Connecting With The Dead

Featured imageThere are a lot of con men out there who make a fortune from people who miss their departed loved ones, and want to communicate with them.  They are only too happy to relieve people of their money so they can supposedly communicate with their departed relatives.  They speak in generalizations, and people wanting to believe, latch onto whatever they say, in hopes of hearing words of comfort.  Taking advantage of people and exploiting their grief is unconscionable in my opinion.

Recently I went to grief counseling at the local hospice where my dad passed away.  The counselor was trained and comforting. I told her that I am unable to express my grief at home because I don’t want to upset my mom, and that when I do express grief, my mom says that my grief is not as bad as hers.  The counselor pointed out that my grief is mine, and my mom’s is my mom’s, and hers does not negate mine.  When someone grieves, no one can say their’s is worse, and therefore yours doesn’t matter.  Each one feels the loss in their own way, and they can’t be compared or say one person’s is worse than another’s.  I own my grief, and my mom owns hers.  The idea was freeing in a way.

I was surprised when she asked me how I “connect” with my dad.  I told her that I only pray to God, not to deceased relatives. She said that was not what she meant.  She meant in what ways to I remember my dad.  I told her that I I have been blogging about my grief, and it has been an outlet to express my pain.  I also share about my dad in anecdotes when I’m speaking.  She said writing is a good way to express my feelings, but when I share stories about my dad, I’m connecting with him.  I’m recalling memories of him and in some way, and its a connection.  I realized that when I share about my grandparents, I am also connecting with them.  The comment also helped me understand my mom.

Since my father passed away, my mom talks constantly about my dad.  Not just her expressions of missing him and wishing she died with him, but she constantly is sharing stories of their lives together;  when they were young and first married;  when I was born, or when we went somewhere on vacation.  My mom was using these memories to connect with my dad.  By recalling the past, she was holding on to him; comforting herself with a time when he was here, and how happy she was.

Stories can be powerful tools to teach values and ethics, but they can also be comforting tools to bring us to another time, when we were with people we loved.  Up until now, I tried to get my mom’s mind off the past, but I now realize that was not helping her.  I let her tell her stories, so she might comfort herself with her memories.  I probably will use some of them in my messages, partly because I’ve heard them over and over, and partly because they make my dad more alive to me.  The book of Ecclesiastes says, “It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart.”  In the House of Mourning, we find wisdom and comfort.  The best way to bring comfort is to listen to those who mourn.

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3 thoughts on “Connecting With The Dead

  1. Michael that was good, I wished I had been given such wisdom and “PERMISSION” when Winnie had died. However there were people who told me to move on, how stupid they where. Roxane does not mind hearing the stories in fact she shows an interest in knowing.

  2. It seems to me that nobody’s grief could equal that of a surviving spouse. That said, I agree with you and the counselor. Nothing is to be gained by comparing one person’s grief with another’s. As you said, you own yours and she owns hers, and of course they are not alike.

    You do well to let her run on and on about how wonderful he was and how she misses him. She doesn’t want you or anyone to try to take her mind off her memories. I think that for her to stop remembering and to think of other things might subconsciously seem to her as a form of unfaithfulness to the love of her life, which would go against everything she holds sacred. My stepmother was like that when my father died, and they were together only just a few years. As time passed, though, her remembrances got more and more healthy. After a few years, she still had all the memories, but she could deal with daily life just fine at the same time.

    Shalom to you, Rabbi

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