Grief and Healing
“After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill—the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill—you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes. Remember: all I’m offering is the truth. Nothing more.”
– Morpheus | The Matrix, 1999
I wouldn’t say I was asleep before the loss.
As a child, I was very in touch with my gifts of intuition and an openness to spiritual realms. But then I lost my mother. My father. Aunts. All of my grandparents.
The losses accumulated and little by little I ignored my gifts; closing myself off from them to be able to function in this world that demands of us every day. I voluntarily entered a cocoon for comfort, to retreat away from deeper knowledge and understanding.
Then I met Derek, my beloved. He reintroduced me to that part of myself that I had hidden away and cut off communication with. I made peace with God and myself as a spiritual being and the gateway to awareness unlocked.
Yet, I was still living comfortably in my cocoon with all of its luxuries.
When he passed, I again saw signs and synchronicity. I could have gone back to ignoring these messages focusing solely on work, paying bills and going through the motions of a “regular” life. But I did not want to forget , not continue to ignore this part of myself that Derek had brought back to my attention as I had done as part of my coping mechanism with the passing of my mother, father and the rest of the family. Instead, I followed the signs which led me into an understanding and awareness I couldn’t possibly imagine.
Like the character Neo in The Matrix, suddenly the warm, womb-like chamber I had rested in peacefully emptied itself, broke open, and ejected me painfully into the cold and the dark.
Despite my desire to embrace this part of myself, I still tried to crawl back into the cocoon and suture it up with blissful ignorance for a period after Derek’s death. What I hadn’t immediately realized was that the cocoon was destroyed and I could not go back because the butterfly had already emerged. I couldn’t return into a space that no longer fit it and covered up my beautiful wings.
I was changed forever.
“Do not try and bend the spoon, that’s impossible. Instead, only try to realize the truth—there is no spoon. Then you’ll see that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself.”
– A Potential to Neo | The Matrix
Before the loss, I experienced the physical world through the lens of my mind – what I could see and touch. As things began to “happen to me” that I couldn’t make sense of, I realized I had to shift my understanding to allow the possibility that in death the prevalent identity of the body shifts into a new identity – Consciousness.
Now here is where we can get into verses from the Bible or quantum theory discussions and scientific claims, but this is not the point that I am trying to make.
When I look up into the stars from my apartment, I can feel that there is a world and Universe bigger than myself. There are forces that affect events that take place that we cannot explain. Once, there was a time when we believed it was impossible to go to the moon or travel beyond our own star. “The discovery of these things were possible because we allowed our minds to be flexible and entertain the possibility that there was something greater beyond our imagination.
So could we be flexible in allowing the possibility that we can still connect with our loved ones even though they are not physically present?
Would you like to try?
[Please have a notebook or paper handy and read the exercise through first so you know what to do]
Sit in a comfortable space with the lights dimmed and music/TV/phone off.
Place your feet on the floor so you feel grounded.
Close your eyes and take a deep breath through your nose and out through your mouth.
Imagine yourself walking down a long hall filled with soft white light.
This hallway has many doors, both on the left and right sides.
You walk down this hall feeling relaxed, taking easy steps.
You instinctually stop at the door that you are meant to open.
You open the door and see a beautiful room decorated in soft pink and white hues.
You are completely relaxed.
In this space you can ask your loved one a question. Wait for a couple of moments.
You may receive an answer in the form of a thought, an image or a song.
You may sit in this space for as long as you like. And when you are ready, you may leave the room as you walk back down the hallway and open your eyes.
What did you receive? Write it down.
You can try this short exercise anytime you wish. But it is a good example of what is possible to experience if we allow ourselves to change our thinking for even a brief moment.
Your mind may tell you that what you heard or saw was not real. That your conscious did not connect with another conscious.
And it is OK to doubt but ask yourself in the moment that you were in the presence of your beloved, did you feel unsafe or foolish or did you feel the depth of love or peace with your loved one?
If you felt love and warmth, is it unrealistic to bend your mind like the spoon and allow yourself to experience that re-assuring moment whenever you are feeling depleted?
As those still here living, seeking the truth and being aware as to where our loved ones go when they pass will not make the journey without them easier, but it does provide a gateway that when we need them the most we can connect to their healing love.
IN LOVE & LIGHT
I’m listening to the radio and the host mentioned how excited she is for Thanksgiving to be coming up next week. I didn’t even realize how quickly it came up.
Before, I would have had my Thanksgiving Day reservation made at Boulevard Five72 and a complete menu for the day after Thanksgiving all prepared by November 1st!
