Tag Archive | "death"

The Dead Do Speak from Beyond

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Death is a cold, hard fact of life.  As painful as it is to part with a loved one we will never again see in this lifetime, those of us who are blessed discover that, once the initial grieving period passes, our dearly departed find ways of communicating with us beyond the grave.  How we choose to deal with these inevitable events determines the very quality of our lives, in terms of maintaining loving relationships with those souls closest to our own.

I understand this firsthand because my sister passed away a little over a year ago.

Because she did a lot of traveling with friends who drove tractor-trailers for a living, I cannot help but think of my sister whenever I hear the blaring horns of the big rigs rumbling down the road.  Listening to songs with “road” themes, such as Roll on Big Mama, Papa Loved Mama, Convoy, and Eastbound and Down, her image always pops into my mind.  And it is not just the trucks or the songs; everyday life brings her back to me.  For instance, whenever I have a sewing project, I find it a struggle, but my sister was an excellent seamstress who was always involved in sewing and crafts projects.  Makeup is another mystery for me, but I smile as I remember how my sister would try to instruct me in the art of cosmetics application.  On the occasions that I try to experiment with a new color or product, her face seems to appear right next to mine in the mirror, guiding me gently as to how to apply it properly.

When my sister first passed on, I was devastated as we were so close.  The words that people uttered to me, in an effort to give me some modicum of comfort, sounded hollow.  If you have experienced this, I totally sympathize with you.  However, if you open your heart and mind, you will find that truly, many things in life will bring your loved ones back to you in some manner, even if only for a moment or a brief period of time.

If you doubt this, just think about an old family recipe that has been passed down through many generations.  Remember when you first learned to cook it, and who taught you.  As you chop and slice, as you blend the various ingredients, as the aromas waft up before you, the food itself speaks to you, recalling beloved hands stirring the pot.  Stories that are told over and over again also strike a familiar chord in your heart as you remember the laughing faces of your loved ones.

Springtime is more than just an annual renewal for me of green buds bursting out upon  the trees and the daffodils poking forth from the earth.  Spring brings my mother back to me for a little while; she has been gone for several years now.  Her love of flowers always propelled her into the great outdoors, particularly for the marigolds, pansies, petunias, and geraniums: blooms showing off great bursts of color.  Although she liked all flowers, she loved the ones I’ve just named best.  They were sturdy and hardy and simple, just like my mother.  So, even though I do not have much space to plant flowers where I live, the thought of spring coming always excites me and gives my heart a lift, as I think of my dear mother.

In my mind’s eye, I see her getting excited to start her annual ritual of flower planting.  She would laugh at something my dad said while he was sitting on the porch in his bib overalls, as a curl of smoke from his cigarette wreathed his head.  With the slight curve of a smile on her lips, she dug her hands into the dirt, figuring out where all her pretty flowers would go into the moist, rich earth.  Some years, she got overly excited and bought too many flowers.  Stuffing flowers in every available space, her garden was usually never very organized, but it was always lush and beautiful.  Following by her side was her big orange cat, Hercules, who insisted upon sticking his nose into whatever she was doing.  I feel my mom with me every day, but in my heart, she speaks to me more clearly sometimes, and spring is always one of those times.

Look closely and you will hear or see or feel your beloved friends, spouses, and relatives speaking to you too in a secret but readily understandable language.  For example, think of all the old familiar songs that play on the radio and how your mind churns suddenly with memories of special times long gone; remember those who shared those moments with you. It can be like being jolted, as if someone from beyond is whispering, “Don’t forget about me.”

To preserve the memory of our loves ones, children are often named in honor of deceased relatives.  If there are children like this in your family, when you look at these little ones, don’t you feel a bit closer to the loved ones who have returned to God?  And, fond memories will always return if you have a lovely photo album or videos to enjoy.

Until you find that your loved ones come back to you in these ways, their loss can fill your heart, mind, and even the rest of your body with immense heartache and turmoil.  The loss of a loved one can put your life into a tailspin, if you let that loss overtake every waking thought.  It can be a terrible struggle to just get out of bed every day, and if children die, it is often a major battle simply to keep your marriage and the rest of your family intact.  Clinical depression  may set in, resulting in detrimental habits such as smoking or drinking.  These may be crutches by which you maintain your sanity in the short term but in the long run, they are very damaging.

