Tag Archives: afterlife

Relationships with Deceased Loved Ones Continue, Change, and Grow

Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, photoshops a collage of herself and her daughter's images to represent ongoing relationships with deceased loved ones.My daughter used to tell me “Go fall off a mountain, Mom” and “I hope you drown.” After she died, six years ago, I kept hearing her voice.

Rocky relationships lead to complicated grief. Bonds with your deceased loved one, complex or otherwise, continue unless you intentionally detach yourself. Current grief theories no longer demand an ending point or detachment from the deceased in order for an individual to be considered healthy and well adjusted. Counselors acknowledge that we find ways to redefine our relationships with loved ones after they die, often creating ongoing connections that can last our lifetime. These relationships can evolve and mature, especially if they were of an abusive or dysfunctional nature. They can make you into a stronger, more compassionate person. If you want to witness this, listen to Sherman Alexie’s audiobook version of his new memoir You Don’t have to Say You Love Me, produced by Hachette Audio, 2017. Renowned author, poet, and filmmaker, Alexie struggles to come to terms with his chaotic childhood on the Spokane Indian Reservation with the mother he simultaneously loved and hated.

There are many ways to maintain long term ties with loved ones after death. Some of the ones Alexie employs in his memoir are: talking to his mother, keeping her photos, remembering the ways she influenced his life, imagining her advice or opinions on current issues, living in a way that would make her proud, saving her quilts and other special belongings, allowing himself to experience her presence, doing things she liked to do, writing letters and poems to her, and researching her life to learn what made her the person she was. In the audiobook version, read with great passion by the author, Alexie sings, cries, reads his mother’s words aloud, and speaks for her. She becomes a part of him. “I have a better relationship with my mother – with the memory of my mother. A better relationship with her ghost,” he writes on the box that contains the CDs.

Long after my daughter died I kept talking to her. With time, her harsh words softened and I heard her begin to support me, cheering me on when I was scared, “Go for it, Mom. You can do this.” Each day I carry her with me to whatever new venture the day brings. I’m a bigger, better person because of her.

 

Do you talk to any ghosts? How do you feel about listening to audiobooks versus reading? Have you listened to or read any great memoirs lately?

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My Experience With a Medium

Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, photoshops a healing mandala with images of bare trees and her daughter who died of leukemia.There are some things one should never do alone. Like get a tattoo. Drink expensive wine. Or die. Going to some stranger’s house to track down your child who’s been dead five years is definitely one of those things you need to do with a friend.

“I have a message from your daughter,” I’d been told by two different people shortly after Marika’s death. “She wants you to know she’s okay.” I’d ignored these “messages.” For years it never occurred to me they might be anything more than senseless remarks thrown at me to squelch my sadness.

Then one day I met another bereaved mother who, in all her grief, was disintegrating and dying right in front of me. When I saw her again, a month later, she was bright-eyed and bouncing. “I saw a medium,” she beamed. And even though I was skeptical about such things, I started reading The Light Between Us by Laura Lynne Jackson. I read After This: When Life is over Where Do We Go? by Claire Bidwell Smith, and other books about afterlife and contacting deceased loved ones. It made me wonder, what if they’re not gone? What if their spirits remain somehow?

It was only right that I test the idea out. It would be an adventure. It could lead to joy. Wasn’t that my mission these days – to find joy? But when it came down to actually setting up an appointment, I kept finding excuses to put off the call. And I realized I was terrified. Because not knowing for sure meant anything was possible. Seeing a medium could verify that part of my daughter was indeed still here with me. But if I went to a medium and had my doubts confirmed, I could lose all my hope.

Another friend agreed to share a session with a medium. She sat next to me on a small couch in a cozy room while a lot of “spirits,” visible only to our medium, hung out in the space around us. At each question or communication I turned my head to see my friend nod and smile. Our eyes met only a few times, when what was presented didn’t apply to her, “No one I know.” “Not for me either,” I said.

No one and nothing “came out” for me. Except that I was an artist. The medium was adamant, I should explore my artistic abilities. And in my head I was screaming, “I’ve been an artist over half a century. But can’t you see I’ve lost my daughter? Where’s Marika? I want my father, my Omi Rosie.” They didn’t show up. I almost cried.

“I want to go back again for another reading,” my friend said as we got in the car.

 

What experience have you had with mediums or contacting loved ones who have died? Do you believe our spirits live on after death?

 

 

 

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