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A Spiritually Enlightening Online Magazine. March's Theme: "Reflection"
Volume 5 Issue 3 ISSN# 1708-3265
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Reflecting on Transitions Within Transitions
by Rev. Cheryl Jewett

Like ripples on a pond, the shocking news of a loved one's passing can throw you into a never-ending transition. Life will never again be the same. Missing is a vital part of you and your life. When my youngest son, John age 31, was killed several years ago in an automobile accident, I felt as though a part of my heart went with him. It did. Who I carried in my womb for nine months, who I raised for many years, that physical aspect was gone, body separating from personality forever.

Reflecting on the times you shared with your loved one(s) is a way of keeping them alive in your heart. Maintaining a family connection with the one who has passed over to the Other Shore. A spiritual connection where the physical presence no longer exists. Quite often, as you share these times, you will find yourself simultaneously laughing and crying.

To be better able to remember these times, you need to be in the now, the present moment, before death, so you don't miss anything. For example, commit to memory their laugh and how it sounds, the way their eyes crinkle when they laugh, the extent to which the laughter goes - full body/belly laugh to a twitter, or vice versa. Wide open mouth or merely a closed-mouth grin. The things which set off a laugh by that person. This is the stuff reflections are made of after the physical presence is gone.

Memories, reflections can be a saving grace as you walk the path of bereavement. Special times like graduations, engagements, weddings, bringing home baby, anniversaries, birthdays, 1st day of school, life stages such as toddler, teenager, young adult, and so on. It is moments like these we carry in our hearts, moments like these we reflect on during difficult times, moments like these which tend to balance out the highs and lows of life - knowing life is for the living. Life is for the moment. Life is for LOVE and COMPASSION toward all of life.

When death does visit upon us, though, our lives become consumed by it, a whole host of issues presenting themselves, some with more immediacy than others. Add to that the shock, the anguish, the rushing jumble of emotions, and you can feel like you've fallen off the edge of your world spiraling into your worst nightmare.

Highly emotional happenings have the potential to bring out the best and the worst in everyone. Feelings are hurt when people say insensitive things to the grieving person. "It's for the best." "You can always have another one (baby)." "Aren't you over his death yet?" Like there's a time limit involved. There is no correct way to grieve; in fact, it's different for everyone, so ignore those who would pressure you to "get over it".

Yet, so many questions need answers, at a time like this. Financial, insurance, and belief systems issues arise, each demanding your attention. What funeral director will be used? When and where will the service be? Who will officiate? Open or closed casket? Burial or cremation? Ashes scattered or buried in an urn? And, does the family desire flowers, or do they prefer donations to a charitable organization. And, what about visitations? What outfit should the deceased be viewed in? Obituary? Which newspapers? When and how often? Wording of the obituary. Who to include as survivors.

Some people want to list every last relative and friend, yet others will note just close relatives. A friend of mine who died recently at the ripe old age of ninety-three, had twenty-five grandchildren and forty-five great-grandchildren, and every single one of them was listed in that obituary. Gracie was a special lady, no doubt. No wonder the dear sweet woman couldn't remember all of their names and birthdates.

Family, friends, and employer need to be notified. And, arrangements for those coming from out of town need to be made. Who has space to accommodate how many people? Often, you will see or hear from people who haven't been in your life for years, even decades. What type of relationship might spring out of these bonds, if any? Will any of these new relationships impact current affiliations? If so, how? Will a brother suddenly become more a part of your life than before? So many questions to be answered at a time when the mind feels like it seems to be missing in action.

But you wonder, what will your life be like without this special person beside you? Who now will pay the bills? Who will make sure the car is maintained, the house maintained, the grass is mowed? Who will keep track of family and friends' birthdays and anniversaries? What about making sure taxes get filed and appropriate deductions are made? And, that other trivial mundane tasks get done, like cleaning out the refrigerator periodically, or making sure important documents get filed in the right place? Is help now going to be needed for grocery shopping or doctor's appointments? Major decisions surely should wait, if possible, for at least a year after the death, a time when you can think more clearly.

