Walking into the master bathroom of my newly purchased home, I felt a little out of sorts. It wasn’t because anything was wrong, but because it was good. It’d been a fun evening. I had good friends and a good career in addition to the new home.
I spotted my jewelry box laid overturned with the lid closed on the floor. Picking it up I saw one solitary item had somehow “fallen out” – the tiny hands pin someone had given me when I was pregnant with Alison. I teared up saying, “thank you sweet pea! I love you.” It was the sign and connection with her I needed.
Because in all the goodness I felt disconnected from my grief, which felt like disconnection from Alison.
Although it still hurts, we expect to face the loss of our grandparents, parents and others of an older generation. Likewise, we aren’t sure how it’ll shake out, but we know the possibility of out living our significant other, siblings, and other contemporaries is real. What parents don’t anticipate is giving up the presence of their children.
When a baby is born, parents figure on being stuck with their child, for better or worse, for the remainder of their lives. Parents plan on being the ones to make the permanent exit. Living without their children feels unnatural and just plain wrong to grieving parents.
The disconnect between the past and the present, fearing guilt or anger, can be powerful blocks to growth. Re-establishing a connection with your child, including your child’s spirit in your present life, brings significant solace, relief, and a sense of permission to continue living.
Some parents naturally connect with their deceased children, others especially parents of children who couldn’t carry on a conversation, don’t see it as possible.
A connection can be established and nurtured in any number of ways.
· Signs – When you see your child’s sign you know they are connecting with you. It can be anything with a personal meaning. For me it’s ladybugs, stingrays, and rainbows. For others I know, it ranges from eagles and red cardinals, to pennies and feathers.
· Dreams – Some dreams are inevitably you processing your experiences. But some can be your child speaking to you through your dreams as it’s a time when your defenses are down and your heart more open.
· Conversation – Yep, good old fashioned conversation. I have them regularly with Alison. They are typically in my thoughts – not me speaking out loud. But I do “hear” from her nonetheless. In those convos I’ll often ask for a sign if I’m on the right track.
· Writing – Write a letter to your child, or a two way dialogue.If it feels outlandish to write a response your child would give, I encourage you to allow room for your imagination to take flight and guess what they would say.
I “talk” with Alison frequently. Her presence in my life is subtle, yet it frees me to move forward, living a bold and fun life. Even though she loved the water, because of her tracheostomy, Alison couldn’t swim.
When I’m in the line up on my surfboard and see a rainbow, I don’t feel guilty for enjoying my life in ways she couldn’t. I know Alison is smiling down, happy her mommy is playing in the water in ways she couldn’t.
Looking for more concrete tools like these? Check out these online courses.