Loss is a universal human experience. In the decade after I lost my beloved husband Jay, I received many lessons and messages from him, often in the form of visitation dreams which are quite common in cultures all over the world.
Recently, I was preparing a talk and had fallen asleep, exhausted. Suddenly, there was Jay, his face glowing. He said, ” Write this down. I have four messages I want you to share and these are not just from me, but from many soul energies I’ve encountered.”
It’s hard to argue with a soul who can counter with silence. So I dutifully rose from my sound sleep, turned on the light, and grabbed the nearest pad and pen. Here are the four abridged messages:
There is Nothing to Fear About the Transition of Death
While the idea of death is frightening, this message suggests despite its mystery, we don’t need to fear death. In a visitation dream I had after my husband’s passing, I asked him, Why did you have to die so early? and What’s it like to die?
“Just wait. It’s genius,” he responded.
As end-of-life experts Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and David Kessler wrote in Life Lessons, “Death is simply a shedding of the physical body like the butterfly shedding its cocoon. It is no different from taking off a suit of clothes one no longer needs.”
I’ve learned death is a transition, not a disappearance.. In death it seems like we shift from our physical body to an enduring consciousness that is not limited by time and space. People who return from near-death experiences often report going to a loving, light-filled place that feels like home.
Our Loved Ones Want to be Remembered
Our loved ones who’ve transitioned want to be kept alive in our hearts and minds. Jay reminded me that they want to be spoken about by name and in stories. Talking about our loved ones also gives us opportunities to process our grief so these feelings don’t resurface later as rage, panic, or despair.
Another way to remember those who’ve passed is to honor them in rituals. For example, my friend Sam suggests we perform an act of kindness in memory of his father each year on the anniversary of his passing.
These souls also want to reassure us that they are always alongside us. In Beauty, The Invisible Embrace, John O’ Donohue wrote, The dead are not distant or absent…When we lose someone to death, we lose their physical image and presence…but because we cannot see them does not mean they are not there. In their new transfigured presence their compassion, understanding and love takes on a divine depth, enabling them to become secret angels guiding and sheltering the unfolding of our destiny.
Let Go of Our Demons Now
Jay and his cohorts advise us to let go of regrets and focus our energies instead on forgiveness, compassion, and peace. The visitation dreams I’ve had suggest that any demons we don’t let go of now become transformed after our transition. Four months after Jay passed, I woke up with a dream in which he was healthy again and hadn’t aged. He told me, “The best thing about where I am now is that there are no demons here. I’m not haunted anymore by could-haves, or should-haves, or by second-guessing myself or someone else. I’m just happy and peaceful now.”
In a follow-up dream, Jay told me had had gone through a “spiritual rehabilitation” process. I could tell from the dream that any woundedness he had carried while on earth was gone as I sensed his transformation.
Attachment to our “demons” like regret while embodied becomes an encumbrance, consuming precious time and energy that otherwise could be used for our expansion and growth.
Make our Time on Earth Matter
The fourth message is this: make the remaining time we each have on earth mean something good. Making our time on earth matter means we find ways to give back, to value people more than things, to discern what tasks are most important, and to do things that put light in our life and the lives of others, especially those who feel marginalized or impoverished.
While grieving losses, remembering that love is the most powerful force in the world helps us cope with our heartbreak. There is a Celtic belief that the more love we disperse, the greater abundance we receive. Love is the only energy state that can overcome all pain and darkness. In the words of Martin Luther King Jr. found in The Strength of Love, “Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that.“
Sherry Cormier, PhD, is a licensed psychologist and a certified bereavement trauma specialist who is a public speaker, consultant, and author. Her newest book is: Sweet Sorrow: Finding Enduring Wholeness After Loss and Grief (Rowman)