After all of these immediate issues are addressed and the new reality sinks in, awareness of any relationship changes can either cause turmoil or offer incredible calmness. Can either blindside you, or be totally expected and accepted. Can either add to your worries or resolve them easily and effortlessly. Death of a loved one is only one transition in the midst of so many other changes. When one relationship changes, you know other relationships are bound to change. That's just the nature of transitions within transitions.

After John was killed, what was termed as obsession by those close to me, I described as intense interest way beyond these practical issues. I wanted to read everything I could about death. I bought books about the afterlife, angels, and the actual process of dying and moving on to a spirit world. This friend of mine was confused, and I must say, a bit put off by my intense interest in the subject. But, it was so comforting to me, and I found myself better able to further extend that comfort to others around me.

A dear friend who became my grief cyber-buddy after her son, John, had been killed in a tragic automobile accident two months before my son, once pondered, why she was so upset. She told me that she was a Christian and if she really believed, then she should be happy her son, John, was with God in Heaven. The pain of loss for her, at that point, though, was way too heavy for her to shift her thoughts toward any thoughts of happiness over her son's death.

During these tumultuous times, relationships can shift as drastically as people caught in the waves of a tsunami. Emotions can run rampant and sometimes, roughshod over others. Roles and responsibilities that were perhaps once not yours, can drop in your lap quicker than a falling star. And, it can overtake you almost before you know it, adding further stress to the numbness and shock which comes with highly charged emotional situations such as these.

Quite often, you find yourself thrust into an unfamiliar role as primary decision maker for decisions you never ever thought you'd have to make. For the person who has passed away, you hope some forethought was given to the eventuality of death, and the person did some pre-planning. Certainly, crucial and difficult decisions would be lessened significantly for those left behind. Pre-planning is so very important, yet far too often, put off because people really don't want to think about death, especially their own. In a Will, a Living Will, and Final Wishes, everything can be spelled out specifically, so no one has any question about what needs to be done or how it is all to be handled. All the forms you would need, can be obtained from the library or online, although some people feel more comfortable having a lawyer do them.

If you have a Will, there's no question who gets what, be it monetary or just a treasured belonging or thoughts being passed forward. With a Living Will, everyone knows what you would want done in a life or death situation. No one has to make that final decision, if it comes to it, of pulling the plug. When my sister-in-law was in a coma and not expected to live, she took control of the situation and died literally as it was being discussed who would pull the plug. I believe people have that capability even though they are unconscious. The Spirit is a powerful entity.

Final wishes are different than a Will or a Living Will. It addresses all the issues which come up after death from a personal perspective. Specifically, what kind of service you want, what emotional messages of love and support you wish to leave to individuals, organizations, or community. Included might be any concerns you have as you leave this physical world. You could mention any music or prayers you wish to have included in your service. Perhaps, pictures you wish on display at your memorial.

As painful a time as this can be, it's also a time of spiritual growth. With each decision, each moment, you are learning and growing. Slowly and surely, and not necessarily, a pretentious revelation. People in crisis find a spiritual connection of some type for a reason. It is the one relationship you can count on in the midst of all other change, no matter what you choose to call your spiritual foundation - the Holy Spirit, Krishna, Jehovah, Jesus, God, the Great Spirit. It is the Constant, the Unchanging, the Arms who carry you when the pain is too much to bear, too much for you to walk through anymore. Lean on this Powerful Peaceful Presence. More than anything or anyone else, That Spiritual Presence can be your saving grace amidst the chaos. God bless.

Cheryl, from Michigan, says, "Having had Multiple Sclerosis for almost thirty years, I've learned much about adapting and squeezing joy out of life. Therefore, I am a metaphysical minister who believes God is in everything, everywhere. And, the Sweet God-Spirit surely lives in my little Maya-puppy, who kept me connected with life after my youngest son was killed in a freak automobile accident ten years ago."

Cheryl seeks to inspire healing, so she developed a website dedicated to those who are grieving.

Copyright (c) 2008 by Timeless Spirit Magazine. All articles are the copyright of the particular writers and cannot be reprinted without their expressed permission. All rights reserved. International copyright laws prohibit reproduction of or distribution of this page by any means whatsoever, electronic or otherwise, without first obtaining the written permission of the copyright holder. We retain legal counsel to protect our copyrights.

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