A Word From The Witch

Book & Candle Comments
I will make my message as brief as possible today. My soul is drained and my heart is very heavy. I started once to go back to our old group on September 11 and see what I had to say then. But I didn’t. No matter what I said then or say now words will not help those amongst us who are hurting today.

 

I have lost loved ones myself and no words spoken to me ever healed the hurt. And no words ever will. It is extremely hard to deal with when your loved one is suddenly took from you. It takes a very long time to adjust to the fact they are gone forever. Even as witches, we are not granted the power of knowing when someone’s or our own last day will be. I believe we are not meant to know.

 

When our time comes, we will be taken from this plane to the next. It leaves the ones we love behind to cry with the loss and the heartache. But really there should be no crying because our loved ones have gone home to be with our Great Mother, the Goddess.

 

There are times I stop to think about my mother and sister. I begin to cry. Then I imagine my crossing over the Rainbow bridge and in the distance I see two figures. These figures are running to me, they are my sister and mother. The tears of sorrow are now tears of joy. We hug, we kiss, we laugh, what a beautiful day it will be to see them again. Just think what a beautiful day it will be to see all of our relatives and loved ones that have gone before us.

 

Today let’s take those tears of sadness and loss and turn them to tears of joy. Take the loved ones that you have here with you, hug them so tight and tell them how much you love them. Tell them not only today but each day of the year. Let them know how special they are to us.

 

For we know not when our time will come but it will come….

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Death And The Witch {Part 2 – Ceremony of Remembrance To Follow}

Death And The Witch

{Part 2 – Ceremony of Remembrance To Follow}

 

Witches believe that when a person or pet passes away, they still have the ability to hear you and be with you. This doesn’t mean they are “stuck” and can’t go on, it just means that Spirit provides the deceased with the ability of lending love and support to those who are still living until they realize in their hearts that death is not the final chapter, only a new one. Most Witches believe that once the deceased individual has given some type of farewell, the spirit of the person goes to a truly wonderful place beyond our realms of understanding called the Summerland. In the Summerland we grow strong again, review what we did in the last life, learn new things, and choose (or not) to return to the Earth plane once again. This belief is called reincarnation, where we are born, live, die and are born again — the sacred cycle of life and death.

When dealing with death, the people left behind need some type of closure, especially if the death was a sudden one. It is thought by some that there is a resting time from death until the person is able to communicate with you, and for some this time will be longer than others. The condition of your emotions also has a lot to do with their ability to communicate with you. If you are extremely upset, or believe that dead is dead is dead, with no hope of message, then

they may not be able to go through for quite a

while

The American public does not deal well with death, although we watch gaint-screen movies of murder and mayhem, read mystery books by the truckload, and never miss America’ Most Wanted. When it comes into our own back yard, however, we seem to be at a loss as to what to do. Some Wiccans have ancestral altars or shrines where they honor deceased friends and relative on a regular basis. Mine is a shelf on my desk that contain several photographs.

Wicca is a religion of freedom and you will find this is our funerary rites and crossing rituals. There is no specific way to conduct either. And where other religions require the wearing of black, Wiccans normally wear white which means that we honor Spirit and we honor the new birth of the individual whose has passed away.

Although the funeral and the crossing can be the same thing, they can also be separate ceremonies. The funeral is conducted for the grief of the living and the crossing is done to ensure that the loved ones find their way safely to the other side of the veil. The reason for separate ceremonies, sadly, is that although the deceased may be Wiccan, his or her family may follow a different faith and insist on doing it their way. When this occurs, the crossing is a separate matter done by coven members or close friends who had no problem with the faith of the Witch. Sometimes Wiccans are buried with their measure taken at the time of initiation, the original candle ends from that ceremony, and a few of their favorite tools.

Crossings are also done in honor.

Excerpt from:

“Rite of Passage”
The Ultimate Book of Shadows
for the New Generation
Solitary Witch
by Silver RavenWolf

The Daily OM for January 14th – Circling the Wagons

Circling the Wagons

Surrounding with Protective Light

by Madisyn Taylor

 

As we join our energy with those in circle, we become part of something that is more powerful than the individuals within it.

There are times when we may know of someone who is in great need and wants help, but we may feel at a loss about how best to help them. It is at such times that we can ask for help in surrounding them with support and protection, just like the pioneers once circled their wagons in the middle of unknown territory. Whether this means turning to an already established community such as a service organization or gathering support from diverse sources, a group of people can be brought together to help an individual or an entire community. It doesn’t always take money to help someone either–cooking, cleaning, driving, fund raising, or offering emotional support are all valuable and have the added benefit of the closeness of the human touch. In any case, the universe sends angels in the form of willing friends or strangers to gather their individual lights to surround those in need with the warmth of compassion.

