Each week, spiritual teacher Deepak Chopra responds to Oprah.com users' questions with enlightening advice to help them live their best lives.
Q: About five years ago, I lost my 21-year-old son to suicide. Of course I was devastated. I was a single parent with Dustin until he was about 12 years old. I can't help but feel that some of the choices I made affected his life in a negative way. I have a lot of guilt, and I miss him terribly. Although it has gotten easier to live with this loss, I do feel stuck in my grief a lot of the time, and I really want to move on with my life and live again. I know my son lives on the other side—I get signs from him, and I've had friends that have been to psychics tell me different things. I know it in my head, but dealing with it in my heart and soul is a different thing. I need to release myself from this guilt and move on with my life and do what I believe I am supposed to be doing now that Dustin is gone. He was so loved, and I still get emails from his friends telling me how much he helped them in their lives. Please, how do I let go of the guilt and go on with my life—not just go through the motions, but really start to live again?
— Linda B., Sun City, California
I get the feeling you are actually living a life that is productive, not crippled by grief. If you are asking how to be entirely grief-free, most mothers would attest that it isn't possible. Accept that grief can be a normal, manageable emotion. Your bond with Dustin is based on love, and when love is lost, it can still be love, but with associations of sadness, regret and guilt. So the realistic question is this: Can you have love-with-grief that is life-enhancing for you? I think the answer is yes. It's a matter of making the love always greater than the grief.
May I suggest turning to productive expressions of love for your departed son? Here are a few:
Keep a journal in which you enter the feelings you have for him every day. Fill this journal with loving remembrances, but also be honest about whatever emotion is present that day. Be complete and thorough. When you have finished an entry, bless your son and do something you really enjoy.
Set aside a few minutes every day to send love to your son and ask for love in return. Make this silent communion a ritual that only you know about.
Talk about your son with his friends when they send emails. Don't try to isolate yourself. Shared feelings become easier to manage.
Go to group meetings with other people who are grieving. Make it your intention to help them more than to help yourself. Being of service helps ease painful feelings.
Identify the things that bring you down when they are about your son. Some people may bring out these feelings, or maybe it's photos or memorabilia—anything that makes grief sharper. Minimize such experiences. Indulging in the suffering of grief is not what you are about.
I hope these suggestions help. Grief is always difficult, but it is part of being human, and learning to allow grief to move as it wants to is important.