During a conversation over lunch, catching up on all that had transpired since we last saw each other, a friend told me that her brother had recently passed away.
I was naturally surprised and saddened to hear this. She was well aware of my son’s transition in May of 2017 and knew that I had written a book about my grief journey. However, I wasn’t sure if she knew the depth to which I had written about the connections we continue to have with our loved one in spirit.
Aware that this is not everyone’s belief, I gently expressed to her that my son and her brother might still be around in spirit, and with no hesitation, she wholeheartedly agreed. She then proceeded to tell me about something that had occurred the day after his passing.
That morning, still fresh with grief, my friend was getting ready to leave to face the grim business of arranging her brother’s services. As she opened the door and stepped out, a small gust of wind blew into her face and enveloped her. It had the distinct scent of his cologne, and she felt an immediate sense of his presence.
Of course, she looked around to see if anyone else was there, but no one was. She was immediately overcome with an indescribable peace, a peace that provided her with a few moments of absolute love from her brother and which eased her grief for those moments. She felt it was his way of sending her his love and saying all was well.
When my son died suddenly six years ago, I had no idea it was possible to experience a connection with him. But in the years that followed, I have indeed had various affirmations that his love is still with me. And I know I am not the only one.
When a loved one transitions, someone who is the world to you, it feels like you have lost a part of yourself. This is exactly how so many people describe it. We feel that way because of the connection we had, a deep connection at a level we can’t even fully express.
During those early months after my 24-year-old son, Eric, passed away in a car accident, I cried each night when I went to bed. I had held it together for most of the day, but the emotions came out as soon as my head hit the pillow.
I learned about self-guided meditations, which I would use to soothe myself by guiding myself to a beautiful place of my choosing, usually a sandy beach with clear blue water and palm trees. I usually spent about 10 minutes guiding myself through a lovely pathway of trees, flowers, hills and grasses that eventually led to that glorious beach. I created many details that included a table and two chairs overlooking the water where I could sit with Eric, have a latte and talk, enjoying the breeze and the scent of the ocean.
I knew it was something created by my mind. Regardless, it felt like I had spent time with him, and it brought me comfort.
But one night I was extra tired when I went to bed. I said to Eric that I was going to skip the pathway and just see him at the table overlooking the beach. In my imagination, I sat at the table and saw him approaching me from a short distance, wearing his usual jeans, T-shirt and baseball cap. This, I expected. The next thing that happened took me totally by surprise.
Within the first 20 seconds of the meditation, as I cried, I heard… in my right ear… “I’m right here, Mom.”
I heard my son tell me that he is right here.
I had imagined the beach and the rolling waves and the cool breeze. I had imagined the quaint seaside table and the chairs where I waited as Eric walked toward me. But I had not imagined him telling me that he was right here.
It was a surreal moment, a moment of peace that cannot be described in our human words. I was enveloped and held by this love. It was a gift. It was a glimpse.
Trying to explain this experience to someone who is skeptical can be a bit painful and is often met with phrases like “That’s what grief can do to your mind,” or “You must have been dreaming.” Ultimately, there is no need to ever explain myself to anyone else. I know what that was.
I have since heard and read hundreds of accounts of these connections. Some of these experiences include interactions with nature, such as a bird hanging out outside someone’s window for hours at a time, a bare dormant plant in the middle of winter suddenly blossoming overnight, feeling a gentle and loving hug while sleeping, receiving a text from a deceased loved one, even hearing or seeing one’s loved one, etc.
It’s not about what someone else might say. My belief today is that our connection to a loved one who has passed is eternal. Sometimes we don’t realize this because the loss of our loved one’s physical presence is so overwhelming. But whether we realize it or not, we are also strongly connected to their essence, to their soul. If we are open to it, that connection will never go away.
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