Bring Light Into Grief - Loss and Impermanence
Let's start with what I call advance grief. You can experience this when a loved one is terminally ill, when you fear you will lose something material like a job, or when you project fear about a future condition like growing old without savings. The grief or sense of loss you feel can be debilitating. Certainly it can take you out of the present, cloud your vision about options, hinder your current time decision-making and actions, and reduce your capacity to feel joy in the now.
None of this is productive. Your conditioned mind, however, can easily take you to this unproductive place. Over lifetimes you and your ancestors have been conditioned to fear change and the ultimate physical body change for all beings, which is death.
Your wise cosmic self, however, understands impermanence and the importance of living in the present. This part of you can easily be with what is. It knows that it is eternal, and that all things in this world fall away. Your wise inner being trusts in the process of change and has no fear about the 'what ifs" of the future. In "Your Cosmic Self and You" will be more guidance and practical tools for working with these things so much a part of our human condition.
Loss of Loved Ones
Loss of a loved one can be among the most difficult crossroads you can have. Losing someone you love also can be a significant catalyst to awakening and personal understanding of impermanence. Sharing here something I wrote in 2003 when my beloved calico cat Chelsea passed after being with me for 20 years - in hopes this helps you navigate grief and loss in these times.
Loss of a Loved One
From Selacia's December 2003 Article
The end of a year is a time when it's helpful to reflect on life's cycles, one's own personal progress, and the numerous endings that seemingly divide one experience from the next.
Consider for a few moments your life in 2003. What changes or endings have you experienced in your relationships and your life experiences? As an example, you may have left a job or been promoted to a new position, dramatically shifting your career path or income level. Your old way of fearfully responding to uncertainty may have changed to a more confident, trusting manner as you developed a more intimate connection with spirit. Your relationship with an old friend may have grown more distant as your paths took different routes. A loved one may have died, leaving you with a sense of loss and grief.
As you do your personal year-end inventory of 2003, consider inviting spirit to assist, bringing to your awareness what you need to see. Ask to be shown the gift of each ending or change, even if the situation has been painful and you can't imagine there is anything positive to ponder. Allow your intuitively guided reason to show you what is limiting your personal progress, and what you could let go of to get back on track. This process of inner reflection can be done anytime throughout the year, too. For right now, before this year ends, it can be especially potent to set aside time for yourself, taking stock of the energies you are leaving behind and the energies you seek to bring in during 2004. For this process, it's ideal to have at least one day when you are not involved with the busy "doing" state of typical life. Allowing yourself regular renewal time is essential to your spiritual growth.
Renewal time and inner reflection become especially important when you sense the imminent departure of a loved one. To allow yourself this time and quiet space for listening to the whispers of spirit is to honor yourself and your loved one. It also helps you to be really present with each part of the transition experience. As a result, you will find it easier to cope with stress and to respond in a loving way.
Every person will at some time receive news that a family member, pet, or other loved one has a terminal illness. Such is the nature of life. One cannot avoid the experience of death. Life, by its very nature, is marked by impermanence at every turn. Everything in the world of physical form, including the loved ones who you hold dear, will one day be changing form. Therefore, even if you aren't now personally facing the prospect of a loved one's death, it's very useful to frequently meditate upon this idea of impermanence.
Knowing that your loved one is dying can be overwhelming, especially when you are unsure about how to prepare. In modern society, there is so much fear, denial and ignorance about death that many people make little or no advance preparations. Worry, by the way, does not count as preparation! Facing the death of a loved one without preparation tends to needlessly increase one's suffering. After all, how can you say good-bye to a loved one without regrets when you don't feel ready?
There is a strong tendency to delay as long as possible the decisions, actions, conversations and completions that could make the transition less painful for all concerned. Likewise, because of the taboo and fear surrounding death, most people are unable to remain in present time as they contemplate the prospect of death. The person's mind races forwards and backwards, avoiding the stillness and richness offered by the present moments.
Focusing on the future can bring up fears of the void a loved one's passing will create. Thinking about the past can bring up regrets and wishes for a life that could have been different in some way. Both reference points are futile and create feelings of loss.
At the moment your loved one leaves their physical body, you will want to feel complete about your relationship. How can you prepare with this completion in mind?
Contemplate What You Have Learned & Received
While your loved one is still living, it is very useful to take the time to contemplate what you have learned and received from the relationship. Ask yourself some questions such as the following, inviting spirit to open you to a higher wisdom:
- What have I learned about myself because of this relationship?
