In my book Brave in a New World, I touch on the topic of the supernatural, those occurrences that one would characterize as “other-worldly phenomena” that people might experience after one has passed away. I decided to use the word supernatural because I consider these “events” to be beyond the physical, inexplicable and can be comforting at best, scary and unsettling at worse. One must not only be ready,but open and paying attention, in order not to miss the possible signs from our loved ones who have passed on. When we catch these signs, I believe it is a way of them letting us know that they are still with us although they are no longer on this plane.
When my husband Chuck passed away, I was not aware of anything other than my feelings and how rapidly I was becoming numb.Actually, that very weekend that he died, there were odd things taking place that I really didn’t pay attention to and I didn’t make a connection to my husband’s death until some time after.The evening on the day that my husband died, the light bulbs in my apartment kept burning out. I couldn’t figure out why, as night was not my friend, and the first night sleeping alone was something that I dreaded more than anything. The living room and dining room light bulbs blew out, my bedroom lights started flickering, and the ceiling lights in my foyer also began to dim. All I could think was that I needed to keep a supply of bulbs on hand because I didn’t want to be stuck alone in the dark.Weeks later, I entered my elevator and as the doors closed and the elevator descended the lights went out. So imagine me in a completely dark elevator, the only light was streaming in from the view panel as it passed from floor to floor. This was very unnerving, but I remained calm until I got to the first floor and I walked over to my concierge to tell them that the elevator lights had gone out. When the doorman immediately went to check everything was back to normal and the lights were back on. By now,I was beginning to wonder if this was some type of signal from “beyond”, maybe my husband was trying to communicate with me, but still I brushed it off as merely “coincidence”. Then one afternoon as I sat at my dining room table with a friend, the lights above the table began to flicker, like a Morse Code signal. I tried to ignore it, and my friend said “Yvonne, that’s Chuck.” It was around this time, as I thought about the recent string of events, that I became convinced that my husband was trying to communicate with me, let me know that he was near, that he was okay.I would continue to have these experiences throughout the first and second year after Chuck had passed away. At first they were very unsettling, but eventually I just got used to it.I didn’t welcome them, but I figured that this was a part of my new normal.There were not a lot of dreams about Chuck, only a few, always vivid,Chuck mute,sending silent,important messages.I recorded them all, but in recent years there have been less dreams.I’m now able to decipher a few as I continue on my life’s journey.It’s as though Chuck understood how much I needed him in the beginning of my grief journey,but as time wore on he knew that less was more, and he didn’t want to hamper me going forward.
When I went to join my bereavement group, I hadn’t been back to the place where Chuck and I spent many days which was the hospital where he received his cancer treatment. The day that I made my way back to this facility I really didn’t expect to experience any emotion, but as I told my story to the facilitator, I burst, unexpectedly, into tears. What I thought would have been a routine visit turned into a very emotionally taxing afternoon. I left the building and caught a cab toward home. As I sat in the back it became unexpectedly windy outside, so I rolled up the window but for half an inch. I was really sad and teary, then suddenly a few pink flowers flew into the small opening and landed on my lap. I was so startled I let out a little scream. I’m sure the driver thought I was a little nutty for sure. I immediately realized that my husband sent those flowers to me to let me know that he was aware, he was near, and that it would be okay. It was a sign of his presence still in my life, a sign of affection and assurance. The flowers were a symbol of how he brought me flowers practically every week, roses or tulips,thus this was a familiar sign of his love and protection, although he was no longer here.
There were many occurrences of this sort, but I never talked about them as I figured people would think I was a little crazy or they would brush it off as my active imagination as I tried to recover from my loss. But about three years after his death, I was surprised at how so many people asked me if I’d had signs from Chuck.” One physician actually asked me, “Has your husband come to you?” Since then I’ve had so many people, men and women who’ve had the courage to ask me if I’ve had apparitions, or had signs of Chuck’s presence around me. I have met other widows and widowers who have shared their own “supernatural experiences” and others who have lost parents and siblings who’ve also shared a story or two. These experiences transcend race,creed, or cultural background. Ordinarily I would never have encountered anyone who spoke of such things. There are tons of stories about spiritual phenomenon that occur after the passing of a loved one; they’re the things that people are afraid to talk about,and now these things were happening to me. It is a “taboo topic” that has been hidden, but because of the work that I’m doing, people feel comfortable sharing their personal stories with me.
Writing about my grief journey, talking about the things that are supposed to be verboten, helps others understand what they are going through. When we talk about these things it helps all of us ,who will experience the loss of a loved one at some point or another,to understand our mixed bag of feelings as well as the strange occurrences that might happen after loss.We are helping not only ourselves but others as we get on with the business of rebuilding our lives after loss. Being able to express our feelings and our thoughts without feeling that we will be judged, criticized, ridiculed, or condemned, is key to helping us move forward on our grief journey. Those who are grieving are already experiencing feelings of anxiety, depression, emotional distress, panic, aloneness. But there are these other experiences that can also be attached to our grief journey, and it would be nice to know that there are people out there who can listen,hear and sometimes even validate our own feelings and stories.It is important to understand that although our loved ones are no longer with us, we can still continue a relationship with them.This may sound weird or strange to many, but it’s actually more commonplace than you can imagine. As we gain the renewed strength to rebuild our lives, one should be able to move ahead without having to face fear of judgment,criticism or apathy.One’s total grief experience should be able to be shared as one attempts to make sense and rebuild a life going forward.There should be no shame in the totality of our experiences after losing a loved,and consequently,no shame in spiritual phenomena or experiences,should we have such. We have already gone through the pain of the loss and the road to recovery should not be hampered by judgment.Whatever we experience,or don’t ,after our loved ones have passed,should not bring us more grief but comfort in the knowledge that our lives can still be connected to our loved ones but in a new way.
I’ve come to believe that if you feel that you can continue a relationship with your loved one you will know and see the signs. If you feel that you cannot, and that your loved one is dead, then they are dead. Those who grieve have that choice,as it is up to each individual who grieves to make a choice that is best for them.