“I feel quite sure that nothing makes people age faster than fear. Grief runs a close second… ” (Dr. Deepak Chopra)
We have all experienced grief. It is a part of the human condition. Sylvia Browne calls it “the ultimate pain, the most hollow, numbing, paralyzing, hopeless, helpless aching on earth.” I agree. When we are caught in the darkness of grief, everything we ever worried about pales in comparison. The death of a loved one is what usually comes to mind when we think about the experience of grief. However, sometimes we forget and/or fail to support loved ones who are experiencing grief due to a broken relationship, separation, divorce, loss of a valued and/or needed job, betrayal by a trusted family member or friend, an unwanted necessary relocation, an “empty nest” or any of the other numerous losses that we humans can experience which completely alters our sense of ourselves and the structure of our lives which leaves us feeling shaky and insecure.
How can we help those who are grieving? One of the main things that we can do is to not attempt to make them feel better by minimizing their loss. And, it goes without saying that we don’t try to top their grief story with one of our own. We also remember that being close to someone who is grieving has been known to touch off some very ‘strange’ (but human!) reactions in ourselves. Just being aware of this possibility helps us to avoid burdening an already grieving person with our own unresolved issues around loss. Since most people grieving enter into the ‘survival mode’, we can help by aiding them with daily tasks without waiting to be asked. Making ourselves useful by tidying up, doing dishes, laundry and grocery shopping, walking the dog and such are valuable services to perform for someone unable to care about these basics. While you may feel that the griever needs to talk (and you may be correct) it is not up to you to decide what their emotional needs might be at any stage – so – take all your cues from the griever. When they wish to talk, listen. When they wish their privacy and solitude, allow it. Everyone is unique and we often do not know what another’s emotional needs are moment-to-moment during the grief process. Supporting each other is taking our cues from the other.
One of the things that I have noticed about North American culture is that many of us were trained to sweep our grief under the rug and ‘get on with it.’ We are expected to move forward before we have even digested what has happened and we are often still in shock. It is true that New Age teachers/healers advocate moving forward and not getting ‘stuck’; however, most also recommend that a person fully experience their emotions in order to let them pass through their body rather than lodge and become a permanent dis-ease. The length of time a person grieves is very individual and involves many factors unique to them. Although most people feel that it is best to return to work as soon as they are able – some people need a longer time period before they can get past the stage where just getting out of bed and dressed takes every ounce of determination and energy they possess. One man told me that he had to lie in bed for quite a few days and just sob continuously, his body wracked by weeping. Although this was not how he was raised (men in my generation were not allowed to show emotions assigned to women) it is what is natural, cathartic and healing. Emotions being energy-in-motion need to flow through us. I have noticed that people who allow themselves to feel what they feel, realizing that emotions aren’t an identity to cling to – and ‘let go’ – heal faster than those of us who tend to ‘hold on’ the way many of us were raised. Besides the fact that processing our grief helps to prevent it from taking up residence in the body, I learned in nursing school that our tears contain a natural opiate which is soothing.
Although during the grieving process it is very tempting to anesthetize our grief with alcohol or non-prescription drugs – do not do this. It will only temporarily postpone your pain and it takes a tremendous toll on your physical health and the grief usually erupts at a time in the future when you are least expecting it and it is disguised as something else and therefore more difficult to unearth. Some people do need professional help and/or a prescribed medication from a qualified doctor. Although no one can take away our pain for us, there are many highly qualified and caring people available to help when we reach out: grief counselors, physicians, psychologists, support groups etc. They can help to guide you through the abyss and out the other side.
It is true, I have found, that “what does not kill us makes us stronger”; however, most of us do not want to hear this while we are in the depths of it. It lacks empathy, although, most people are not intending to upset us when they say this. It comes from their personal experience and they are trying, clumsily, to help. Until we are out of the void of despair, telling us that we will expand from this experience, while usually true, is insensitive. Of course, when we finally ‘surface’ from the void, we often remember that we (as a spirit) came for this earth walk so we could experience what it means to be human, on earth, at this time. However, having come from Home, where we were swaddled in nothing but Love and surrounded by angels, soul-mates and ascended masters and friends, we ‘forgot’ what the challenges would FEEL like and are dumfounded that we actually CHOSE to incarnate. We often feel ‘what was I thinking?’ Sylvia Browne says: ” I promise there are babies all over the world right this second who are looking around at all these strangers making idiot faces at them, having fleeting recall of those adored, adoring spirits they just said good-bye to on The Other Side, and wondering, what the hell was I thinking?! No wonder the first thing we do when we leave the womb is burst into tears. ” (BLESSINGS FROM THE OTHER SIDE) Actually, the piece that I wrote on worry discussed this grieving for Home (which often manifests as a difficult-to-discern longing). However, once we remember even a snippet of a past life, and understand that what we call ‘death’ is actually a transition, not an end but a beginning, with the help of Source and the angels we move out of the void and back into the Light knowing that our loved one has returned Home – and that the loss is temporary. We join them in Divine Order.
