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On Grief and Self-Care

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During this time of the year, as most of us know, the veil between this world and the spirit world is thin. This means the departed seem nearer to us, for some of us our psychic senses and abilities are amplified, and the spiritual realm seems to overflow into our mundane reality a little more clearly. I’ve personally experienced this for the last several weeks, and so I attribute much of what I want to pass along to you here to the thinning of the veil.

Not everyone’s grief is the same, just like not everyone’s relationships with people are the same, not everyone’s ways of dealing with things are the same, and most importantly not everyone’s death is the same.

Grief is as unique and personal to each individual person as their own personal beliefs. Much like politics and religion, some folks just don’t like to talk about it, or they would like to sweep it under the rug, botte it up inside, pretend it doesn’t exist. If it is uncomfortable or unpleasant, they don’t want to acknowledge it. That’s probably the worst and least healthy thing to do. Most people just don’t know what to say or how to help. So you’ll hear a lot of cliché’s like “They’re in a better place now.” And don’t let anyone tell you how long your grief should last. That is none of their business.

I am not fortunate to come from a family or culture that celebrates death, or rather – celebrates the person’s life at the time of their passing over. For those who are blessed to come from that type of environment, it is probably one of the most healthy and enriching ways to deal with the loss of a loved one.

When my own Mother passed away several years ago in 2012, it was very difficult for me for years. Don’t get me wrong, you never stop missing someone. You never stop thinking about them or loving them. You just learn to develop a different type of relationship with them and keep them in your heart and honor their spirit.

When my husband’s mother passed away in early October of this year, it was unexpected. She had Dementia and Alzheimer’s. That in itself is another form of grief, learning about such an unfair disease and trying to learn how to relate to them on their level and love them just as they are. This is a different kind of mourning, losing the person they used to be capable of being. But that is a much longer topic for another time.

So, no one’s grieving process is the same. There are no hard and fast rules or a set of “carved in stone” steps to take that are going to magically make it all better. I wish there were, but this is a learning process for each and every one of us, and if we stop learning, we stop living.

After my Mom passed within a year of my Dad several years ago, I began throwing myself into learning all I could about Dementia and Alzheimer’s, and even what can help with grief, so that even though I could no longer help my parents, I could still help others. This isn’t a sales pitch, so I am not going to list all of the products that I make and offer for such matters. But I will tell you how to make some things that can help you, with items you may already have in your kitchen cabinets, in just a little bit.

Before we get into that, I would like to share a little about my experiences over the past few weeks. I have mentioned that the veil is thin and my psychic senses have been on high alert. A couple of weeks before her passing, I felt a very strong sense that something was about to happen. I didn’t know what, but something was coming. I did a thorough spiritual cleansing and protection of my home, to be prepared for whatever may come. Little did I know that the phone call I answered in the middle of the night was the call I had been dreading and what I had been anticipating.

She had been fine, as fine as possible all things considered, until she fell asleep in a chair, never to wake up. We asked a lot of questions. What can be done? Had something happened or changed? What do we do? The answers came even though they weren’t the ones we wanted to hear. This was the end, it was the end of the natural process of life, which is just as natural as life itself but more unwelcome.

So there was nothing that could be done. The family gathered by her bedside, and we waited, we watched, and we waited some more. And we were all of the same accord, none of us knew what to do. There was nothing that could be done but to pray and let her know it was OK to go and that we loved her. There were 9 of us gathered in her little room by her bedside, with as many chairs as would fit. There was barely enough room to walk, and it was stuffy. However, I perceived there were a lot more people in the room than us, even though that was impossible. As I mentioned earlier, my senses were much more open and my perception was changed. I wasn’t surprised. I thought they were angels, but they were family that had gone before. They were waiting for her, to say hello, like we were waiting to say goodbye, or “Later”. Every so often, I could hear an old-fashioned telephone ringing. I asked the others, and no one else heard it. She was being called, and she would answer when she was ready. And she did.