Now, the holidays approach like a regular day for me and I can almost slip through it unnoticed – until the invites come flooding in from friends asking for me to celebrate with them.
Of course I am always grateful, but the holidays after a loss is hard.
Even when you are surrounded by loving family and friends, sometimes it’s still not the same.
Through the smiles and laughter, there are times when a deep sadness peeps through and I wish I was home surrounded by what was familiar.
So, all of this is to say that I know that for some, the holidays may not be easy to navigate. In fact it may be downright hard.
I’ve come to realize that while the holidays will not be the same – some years will be good, some passable and some not so good – I had to give myself permission to do the holidays my way.
I focus on one day at a time and allow myself to do what makes me feel good, even if it means not following the expectations of what others may want me to do.
Every year, Derek and I engaged in our own holiday traditions. One of those would be to go to Bethlehem, PA to look at the Christmas lights and watch Santa ride through town on his Clydesdale-drawn sleigh.
I had a need to continue the tradition even though he was not physically here – so one morning, I just got into the car and drove to PA. The experience was different as it wasn’t during the night as I was used to doing. I also didn’t see Santa, but funnily enough I ended up having a good time exploring the Christmas shops and museums. I let go of expectations and gave myself permission to experience the tradition in a different way.
There are no expectations for you to be able to get through every day smiling and happy and that is ok even if others do not understand.
SO GIVE YOURSELF PERMISSION TO DO WHATEVER YOU NEED TO DO TO GET THROUGH THE COMING WEEKS.
If you want to stay in and create a voice message that says you are “Out of the Office”–
Book a trip for the holidays or indulge in something that makes you happy.
Leave a party early or not attend at all.
Give yourself permission to let the energy flow however you need it to.
YOU DO NOT NEED TO PLEASE EVERYONE
AND KNOW THAT EACH YEAR WILL BE DIFFERENT.
I used to go to South Carolina to spend the holidays with my best friend and her family. The warm weather and running after my nieces would help me to reset.
This Thanksgiving is a toss-up of spending it with friends or taking an impromptu trip up north. Or I may make lavender and white chocolate cocoa, put on my favorite sweats and binge watch movies.
For Christmas, I always hold an annual Cookie Swap party in early December. However, this year, I have not given a single thought to the actual day and that is ok. Whatever I decide on, I know it will be what I want to do to make me happy. It will be what my soul needs.
SO YOUR MISSION – IF YOU CHOOSE TO ACCEPT IT – IS TO DO EXACTLY WHAT YOU WANT TO DO, WHATEVER MAKES YOU HAPPY OR CONTENT. THAT’S ALL THAT YOU NEED TO THINK ABOUT. ♥
Sending love and light always.
RECIPE FOR LAVENDER & WHITE CHOCOLATE COCOA
Combine all of these ingredients into a small container to use whenever you want this indulgent treat.
¼ cup powdered milk
½ cup vanilla pudding mix
1 cup white chocolate, shaved
2 tbsp lavender
In a small saucepan, add ¼ cup of the Hot Chocolate Mixture into 1 ¼ cups of milk. Stir until heated through and the chocolate has melted.
Strain to remove the lavender and Enjoy!
Image by © Andreaobzerova
In grief, we create distractions — working harder, drinking, writing, drugs, traveling, volunteering, gambling. Whether or not they serve the highest good for us, the distractions wrap us up like a warm blanket, creating a white noise around our screaming hearts.
I have several distractions shared between work, classes, my meditation and Reiki practice, writing my book, Sunday drives, volunteering and meeting up with numerous friends. For the last two years, just about every day/night has been filled with an activity. But there have been moments, when a pocket of free time finds its way to me.
And that is when I feel the “chaos.”
The physics meaning of “chaos” is “behavior so unpredictable as to appear random owing to great sensitivity to small changes in conditions.” But the chaos of grief is that it was the result of a MASSIVE change in our lives. And the “unpredictable behavior” is a response to quelling the pain so that we do not fully lose ourselves. For myself I quell the noise by going to the casino.
When Derek was alive, we used to go to the casino only when my hand “itched” or when Derek had a dream of our number 123. And just as sure as we were of our intuition, we would head to AC to Empire and win a handsome amount. We would then treat ourselves to a celebratory dinner or brunch (if we stayed up all night) and would tuck the rest away for safe-keeping. Sometimes we would go to AC just to walk the boardwalk just enjoying the lights, music and energy of the place.
