The dead are our nearest neighbors; they are all around us. John Donoghue
Have you noticed how unrelated situations take on metaphoric images of life…
Take this Mutts comic that’s posted on my desk and has taken on a multitude of meanings over the years. During the autumn season my eyes gaze on it often but recently it represented a whole different message…
And, several times now I have been startled by the falling leaves on my screensaver as I haven’t remembered in those times, that I changed it from the summer flowers motif. I remember that reaction in early grief when we “forget” that our child died and we are surprised when the thought (reality) crosses our mind. (This is a common phenomenon with those in early grief after the death of a loved one; ex: the telephone would ring and the first thought is, “that must be Johnny calling” or “I must call my Father to tell him that.”)
So, back to Mutts and signs…Sometimes the bereaved discover that the possibility of their loved one still being with them brings them some relief to their grieving. Other times this discovery can add to the grief, can be confusing or can distract the griever from their grief process.
In grief, some people want a sign, any sign from the other side to:
- Let the griever know that they are OK
- Know that they are on the other side
- Know if my child/loved one is angry, frustrated, etc, that: I can’t get out of bed, I am depressed, are they angry at me for ***(whatever the circumstance)
- Know if their child/loved one blame them for: removing the respirator, not providing a certain treatment, calling in Hospice (whatever someone is feeling guilt over)
- Know they are watching over them or with them on the other side
- To prove that there IS an “other side.”
It is not our loved one’s job to make us feel better, to “get through” to us from the other side, or to prove anything to us. This is all part of our learning, our lessons in this life.
Our loved ones are with us, are here to help us and the signs are there. “Anyone can have this communication and have an easier path of grieving if they listen to their loved ones because they are right there trying to help them.” (Zac, July 31, 2001)
The problem is most often in the receiving not the sending.
- First, it’s a continued relationship only different.
- We only have control over our part of this relationship.
- The process to receive signs is: 1. Become Aware, (which is difficult in grief) 2. Notice the individual/personal signs, then 3. Trust what you sense
Due to the difficulty of the grief process, this may take some time. One must: move from: thinking (Awareness) --to believing (Notice) ---to understanding (Trust). We need to reach the understanding that we can continue our relationship with our loved one; us in the physical and them in the spiritual world. They know this, but this is what we must learn.
So when I looked at the comic today I realized that the question could relate to the obvious or it could possibly be asked from their perspective, the knowing perspective that understands that the leaf has to DO something first.
Like the leaf, WE have to DO something to continue the relationship with our loved ones. Reaching that knowing perspective, we know that they ARE waiting. They can’t force us. They can’t make us know that they are still with us but they are patiently waiting for us to learn.
It is not our loved one’s responsibility to “give us a sign.” We have to gain that knowing perspective; to be aware of the sign, to notice it and then to trust it.
Are you waiting for a sign from your loved one? Like Mooch says to Earl, “What’s he waiting for?” I wish you awareness, noticing and trust.