After the funeral service, everyone returned to the house. The coffee pot was plugged in; neighbors brought in food. Shirley excused herself from the din of family and friends and retreated to her bedroom, whereupon she fell into their king-size marital bed. She was utterly devastated and was totally lost without her husband, Charlie.
Then, a remarkable thing happened: Shirley felt Charlie hold her and comfort her as she lay cocooned in her grief. She wondered if she was simply imagining the very thing she wanted most in the world.
Fast forward a good six months. Shirley has now sold their home and moved into a small apartment. After the movers had finished their deliveries, Shirley walked aimlessly about and surveyed the disarray. Her once-familiar furniture seemed very out of place in the plain-vanilla box of what was to be her new home, her new home without the man she called the love of her life.
Shirley was overwhelmed and, as she was wont to do, Shirley, once again, took to her bed. And as you might guess, Charlie appeared again. He stood in the doorway and reassured her. Shirley told me that Charlie appeared about once a month for a number of months. Each and every time, Charlie stood in the doorway, leaning into the jamb in his own inimitable way. On his last visit, Charlie told Shirley that this was going to be his last visit as he knew she would now be okay.
Shirley asked me if I thought she was crazy. My answer was no, I believed that her Charlie was there to hold her and help her through her debilitating grief. I was happy for Shirley. She had had the comfort and reassurance of the connection; she had received, to my way of thinking, both a healing and a blessing—and it came from her husband on the “other side.”
From my perspective, the other side is thrumming with activity. I believe that those that have gone before us are cheering us forward towards a soulful, happy and joyous life. I believe that we are less alone than we imagine. Not only do we hold the memories in our minds, but we also hold the memories in our cell tissue and our hearts.
Death does not have to end a relationship. It can continue, albeit in new form, such as dreams, where, perhaps, you are given an answer to a question or affirmation for the next right step or, simply, a loving connection that fills your empty heart.
There can be the waft of a familiar scent, such as perfume, pipe smoke, roses or, even, alcohol that tells you your loved one is nearby.
There can be personal symbology as well. I know one man who feels affirmed by and connected with his deceased father every time he sees a blue heron—and in an area where blue herons are not known to populate. There is another woman who recognizes her deceased mother by the yellow butterflies that come to rest on her arm and hair for a good 20-30 minutes at a time.
There are the odd mechanical happenings, such as the woman whose deceased mother regularly turns on the radio to let her daughter know that they are still connected. Or, for another woman, there is the broken mantle clock that chimes every year on the date of her husband’s death.
The messages can come in all shapes and sizes. There is no one right way. It can be looking down and seeing a heart in midtown Manhattan and knowing, without a doubt, that it is a message from your mom. It can be meeting someone who says something that resonates within your heart and you know that person is the messenger for you.
It’s a matter of openness. It’s a matter of resonance. Are you open to the possibility? And, whatever is presented or unfolded, does it resonate within you?
I remember working with a 16 year-old girl; let’s call her Cassie, who was grieving the loss of her youngest brother in a family car accident. Early one Monday morning, their minivan had been hit hard — hard enough to flip over. Cassie recalls that at the time of the accident she was wearing a black-and-white summer skirt. When the minivan stopped rolling, Cassie noticed that her skirt was becoming red, and she, then, realized, with shock and horror, that her brother was crushed beneath her.
Cassie felt tremendous guilt that she was alive and that her brother had perished in the accident.
In one of our last sessions together, with Cassie’s permission and some prior prep work, I invoked the presence of her brother and asked for a message to help Cassie heal and assuage her suffocating guilt. Admittedly, Cassie was a bit suspect of this part of our work, but her curiosity outweighed her reservations.
Cassie was stretched out the couch, and I was seated in a chair placed near Cassie’s head. Cassie listens, with little or no reaction, as I relay messages from her brother. I, then, tell Cassie that I sense her brother is doing cartwheels down her body. Cassie begins to sob; she had felt the cartwheel movements before I even uttered the words.
For Cassie, this was physical proof of a connection with her brother, and served as a first step in her healing. And even better, Cassie later told me that her little brother was infamous in the family for his pride in his ability to do cartwheels. Clearly, her deceased little brother knew how to meaningfully connect with his big sister.
Children hold the faint memory of their soul time before birth and are less jaded about the possibility of the unknown. Some children see their guardian angels; others have imaginary friends. I wonder if some of these imaginary pals are more than a grand imagination, but spiritual allies at the ready.
This leads me to one more story.
There was a young boy, let’s call him Bobby, who was having Sunday dinner at his grandparent’s house. The dinner table was full; there were Bobby’s parents, his older brother and grandmother. His grandfather, who was at the end stages of cancer, was in bed; he was too weak and too ill to be part of this Sunday tradition.
Bobby raced through his meal, and, when finished, asked if he could be excused and rejoin his grandfather in the front bedroom. His parents gave their permission, and Bobby happily skipped off to be with his granddad.
A short while later, Bobby is yelling for his family to come quickly. Everyone bolts from the table and heads pell-mell to the grandfather’s bedroom. The adults check to see that the grandfather is resting comfortably and still breathing, and he is. Bobby, on the other hand, is wild-eyed and pointing to the end of the bed.
At the end of the bed, Bobby has seen a red-haired young boy, about his age, beckoning to his grandfather. Bobby wants to know who the red-haired boy is. His parents look blank, shrug their shoulders and shake their heads; they have no idea, nor do they see a red-haired boy. His grandmother, however, knows exactly who the red-haired boy is; he is the grandfather’s brother who died as a young boy in a boating accident.
Bobby’s mother came to me and asked if I thought Bobby’s vision was real. I said yes, and explained that it is not unusual for loved ones to ease the transition of their relatives. They offer familiarity and comfort in making the shift from human body to soul being.
For those left on the earth plane, the loss of a loved one can feel like cruel and unusual punishment. It is hard to absorb, much less accept, the permanency of the loss. We grieve for the dead, but, in reality, we are grieving the pain of the loss of connection with our loved one.
May I suggest that there might be more than merely the physical plane?
May I suggest that there might be deceased loved ones applauding your efforts regularly?
May I suggest that if you were to widen your perspective and expand your perceptions that there might be a few messages within your reach?
You know the feeling of love and connection; perhaps, it is closer than you think.