After he passed, when I hand would itch I would go to the casino and hear Derek direct me to the slots — I would play and stop just when telepathically he would say that the machines were done. While I was winning money, being at the casino felt empty and yet I also felt anchored to a memory that had implanted memories of me and Derek deeply into myself. For me, the money did not matter as long as I was able to pretend for a moment that Derek was alive and with me. And so my “chaos” became driving to Empire Casino regardless of if my hand itched or not. Sometimes I would just sit and not play listening to the ringing of the Slot machines around me watching people win and lose. And sometimes I would play and lose big. Last night was one of those nights. But as I drove the solitary road back over the Tappan Zee bridge, I heard my voice tell me that I was trading one pain for another.
I woke up with those words still ringing in my ears along with the song “Breathe Me” by Sia.
Just as portrayed in the video below, grief pulls all the “sides” of us out that are hurting and depressed — the child, the playful joker, the mother, the friend, or the lover. And in those moments when we feel like we’re falling we find support in outlets that do not serve our highest good. However, it is also important to embrace and celebrate those moments because in them we find our greatest strength. And we also realize that the work that we do for ourselves is not just for us but for all others who feel like falling.
So in the realization of being aware of my “crutch” I do not judge myself but lovingly know that every day is a new day to listen to our inner experience and reassure myself that whatever I have experienced in “that past moment” will not become my “NOW moment.” There will be many times when I will fall but I am now aware that each one makes me wiser and more graceful in navigating my choices. There are no mistakes in life as each event brings us into an opportunity to unconditionally love and accept ourselves and others.
Lyrics: “Breathe Me” – Sia
I have been here many times before
Hurt myself again today
And the worst part is there’s no one else to blame
Be my friend
Hold me, wrap me up
I am small and needy
Warm me up
And breathe me
Ouch I have lost myself again
Lost myself and I am nowhere to be found,
Yeah I think that I might break
I’ve lost myself again and I feel unsafe
Be my friend
Hold me, wrap me up
I am small and needy
Warm me up
And breathe me
Be my friend
Hold me, wrap me up
I am small and needy
Warm me up
And breathe me
A BEAUTIFUL story that shows how the pathways of grief is felt energetically and physically — but that deep emotions and love never ends.
Lawrence Anthony, a renowned conservationist passed away on March 7th. Two days later, his family witnessed the solemn procession of formerly violent and rogue elephants that traveled 12 hours to pay their respects to their rescuer.
While most mammals show only a passing interest in the passing of their own, elephants are spiritually recognizant of those who’ve passed over (even over long distances) and congregate to mourn those they love.
To read more about Lawrence Anthony and on this amazing story click here.
In need of getting some fresh air to clear my mind, I went down the block to Nyack Beach. This weekend has been a difficult one for me as I feel Derek’s physical absence more than I have within the last 2 months. Someone once described the loss of a husband/partner with the loss of a limb. You can’t see it — but you feel the limb as well as the incompleteness of it being missing. It’s a terrible mental and emotional pain that doesn’t go away.
The “beach” which is really more of a hiking/bike trail with picnic benches lies next to Hook Mountain and is adjacent to the Hudson River. It’s always been a favorite Sunday ritual for Derek and myself to walk along the paths snapping pictures and enjoying each other’s company.
I picked a quiet picnic table to sit and read my new book — The Afterlife Connection, which examines a psychotherapists’ experience with afterlife communication and how our bond with loved ones is not just psychological. I was on a chapter that discussed how our loved ones are always around to provide signs so as long as we are open to the connection and can recognize their signs when sent. As I began reading a case study on a young woman reaching out to her father in spirit about a career decision, a bee landed on the book and started moving side to side as if it were reading the page with me. Not looking to get stung, I gently tilted the book down for the bee to move away. Instead of flying off it moved up and started walking up my arm — my instant reaction was to stand up which prompted the bee to fly away. If Derek were with me he would have instructed me to have my Off fan with me; with the reminder of him not being there to tell me this I began cry instantly. “I can’t do this anymore…I’m hanging by a thread, Derek. I need you.”
As I start wiping the tears away I noticed a few autumn leaves falling to the ground. I looked up and saw what appeared as a branch hanging in mid-air below a tree. Upon, closer inspection, the branch was hanging on some type of string. Maybe it was a fishing line that somehow became tangled with the branch and the tree or maybe someone put it there (although I don’t see what the purpose of doing that would have achieved). Whatever the reason, this branch remained as part of the whole tree and moved ever so slowly and gracefully even as the leaves were blowing against the strong morning wind. “Hanging by a thread”, the branch wasn’t in danger of falling. And I wouldn’t be in danger of falling as long as I held onto Derek’s hand. I smiled and whispered, “Thank you for keeping me from falling.”