Saying Goodbye

Shared by Olga

With all the Halloween festivities, it got me thinking about the part of the celebration that is not so much mainstream, unless you are a part of Pagan or nature-based community. The idea of the veil between the worlds being thin and reaching out to loved ones that have passed. It got me thinking and remembering my grandparents who I loved and adored, and also great-grandparents whom I’ve never met, but heard stories of from my parents. It got me thinking about how we deal with death as people and as a community. Something I didn’t think of before was that different cultures deal with death and its rituals differently. Sounds so obvious, but until I went to a funeral in the States, the thought hasn’t crossed my mind.

My first and most vivid memory of death was when my grandmother died. It was sudden and unexpected. She was young and still had a lot of life in her, but her heart decided otherwise and just gave out. I was 8 years old and until then spent all my summer breaks living with my grandparents and my sister. They lived out of the city, had a huge garden, and I enjoyed a lot of freedom, running around and playing with friends who were also staying with their grandparents on a break from the city. We got a phone call from my grandfather, in shock, that his wife of so many years is gone. When it was time to go to the funeral, I remember seeing my grandmother in the casket, in her living/dining room, place where we shared so many meals and laughs and games. She was so very still and I went over to give a kiss on the forehead, as instructed. There were so many people, sad, quiet, subdued. She was a school principal and house was filled with people I’ve never seen before. I did not cry, I just took everything in.

For many years I have not come back to the memory of my grandmother until a session of past life regression, of all things. During the induction into a light hypnotic state, we were instructed to see a safe place in our mind eye. Without any usual mind chatter, I was right in the middle of my grandparents house, standing on the stairs. And in that place, the grief was so overwhelming. Tears running down my face, I needed the encouragement of a therapist to keep going with the induction. Putting the grief on back burner, I decided to get back to it at a better time. After some time has passed, I would lie down in bed and recall that memory of the stairs, feel into the grief that was there, and just cry, sob into my pillow. It felt strange, having this experience of grief on purpose, but also so very good, so healing. And so I kept going. After few nights of this, I was able to see myself at my grandparent’s house without crying, I was able to think of my grandmother without going numb or choking up, and I was able to experience the love she had for me and I for her.

Since that healing experience, I have been able to connect to my grandmother and nourish that connection by acknowledging and doing all the things she taught me. The things I remember most are handicrafts – knitting, cooking, baking. But it was also the love of family and caretaking, qualities I am striving to emulate.

I hope that my story can encourage you to revisit a painful experience from your past and find some healing. Often we stuff our painful experiences down, never wanting to experience them, but it takes something away from us. Some sense of being alive is lost as we numb ourselves over and over again.

As the veil is thin, let our loved ones live on in our memories and in us.