I have had a number of clients who come for an Angel reading and ask me to connect with a deceased loved one. It is very gratifying to be able to receive messages from Heaven that confirm for a client that their cherished one is safe and happy in Heaven. Personal details, given to me, that I could not possibly know without communicating with angels, often surprise me as much as it surprises my clients! For example, one of my past clients, Sally (not her name) was grieving the loss of her best friend April (not her name) to breast cancer. Sally wanted to know what she could do to honour April that would also allow them to communicate beyond the grave, so to speak. We asked the angels to contact April for us. I was given information, clairaudiently, regarding a simple ritual, a location and a building, an animal and an object (I am being purposely vague for privacy), and I passed this on to Sally during the reading. Sally burst into tears. She knew the location and building as these were places she and April had been during their childhood together. The object was a simple one and part of a simple ceremony that Sally was to perform in order to connect with April and to feel peace regarding her ‘death’. The animal was known to Sally as April’s animal totem – and Sally started laughing when I mentioned the animal and told me a lovely story about their mutual experience with April’s totem animal. Sally assured April that she would perform the ritual and knew April would be there. Before Sally left it was clear that she had received immense comfort from the messages from Heaven and that is the reason why Dr. Doreen Virtue teaches her students to connect with those who have crossed over. It is not for entertainment purposes, it is to give comfort to those left behind. Obviously, knowing that death is a transition does not mean that we don’t grieve. We miss the loved one’s physical presence and feel bereft, even when we absolutely KNOW that the loved one is now Home. Praying to Source and asking help from the angels helps to pull us out of the darkness in our own time.
Sometimes the loss we are grieving is the death of a dream or the loss of something that might have been. One of my past clients, let’s call her Pearl (not her name), came to me many years ago for Reiki sessions and spiritual counseling. Pearl was having some physical symptoms that were preventing her from feeling total wellness. She felt Reiki would help to gently bring her issue to the surface and that spiritual counseling would allow her to unearth what was bothering her and erupting into symptoms that were mild but bothersome. It turned out that Pearl , in her mid-fifties dis-covered a sense of loss regarding never having had a child. She had been unaware that she needed to acknowledge and grieve this loss. Once she had expressed this deep sense of loss and healed through Reiki, she moved forward – using the energy released through this awareness for a unique and new endeavor. The ‘birth’ of something new and enriching in her life.
The actual impetus for me to write this piece is not only so we can all be aware and aid our loved ones when they grieve, but also to promote the understanding that you may experience grief as part of your transformation process and to be conscious of the fact that this is normal. When we do a complete transformation (not just dusting out the corners of our life – although that too is valuable) then we leave the ‘old’ self behind as we become our ‘new’ self. As you know, this does not happen in a linear fashion; however, the earth time does come where you ’emerge’ from the cocoon as a butterfly! And, yes the butterfly is free and the butterfly is beautiful, but you may find yourself missing and mourning the caterpillar who was special in his/her own way. It often feels like a loss of innocence. It is. But, it is also a ‘new’ innocence and purity. It sometimes happens that it is difficult to find the demarcation point between the caterpillar and the butterfly because the emerging is usually slow and therefore can be navigated one day at a time. It helps us to live in the NOW which is the point of power. It happens gradually: “Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly.”
Be open and conscious of the fact that you may find yourself mourning and not know why – for whom or what you grieve. It is for your ‘old’ self. To me now, the ‘old’ Monica feels like just one of my many other past lives. Allow yourself to grieve when you feel the loss – let it pass through you – and honour who you were while you simultaneously honour who you are becoming. You are emerging and it is a process too. It may feel like you are dying, because it is the death of the ‘old’ self. You are safe. You will emerge from the cocoon when you are intuitively guided to. Ask the angels to surround you and to help you navigate and ease into your ‘new’ self. Always remember through this process that can feel intense at times, what Richard Bach says: ” What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly.”
Love & Light, Monica