Right now I should be working on my dissertation and writing a scholarly section on the Jungian significance of Synchronicities and irrational causality in the mate selecting courtship process, but after hours of dragging through the material, I just can’t bring myself to write the write-up. It’s a magnificently gorgeous day here in Los Angeles as I sit in a glass library atop a hill overlooking the City of Angels I’m having a hard time focusing on academics.

Instead of dissertating, I’ve been recollecting about how far I’ve come in the last two years and the ways in which I’ve gotten to the place to which I’ve gotten. In my mind I’m outlining a process that I would like to eventually formalize into an integrative grieving process that guides and navigates people through the stark and hellish bereaved landscape. As is consistent with the title of the blog and my point of view, this process integrates the dark and the light: a full descent into the abyss and embodiment of the pain and the darkness while also allowing for a newfound awareness of Spirit, the other side, and the miraculous overlap between the worlds that manifests in a variety of signs, symbols, and synchronicities. It is a massive overhaul of the old way of viewing death and a doorway into a new understanding of what we consider to be death. Like I have written before, it is a healing journey of faith and of opening up to new ways of perception and a six sensory type of reality.

So allow me to start mapping my process and join me as I see what happened to me and was has helped.

Three days after John passed, I happened to have had a chiropractor appointment scheduled from weeks before. Rather than cancel, I went because I knew my body was a mess, I hadn’t eaten or slept in any real capacity. I don’t remember much except that the chiropractor said that my body was barely breathing, my chest and lungs were hardly moving, and while I had been lying face down he had even wondered if I was even alive at all. I barely was. He was helpful in reminding me to breathe, and shifted some things around to help me breathe a bit more easily.

I looked for some grief support groups…and crazily enough there was a wait list for the Suicide Survivors group. In Palo Alto there’s a fantastic organisation called Kara that deals exclusively with grief and so I had an appointment with the intake director. At the end of our session (she was very empathic and supportive) she told me that she thought what I was struggling with was of course my own grief and loss but also issue relating to my own mortality and she thought that I would perhaps be best helped by working one on one with a therapist and she recommended some names.

Over the course of 9 months I worked with two different therapist. One was a transpersonally¬†oriented one and we utilized modalities such as Authentic Movement, Art Therapy, and gestalt work in addition to the usual talk therapy. I really loved the Authentic Movement (but I’m partial to movement) She also held a lot of space for me to just cry. I think she was excellent and if anyone in the Silicon Valley area would like her name, feel free to contact me through this site.

The second therapist was a Jungian expert specializing in symbols. I saw her on an occasional basis and we mostly worked on understanding my dreams. During the first 6 months after John passed, I had a very active dream life, a lot of dreams about John, and a lot of dreams about New York City. I kept a dream journal and recorded them every day. I could tell that something major was happening in my dream life and in my unconscious and I wanted to learn the language my dreams were speaking and also have a trusty translator. It really was like starting to learn a new language. I’d be happy to pass along this therapist’s contact info as well, so just email me.

In addition to keeping a dream journal I also kept two other journals: one for the regular journaling I did every night, and the other was to log all of the signs and synchronicities and messages I was receiving from John on the other side. I felt I had to write them down so I didn’t lose them or forget them, especially for the years to come. Writing has been enormously therapeutic and eight months after John’s passing I started writing my book.

In the first few months I went to acupuncture because my energy levels were so low. This was helpful.

I saw a spiritual guide on a few occasions, but eventually he wasn’t helpful because it was obvious he just didn’t get what my pain or grief was like. He encouraged me to really “surrender” and know that the pain I was feeling was God feeling separate from himself and me and that my missing John was just the separation I was feeling from God, and that in the depths of my pain I should be aware of this and when I truly became aware of this truth then I would “wake up” and no longer feel separation and despair. I’m rolling my eyes as I write this. There may be some kernels of truth in certain things about what he was saying but this was just b.s to me and minimized my loss and my excruciating pain. I then stopped seeing him.