- What qualities have I developed because of this relationship (e.g. to be more patient, generous, forgiving)?
- What difficult pattern played out in this relationship, opening my eyes to a way of being I would like to release from my life (e.g. noticing how my need to be right causes friction and a wall of defense around my heart)?
- How is my view of life changed?
- What patterns did I repeat?
- What have I learned about love and how to love?
- What are the key gifts I have received from this relationship?
- What was this person or pet showing me about life and how to live life?
- What do I now know about relationships that can alter how I relate to others from this moment forward?
- What was the true higher purpose of this relationship?
Communicate Your Feelings & Thoughts
It is natural to feel sad about the prospect of a loved one passing. The grief that you feel when you lose someone will be there even if you feel prepared. However, you will likely suffer even more when you haven't communicated what's in your heart while your loved one is still alive. You can communicate things such as the following, either face-to-face or on the "inner planes" to the person or pet:
- What would you like me to know that you haven't told me?
- What I would like you to know that I haven't told you is ....
- How would you like to be remembered?
- I love you more than I've ever told you ....
- The things I've appreciated most about you in my life are ....
- The questions that I've always wanted you to answer are ....
- What I'd like to make sure you know while we're still here together is ....
- What I believe about death and the afterlife is ....
Let Go Of Grievances
Completing your relationship includes letting go of the grievances, both known and "forgotten," that prevent you from forgiving and loving. Take an honest inventory of the things you blame your loved one for, also getting in touch with any need for retribution. Remember that grievances are poisons that prevent you from connecting with love and wholeness. They separate you from your loved one, from yourself and from your true Divine nature. As long as you hold on to them, grievances will bind you to a painful cycle of negativity and suffering, and you will feel alone.
Revisit Vows & Agreements Held Within Your DNA
Ask spirit to help you get in touch with any vows or agreements you have made in connection with your loved one. These energetic statements of intent, often made silently and without your conscious awareness, are held along with belief systems within your DNA. The purpose of uncovering these is to have conscious awareness of their existence so you can determine if they serve your highest good. Sometimes the agreements are made between two people in the early days of their relationship. Other agreements are made before you are birthed into physical form, either in a past incarnation or in between physical lives when the stage is set for what you will learn this lifetime. You have the power to change or rescind agreements! An example of an agreement a person might want to reconsider is one that says, "I will die before you (so you can take care of me in my final days)." With this agreement in place, your loved one may not feel they have your permission to leave the physical plane when it's their time to die. This can create needless conflict and cause heavy feelings of obligation.
Give Permission & Let Go
If your loved one has a terminal illness, it can be helpful to their own preparation process to know it's OK with you that they die. Even if their life expectancy is several more months, they will benefit from knowing that they have your permission to leave and that you are willing to let go. Communicating this permission, both verbally and in your actions, will help both of you. In this preparatory period, you also will benefit from inviting spirit to show you that you really will be OK without the physical presence of your loved one. Pray about it and trust that spirit will begin to reveal to you actions you can take now, including the healing of past wounds, that will allow you to say to yourself, "I know I'm OK and will be OK when they are no longer in my life."
Consider The Physical Details In Advance
Completing your relationship with a person or pet also includes considering the end-time physical details in advance. If you have a pet, for example, it will be helpful to make plans for their death in advance of the day they die. When you are in the midst of the grief of just losing your pet, it will add to your pain to have to sort out details of how you will treat the body. Pets can telepathically communicate their wishes about things like burial, cremation, and commemoration. Your pet can also tell you whether it wants assistance in dying, and how you will know when it's "time." Likewise, with your beloved human companion, it's useful to know in advance their preferences about a funeral and other physical details as well as any special requests or needs. You will also want to give some advance consideration to your personal role in your loved one's final days.
These are among the initial preparations that can be helpful when a loved one's passing is imminent. The transition from physical form to the spiritual form can be one of ease and release, accompanied by a sense of completion. Regardless of what your relationship has been until now, the final days or weeks can be a time when you set aside grievances and choose to come from love. It can be the most potent time of your entire relationship.
Allowing yourself to remain present throughout each part of the experience is the key. As you do this, allow yourself to feel what you feel and to grieve in advance of the loss. Remember to honor yourself and your loved one by allowing your intuitively guided wisdom to prevail. This can be a very fruitful time when you set aside your usual ways of coping with life. The Divine offers a more loving way to be.
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