,” something Richard observed Mark and his sister often humor over when watching a favorite cartoon character, Snaglepuss, during their childhood years.  Most comforting was communication from Brandon, who told his father that he was often with his grandfather.

“What had begun with Brandon and a wish not to absolutely lose someone I loved so much had turned into a quest to find the elusive meaning behind life and death and perhaps even to discover that no one is really lost,” Ireland explains.  “Brandon was central to my search, but he was no longer the only target.”

Continuing his quest, Mark sat with mediums Linda Williamson, Jamie Clark, and Laurie Campbell, receiving evidential communication and comforting words from all of them. .  Through Clark, Richard Ireland congratulated Mark and his wife, Susie, on having recently celebrated their 25th anniversary, a very evidential message.  Clark described Brandon’s death, saying that Brandon was showing him cactus and “desert stuff,” and that someone had stayed with him while someone else went for help, facts which were confirmed as fact. 

When Steven, Brandon’s older brother, sat with Clark, he was told that Brandon was referencing a photo in which they had their arms around each other.  There were mountains in the background and something like a bridge or rail behind them.  The medium said it reminded him of Hawaii.  Although Steven couldn’t immediately remember the photo, his mother later located it.  The picture had been taken at an elevated lookout in Hawaii some five years earlier, a wooden rail behind them, and both boys with arms around each other. 

Mark Ireland came to realize that there is much “static” in the messages coming through mediums, as the mediums must interpret what they are seeing or hearing and sometimes interpret it wrong or are unable to interpret it at all. “The gaps and frustrating fragments must speak to the real separation of the realms and their meanings,” he writes, accepting the fact that the “hits” he received during his sittings were far beyond chance guessing and did not result from “cold reading” or “fishing,” as the debunkers would claim.

While Ireland sees mediumship as an imperfect form of communication, he says that it definitely help alleviate his residual pain. “It also provided me with great confidence – not only in life after death but in confirming that I was on the right path and that the things happening in my life were beyond coincidence.” He adds that it took Brandon’s physical death for him to begin seeing things in more philosophical and spiritual terms, while seeking out deeper meaning.

“When something like this happens, you have two options,” Ireland offers.  “You can either give up on life or move forward, directing your energy toward something positive, to help other people.”  As cofounder of Helping Parents Heal, Ireland is doing just that.  See for more information on that organization.  He is also working on a second book, Messages From The Afterlife: A Bereaved Father’s Journey In The World Of Spirit Visitations, Psychic-Mediums, And Synchronicity, due to be released this December.

Mark’s website is at

Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die is published by White Crow Books. His latest book, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife is now available on Amazon and other online book stores. 

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Next blog: post:  September 9  

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World Madness and Nihilism go Hand-in-Hand – The madness, craziness, and turmoil we see in the world today seems to have slowly developed in line with the growth of mass communication during the twentieth century, reaching an unimagined deep crater in recent years. As Air Chief Marshal Lord Dowding (Sir Hugh Dowding, 1882 – 1970), put it in his 1960 book, "God’s Magic," “The problem of world chaos is linked very closely with the chaos in the mind of humanity.” Dowding is considered by many as the man most responsible for Great Britain’s victory in the 1940 Battle of Britain during World War II. “Man insists on looking outward for causes instead of looking inward. As with the individual, so with a nation. An individual who has an unquiet spirit will have an unquiet environment.” Read here
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