Some people may have difficulty accepting or even recognizing aid when it appears in unexpected guises from unlikely sources. All we can do is to follow our inner guidance, give when we are moved to do so and shine our light to the best of our ability. As we join our energy with those in the circle, we become part of something that is larger and more powerful than the individuals within it.

When we act as part of a community of service like this, we are reminded that we are not only assisting an individual or select group in the moment, but we are serving the greater good. We are creating a better world, and can rest assured that help will be there for us as well. As we offer our own light to the collective glow to help someone through a time of darkness, all of our lights become brighter. We can live every day from this place of light, knowing the freedom from fear and worry that allows us to receive and share the protective and supportive light of life.

The Daily OM

The Daily OM For December 31st – Letting Yourself Be Seen

Letting Yourself Be Seen

Being Witnessed

by Madisyn Taylor

A powerful healing tool can be allowing yourself to be witnessed by your friends, sharing your pain to a listening audience.

When we allow ourselves to be witnessed by another, we cannot help but be transformed by the experience. Whether we are sharing a personal experience, standing in front of friends to celebrate a special occasion, or expressing our unbridled joy or sorrow in front of a loved one, we are allowing ourselves to be seen and experienced in a very intimate way. Not only are we baring ourselves to someone else, but we are allowing that person to hold a very specific kind of space with us so this powerful act can take place. To be witnessed is to let ourselves be seen as we truly are in that moment.

Our friends and loved ones can easily be witnesses for us, if only we are brave enough to let them. Your next birthday may be the perfect occasion to experience this sacred act: Invite your friends and loved ones to your special day. During the celebration, stand in front of them and thank them for being there for you. Feel their gratitude, attention, warmth, and support, while noticing the sense of safety you feel as they surround you. If you feel inspired, share your innermost thoughts about the day and your life. You may be surprised at the feelings of peace and validation that arise within you, when you feel safe enough to go deep into your soul and share yourself with those you trust.

Anyone who has ever seen love, admiration, acceptance, or appreciation reflected in a friend or loved one’s eyes knows how transformative that experience can be. When you bare yourself to another, you are giving them the gift of you and showing them that they also matter. In letting yourself be witnessed, you are letting others into your intimate space, stepping in the sacred container they have created for you, and creating a cauldron of positive affirmation, support, love, and goodwill that will stay with you forever.

 

Daily OM

Living Life As The Witch – Dealing With Grief: Let the Healing Begin

Blessed Be Comments

Let the Healing Begin

 

The hardest part in overcoming grief is taking the first step because you’ll have an “I don’t care” attitude. Along with pain, you feel a great apathy toward life. That is typical. The first spell work I performed–and still perform–to relieve myself of grief and depression is speaking an affirmation or a devotional daily.

It doesn’t need to be lengthy. Just saying out loud that you’re not alone and that your loved one is still with you in some way is a great help. Whether they have passed on or simply passed out of your life, the part they’ve had in making you the person you are today will never go away. Now is also a good time to thank your Guardian Spirits for their help. If you’re up to it, light a candle on your altar as you do this. At night, thank the Divine Spirit for returning you home safely. If you’re mourning the passing of a loved one, don’t be surprised if you feel a gentle touch at this time. They are close to you.

Dreams can also be important now, although they’re not easy for us to control. However, a deceased loved one will most likely contact you during a dream. This can be most comforting. Try to remember the details of the dream because they may contain messages.

Receiving Help

Since many witches belong to covens, the coven would be an ideal place to start if you feel the need of a support group. And if professional help is needed, you can begin by talking to your doctor. He or she will often be able to recommend a local therapist or counselor who specializes in grief or in the specific situation you are facing.

A note on giving help: If you know someone who is grieving and you’re both part of the magickal community, please don’t do any type of spell work without being asked. This could cause bad karma.

References:

Excerpt from:
The Sun Also Rises:
Dealing with Grief
James Kambos

~Magickal Graphics~

Greetings & Blessings to All My Wonderful Friends & Family!

Sympathy Comments

I am apologize for running late today. I was trying to get all my material ready for this day. Today is a very sad and sobering day for myself. I know at this site we have huge family of followers and perhaps some of them were affected by the shooting in Connecticut. I know every time I hear a news article on TV about the shootings, I cry. This makes me think I have come in contact with someone who is grieving this very day. I hope and pray I am wrong but I don’t believe I am.

I have lost loved ones myself. My mother, at a very young age, my father later in life and my sister. My entire family has passed on. The hardest death I had to deal with was my sister’s. It is only until recently I have come to terms with her passing. She has been gone now for six years. There is no magick pill you can take and make your pain and grief go away. It takes time and in some cases, years. My mother, I have never got over her death. At this stage in life, I don’t believe I ever will. I have a dear, dear loved one that pass on and I blame myself for his death. Now that is a heavy burden to live with. It was because the feelings he had for me that caused his death. I know this and there are days when it is very hard to go on. All of these emotions are normal. You blame yourself, you have guilt, what could you have done, you should have been there. So many questions run through your mind. But you can’t come up with the answers.

