Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to email a response to my post called “Is It Just Me?” I tried to be as honest as possible in sharing questions and feelings about the role of faith during the grieving process. I have gotten honesty in return. It will take a few posts to cover all of the aspects that have been uncovered in this experience. New questions have been asked. Requests for posts on such subjects as prayer, faith, and the after life have been registered. I am going to be busy but boy is it fun when folks respond and add their experiences to the data base. The only way some subjects will ever be uncovered is for this kind of give and take.
One of the most interesting responses has been some who have reported their experience with some kind of presence or visitation from their loved one. I have heard these kinds of stories from very reputable people for years but have been very reluctant to share them for at least two reasons. First, of course, is the natural doubt we have about such things that usually causes us to debate whether or not it was real instead of trying to grasp the meaning of the event. The second and most important reason is that these experiences do not happen very often and when they are told it leaves the rest of us wondering why our loved one has not come to our aid as well. I never argue with the person about the reality of their story. If it has meaning to them, then it becomes sacred to me no matter what I believe about it.
When I get permission from some of the ones who have written I will publish parts of their letters with the hope that these experiences will be of some help and with the prayer that they will not make anyone feel worse.
Some have written that they briefly saw their loved one. One wrote that they felt their husband hug them from behind. One said she could smell her husband’s after shave while sitting in church. These details will appear soon.
One experience that happened to a friend of mine points out a very important fact about these events. She went to a large meeting where a person was supposedly communicating with the dead. The person would begin talking about someone and people in the audience were supposed to stand if they thought this was coming from their loved one. As more facts emerged folks were eliminated until only one person was left standing and the communication was from their loved one. My friend was the one left standing. The cynic in me can figure out how the person knew the facts used in the performance, but my friend was and still is convinced there were things said the performer could not have known. Either way, she was certain that she had communicated with her daughter and our point in this post is not whether or not she did. The point is simple, she really thought she did.
She came to see me as soon as she got home and was deeply puzzled by the experience. She said that as soon as the meeting closed people were congratulating her and saying how much better she must now feel knowing her daughter is in a wonderful safe place and well cared for. That is what she thought she should feel and could not understand why she did not do so. When we talked she just could not understand why this experience had so little impact on her grief.
I was able to share with her that the bottom line to grief is our loved ones are no longer here. Knowing they are in a better place is wonderful. Talking to them must be even better, but the bottom line remains the same. They are not here and we must learn to live with them not being here. There really are no shortcuts to that process. There are no experiences that will make it all better. There is no heaven that makes it easy for us to let them go there. Grief is a journey, a long journey. If we can speak to them, do so. If we can catch a glimpse of them, wonderful, but when the speech is over and the glimpse fades we still must do the hard work of learning to cope without their being here.
Copyright Doug Manning of In-Sight Books, Inc. Doug’s books, CDs and DVDs are available at www.insightbooks.com. Post originally published on Doug’s Blog at The Care Community www.thecarecommunity.com.
Updated: August 15, 2013