A light in the darkness – looking at grief
To be perfectly honest, I was a very reluctant medium. I loved doing psychic readings, and coaching, and energy healing, shamanic work, etc. but talking to dead people…thanks, I’ll pass. Along my journey, a chiropractor who I’ve worked with sent me a woman who had lost her first child a week before the baby was due to deliver. This beautiful young woman had to deliver her first child, knowing he was already gone. I couldn’t imagine anything more horrible, my own son was about 10 years old at the time. when I was asked to work with her, I thought, “suck it up Anne, this is what you’re here for, to help people heal what they need to heal”. As she and I worked together her first session, her son came to me as an adult young man and held his infant self in his hands. He was strong, and handsome, intelligent, funny. For ages, even after that, I kept telling people “mediumship is NOT my strong suit!” as a nice way of saying, “thanks, I’ll pass on that”. Fortunately, this young Mom saw in me something I was not about to see in myself, and she started telling everyone, “you need to go see Anne” and would tell them about her sessions with me. After not much time, I had a schedule of Moms and Dads who had lost children. It broke my heart. Seriously, I’d walk away from sessions and cry. The more I wanted to walk away from it, the more people came, to receive messages from their loved ones, children first, and then, well, everyone of all ages. At one point I looked myself in the mirror, literally and said, “look, if the one thing God is asking you to do in this world is to help people heal their grief so they can continue with a lighter load in life, then it’s the least you can do. Greif is hard enough, you can’t give them their person back, you can’t fix this, but you can be a channel to help them heal”. And so, it began.
However, we look at it, losing someone we love is hard. In the last year my husband and I have attended 17 wakes and funerals (I stopped counting after 6 but my husband for some strange reason kept counting). It’s been exhausting, to say the least. Yet, as I remind my husband often, be thankful its not in our house. I believe in gratitude for Simple gifts. My family is in the season of a particularly difficult loss in that my younger cousin died a year ago, very unexpectedly. He was a big man with a big heart and a huge personality. He was simple unadulterated love, fun and joy! I won’t even pretend that my grief process is done. Just thinking of him and his family brings me to tears.
I spend a lot of my time working with people and families who have lost people they loved very much; spouses, parents, children, siblings, etc. Sometimes it’s been a long process of leaving and the client just wants to be assured their loved one is ok on the other side. Sometimes people leave suddenly and tragically, and their families are desperate for words of encouragement, reconciliation and long for connection. There is no right or wrong reason to seek connection to someone we’ve loved and lost. Loss is hard, and grief is real. Grief is a process that is totally unique to each and every one of us. I recognize we have the “stages of grief” that have been laid out for us, and largely they’re accurate, but they’re not a prescription for how grief gets done. I see people wanting to rush through grief trying to get out of the pain and in a huge hurry to move on. Of course, no one likes that pain. Others hang on to for decades as their unconscious mind is using it as a tool to stay connected to the person they lost. An internal belief that if they let go of the of pain, they’ll be letting go of their lost loved one forever. Grief is not intended to be a permanent place for our hearts or spirits to live. It’s a stopping ground to be with ourselves inside. I look at grief as going to a museum; sometimes we want to sit and look, read, research every article of the museum, take in every nuance, every detail. Sometimes we see things of passing interest, and move through more quickly, and we all know there are entire sections of the museum we might skip one time and go back to look at another time. Grief asks us to journey through our lives with ones we loved and lost, the memories, the good the bad, the indifferent. Some places will be painful, regrets, hurt, rejection we may have felt or dealt with that person, other places will be lighter, easier to carry and view as they were joy, or contentment, or celebration. What I, time and time again, ask my clients is to be gentle to themselves, to hold space for themselves to view life with this lost loved one, to honor who they were, and sometimes acknowledge simply, who they were not that perhaps we would’ve like them to be. Grief isn’t about judgment, of ourselves, or them. Grief isn’t necessarily about the person who has left us, it’s really about us. It’s about our sense of sadness, loneliness, regret for words not spoken, or regret for what we did or said, that perhaps we now wish we hadn’t. grief is our time to forgive; to forgive them for leaving and to forgive ourselves for wanting to desperately hang on or redirect the past. I’ve see multiple times how grief brings out the best, or the worst in people. What creates that difference I believe, is each individual’s ability to love themselves while they’re hurting. To see ourselves with some objectivity and extend love in our own direction. While grief is about loss of someone we love, at the end of the day, grief is about us loving and caring for ourselves. I’m not suggesting it’s an “every man for themselves” environment, but rather one where we allow each other to grieve the way we each need to, and to focus on OUR way, what is it that WE need in the space of loss. Making time to care for ourselves is incredibly important, to stop, to rest, to ponder. No, it doesn’t get us through it any faster, but speed, duration really don’t exist in this paradigm, it simply takes as long as it takes, and there is no way through, but through. Love yourself, be gentle with you, so you can perhaps, extend that love and gentleness to others around suffering also. By allowing ourselves the time and personal inner space to grieve, we honor who we lost, and we honor who we are now, and going forward. By loving ourselves, by showing ourselves gentleness and compassion during our grief, we can allow movement. By loving ourselves, we can release the energy of grief to move through us and continue to move. Which is to say, it’s not about being “done” it’s about allowing it to change, recognizing we’re changing with it. A life touched by love is changed forever. Death is a part of life, and so grief is part of life and of love, also. The light we can allow is the fingerprint our loved ones leave on our hearts and it illuminates our hearts and connects us to our heaven.
10 years ago my brother died after a 3plus year battle with cancer. Sometimes him being near me makes me laugh, sometimes is gives me comfort, and sometimes he still makes me cry from the sadness of him being gone. I will always miss him. My beautiful young Mom client now is Mommy to two adorable little kids, a business woman and loving wife, and so much more, I still have the pleasure of working with her and her husband, as a medium and a business coach. She still talks to her son, and always will. He is her light in heaven.
Grief walks with us, I believe it changes, but perhaps never totally leaves us. Love yourself through it, be gentle, kind and compassionate with yourself. They say that times heals all things, and I believe it’s true, if we attend to our emotions, let them flow, and love who we are within them.
Peace and love to all