Before you are able to hear the voices of your dearly departed in ways that will bring a smile to your lips rather than tears to your eyes, I would like to offer you some ways to work through your grief.  Hopefully, they will  help you as they have helped me.

1.       Don’t worry about being judged for mourning; there is no timetable for grief. It may take a long time before your sorrow is manageable.

2.       Stay busy.  Take a shower daily, put on fresh clothing, and if you are a woman, a touch of makeup — something cheery.  You’ll want to stay in bed and pull the covers over your head, so do your best to resist that urge.

3.       Journal your grief as well as your small, daily accomplishments. Writing is cathartic.  So is a little exercise.  Walks in natural surroundings are very healing; they help to clear your mind, even if for a little while.

4.       It often helps to have a pet or someone else in the house that must be cared for.  They will give you a reason to get up in the morning.

5.       Good friends are a Godsend: those who listen without passing on advice. 

6.       Join a support group if the weight of your anguish is too much to deal with on your own.  There is absolutely no shame in reaching out when you need to, and you will connect with people who are going through the same process and therefore, truly understand you.

7.       Observe the anniversary of your loved one’s passing.  Create a memory book, plant a tree in their honor, or light a candle; do something creative/productive that engages your mind and your hands.  And, you can also send up prayers for those who have passed on.  If you are able, to go to their final resting place and talk to them.  It often helps to just pour out all of your feelings like this.

8.       Sometimes you need to take a break from the sadness.  Go see a movie or work out at the gym.  Meditate and just clear your mind of the pain.  Many, many good books exist on the art and practice of meditation, which is easy and extremely healing, if you apply yourself.

9.       Don’t hold in all the misery; have a good cry.

10.     Talk about the person you lost to family and friends, to keep their memory alive.

11.     Talk to God and if you are amenable to reading the Bible, do so.  When you pray, ask for the strength you need, and have faith that it will be given to you.

Wherever our loved ones go when they leave us, we pray that they are only waiting for us to join them on the other side.  Until we make that journey, we are blessed, in our quiet moments, to receive the little messages of love and healing from those who have gone before us.  Let them whisper in your ear like a gentle breeze.  Be open to the love that someone may be trying to relay. 

For Whom the Clock Chimes: A Paranormal Tale

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Old Clock

It was only a matter of time.  Although he had sworn a handful of adults in his immediate family to secrecy, the truth was evident: my uncle was dying.  A gentle, spiritual man who loved Italian opera and a good joke, I suppose he did not want other family members to mourn him before he had actually passed on.   Not quite on the brink of adolescence, I’d seen the desolation that had kidnapped my aunt’s usually cheery countenance.  I’d heard my mother sobbing every evening behind her bedroom door, begging for the divine intervention that never came and the medical procedure that had not yet been discovered.  When I questioned my mother, she refused to confide that my uncle’s condition was terminal.  Assuming that she was in denial instead of operating under a vow of silence, I did not press the issue whose outcome was inevitable.


On a frigid January night, haunted by nightmares and perhaps the creeping knowledge of that inevitability, my aunt was awakened by a ringing telephone.  Switching on the lamp, she noted the time.  It was too late in the evening for a social call, so she knew in her heart that this was the call that she had been dreading.  Indeed it was.  A kind nurse on the other end informed her that my uncle had died five minutes earlier, giving her the precise time of death.   Part of my aunt’s psyche detached itself from this sorrowful news to register the fact that the clock by the side of the bed — the bed that she had shared with my uncle for so many years — had stopped ticking at the exact moment of his passing!


Overwhelmed with grief, my aunt fled the bedroom as if to leave the pain behind her.   Restless, she roamed the house, flicking on lights in each room like an automaton.  In the last room that she entered, a miracle was illuminated.  Beneath the lamp on the end table stood an antique clock that had not worked in years.  An heirloom too beautiful and precious to throw away, my family had kept it although it no longer functioned.  Long before the onset of his illness, my uncle had taken that clock to several watchmakers, but none of them had the expertise to fix a timepiece that old.  And so, the clock had sat mutely for many years beneath the lamp, its hands forever frozen upon some long-ago moment.


Into the still of the night, that clock began to tick.  My aunt snatched the thing up in her hands, peering closely at its face.  Impossibly but most definitely, the hands of the clock were moving!  It was as if my uncle, in the moment of his passing, had had driven the two clocks — one operational, one ornamental — to send his beloved wife an unmistakable message.  He was telling her that although his soul’s journey on Earth had ended, on the other side, it had only just begun. 

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