I come from the south, where women handle these things by doing what is necessary, taking care of the details, tending to the needs of others, cleaning, and a lot of cooking. When that’s all done, then what? Once the funeral is over, after the lunch, after everyone quits calling every day to check on each other, once all the thank-you cards are written, what do you do with yourself? At some point, you have to stop and realize that you cannot pour from an empty pitcher.

It’s not selfish to take care of your own self. This means your inner-self as well. Don’t be afraid to let yourself have some quiet time. Don’t be afraid or ashamed to cry. Don’t be afraid to scream in the middle of the woods if that’s what you need to do.

And when you come in from the woods, take your spiritual bath. Display their photo in a special place. Wear you Mom’s ring. Bake that recipe she made so well. Display some of her favorite things next to her photo. Light a candle in front of your Dad’s photo and talk to him. Ask him for guidance, what you should do, tell him what’s new with you, have a visit over a cup of coffee.

The nature of our relationship changes. We adapt. If we don’t, we’re missing out on a pretty wonderful continuation of our relationship with them. It isn’t gone, it simply evolved. You can still love them on their level. Continually ask yourself, what can I learn from this? What does Spirit have to teach me?

It’s OK to grieve, it’s OK to mourn. It’s good, and it is natural. Just don’t get stuck in the sadness. Don’t get stuck on what they used to do for you, what they used to mean to you. Rather, think about what do you miss doing for them? Did you used to bring your Mom some takeout? Buy it like you used to and give it to a stranger who looks like they could use a good meal. Did you use to give the books you were finished with to your Dad? Donate them to the nursing home. Give the kindness in your heart to someone else who needs it. Be a blessing to someone else. It will come back to you, especially when you don’t intend for it to.

All of that love in your heart with no outlet is part of grief. Give that love, that kindness, those favors to someone else. It’s what your loved one would have approved of. And it doesn’t mean you are slighting them. The photos in a special place I mentioned earlier – that’s your ancestral altar. That is your way of doing nice things for them. That is your space to share your home and your life with them, as well as in your own heart.

Once that kindness and generosity within you has an outlet, you will feel a weight lifted off of you. Some days it is going to be a simple matter of being kind to yourself, as well. You get out of bed, put one foot on the floor at a time, make yourself take steps, and you’re already on your way to being good to yourself. There are simple baby steps you can take to help you make your way through this. Attend to your own needs, make yourself a cup of tea or something to eat. Clean up the kitchen a little, make your bed. I promise you because I know, these simple acts are like exercise that will make you stronger when you are weak.

As I promised earlier, I’m going to share with you a simple recipe for a spiritual bath to help with grieving. Most of these things can be found in the spice aisle of the market, or in a botanica or an international grocery store.

Herbal Bath for Easing Grief

Cloves – Brings comfort during bereavement

Sage – Cleanses away negative energy and helps when dealing with a loss

Thyme – Time heals all. Use for healing and easing grief.

Calendula – for comfort and strength

Marjoram – to help with sadness and grief

Place your herbs in a cotton or organza drawstring bag, or tie up in a cloth or even a tea bag and drop it into your bath water to make a bath tea. This helps prevent herbs from clogging your drain. You can also squeeze the water out of the cloth, and let the bath tea flow down on you, while visualizing it soothing your pain and washing away your sadness.

You can also carry an Obsidian or Apache Tears gemstone with you. These help with grief, acceptance, and protect you from negative energies and deflect psychic attacks while you are vulnerable. They can help keep you grounded and centered. It is said that Apache Tears shed the tears of sadness on behalf of the one who carries it.

Something I like to do on every full moon is light some special incense I save for special occasions for my Mom and Dad. It doesn’t have to be fancy, just reserved for special purposes. I also like to light a beeswax candle for them. Rituals or ancestral altars don’t have to be complicated. Many people like to offer a cup of water, or whatever their departed loved one liked to drink, or even a plate of the same meal you have prepared for your own dinner.

Originally published in the November issue of the Witching Hour Magazine

Copyright Sherry Scott 2019 


 

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