The other practitioners I saw included a shaman- Liv – whose website I listed on the Healing Resources Page. She was powerfully helpful. She channeled John and communicated with my ancestors and others on the other side and we were able to make some sense out of what was going on. She was very instrumental in helping me learn and grow through the grief. She also opened up a doorway into a magical way of being in the world that is not just airy fairy and “delusional” side effects of grieving but rather rooted and grounded in the ancient, indigenous, shamanistic cultural heritage that is intrinsically more connected to nature and has a more interconnected relationship to the realm of Spirit. I learned these new ways and they inspired me into cultivated a new relationship with the invisible, one that is manifest through objects, nature, and ritual. Liv also did a variety of healing practices on me- soul retrieval – that is – scouting out lost parts of my soul that had broken off over the years since I have been born, as a result of trauma or fear. She said she found a lost soul part that had left when I was 29 – right after John passed. She also found and reintegrated other parts that had left at earlier ages. Whether you believe in this or not, all I can say was that regardless of the objective truth of what was or wasn’t happening, I certainly felt lighter and more in tact, and once again inspired by the possibility of the infinite and of miracles. Liv often had me do “homework” where she would give me an assignment or a ritual to do. For instance, she told me to take wine, chocolate, and flowers to the beach and sit and have a picnic with John and make offerings of flowers and a picture of John to the ocean. Another assignment was to gather with my friends and ask each of them to tell me how they saw me. Ack! That one was hard- terrifying and embarrassing, but ultimately well worth while for everyone who shared. Liv taught me several practices and rituals to do every morning during my daily morning practice, which I did for a while and I will surely share in the next installment of this post.

For now, I hope that those reading are garnering some ideas about how to begin a healing journey. I know some of my ways may be too out there or alternative, and I know in some cases resources may be an issue. Whatever the case, I hope you find some way of taking care of and befriending yourself. Maybe it’s just writing out dreams, or starting a daily journal. Maybe you’ll seek out a therapist (I hope you do– a good reputable one who has personal and professional experiences dealing with death and grief).

I will write about the other important things I did to pull myself up out of the abyss, as soon as I can.

Sending strength,

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string of moments

August 7, 2010

Today on my way back from rollerblading on the beach, i carried a skate in each hand and¬†walked barefoot through the sand. A crowd of people were gathered in a circle. Portable tables and folding chairs held in place by bags of food were set up a short distance away. A biker going by called out “Is it a funeral?” I stepped a little closer to see.¬† In the center of the crowd stood a man and a woman dressed in a white wedding dress. As i walked past, the group began to singing softly yet passionately: “And we’ll share this moment… together. And I’ll always love you…forever.” (you know that song Always & Forever, but with a wee twist)

It felt to me like some sort of sign. a low maintenance wedding abundant with love and harmony, and i happened to be walking by just at this precious moment…and i did share it with them, together. what that sign is, i don’t quite know.

i never was really a believer in signs or things like that. but after john’s passing, everything cracked. in my in-between-world state things that used to seem mundane, somehow suddenly, magically became imbued with spirit, with meaning and significance. Like the moment a bird flies across my path, or leaves brush on my head, or the right song plays on the radio at the right time, the wind blowing as if in answer to a particular thought…all have significance, and are all interconnected with me, to me, and through me.

In the cracking of realities, everything shifted. the boundaries between this world and the other side, the realm of spirit, became blurred. and in the depths of this fissure i could feel the pain of everyone and all the sorrow and suffering of the world. it swallowed me up into hell, defying and daring me to hold on as tightly as i can for as long as possible: weeks, months, years, the rest of my life.

And somehow the little things, the birds, the sun, the waves, the songs, the happenstance weddings i stumble upon, the ladybugs at my feet, the flickering of lights in my room, the rainbows, the perfect movie my tv happens to be on …all have a mystical message for me. It’s all significant. the year of magical thinking has become a life of magical seeing. and it’s a bittersweet gift.