Death, unfortunately, is something we will all have to deal with at one time or another. You can never prepare yourself for death. It comes like a stranger in the night, stealing our loved ones away from us. The young, the old, it doesn’t matter, they were our loved ones. It isn’t fair but no one ever said life was fair. We have to deal with the hand we are dealt. Grief is something that hits us like a stone wall. Our worlds are turned upside down. Our hearts are broken. We feel like our world has ended. Where do we go from here?

Times like these are the times we turn to our Faith. You call upon the Goddess. You ask for Her mercy, Her love and most of all Her comfort. The Goddess is the gentle Mother of all of us. She knows us better than anyone. Our Great Mother, will assist you in your grief. Give you aid, when you then you can’t go on. When you think all is lost, She will give you Love. Hers is a Divine Love that you can take comfort in. The Goddess is there waiting for you. All you have to do is just ask for Her help. You can survive this with the help of our Great Mother. Just ask Her.

~Magickal Graphics~

Dancing with the Dead

Dancing with the Dead

by Sylvana SilverWitch

I am dreaming, I am in a dark room, I am afraid – but I move through the doorway anyway. Suddenly I am on a freeway, on the center-line, cars speeding past me on both sides. The wind rushes in my ears, whipping my hair around; I feel dizzy, as if I’m going to fall into the path of the traffic.

I see my lover walking down the middle of the other side of the freeway, his long dark curls flying in the wind. He looks far away, but he’s not really. I scream at him, trying to be heard over the sound of the traffic. I scream and scream for him, but he is careening, on first one foot and then the other, dancing in front of the cars.

He looks so pale and beautiful in the moonlight. Some of the cars pass through him, as if he’s not real. I find I am screaming, “But you are real! I love you! Please come to me! Get out of the traffic! Please!” I hear the screech of tires on pavement, as a car swerves to miss him, and it sounds like a phone is ringing somewhere, far away. Oh shit!

Oh, no, it’s my phone. I strive to wake up, reaching for the telephone. It is one of my friends -why is she calling at this hour? “Honey? Are you awake?” She is quiet, not at all her usual self. I instantly sense that something is wrong.

“What’s wrong?” I ask – I am suddenly fully awake. “What’s wrong!” I have a sinking feeling in my chest; I know that something is terribly wrong, and I start to cry as she says, “I guess you haven’t heard….”

“Heard what!?” I am screaming at her while she is speaking ever so slowly and quietly.

“Heard about Bobby…. He was killed last night.”

The room disappears from around me, everything goes black and I fall away from the reality I have been in. I feel as if I am falling forever, down, down, down. Down into an abyss of pain. I come to some semblance of awareness a moment or two later. The only reason I know it is only a few minutes is because she is still on the phone repeating, “Are you there? Are you there? Are you all right? Hello? Hello!”

I reply, “Yes. I have to go now; I’ll talk to you later.” She argues, “Are you sure?” But I hang up. My dream flashes in my mind; I suddenly realize what it was about, and I apprehend that I am sobbing. I take a Valium and go back to bed and close my eyes, hoping to shut out the reality and the pain.

I dream again, except this time I am with him, I am sitting in my living room talking to Bobby, and he is telling me that he is not really dead. I am so relieved! I hug him and feel him solid and large in my arms. I know he is really alive; it must have been a bad dream.

He says that he is sorry that we won’t be together anymore, but it is and will be okay, and not to cry any more. I am upset, and he comforts me. I ask him how I will know that this is not just a dream, and he says he can tell me what happened and why. He tells me details about his accident, which was a freak one. I know that he is telling me the truth, and I tell him how much I love him and will miss him. He smiles and says he knows, him too. And he fades away. I call out to him to ask him to stay, but I hear him saying he’s got to go and he will talk with me again. Later….

Most of us have had people go from our lives, but the most cruel loss is the death of a family member, friend, lover or even a beloved pet.

When this happens, it can be extremely difficult to let go of the intensity of emotion that we have around it; it “haunts” us, and we are sad and depressed – sometimes for months or years.

It is important, in my opinion, to allow the normal changes to happen in life with as little energy “getting stuck” as is humanly possible, because keeping the energy flowing causes the least pain. If you do your best to first feel and then let go the emotions around the demise of someone close, it helps your healing process and theirs too. You must let them go and let go of any extra energy you may have connecting you to them; by energy, I mean sadness, anger, hurt, resentment, longing. All of these are strong emotions and are “energy” that can keep us connected to the dead. If you attempt to grasp or hold tight to them, it just damages you in the long run. It can be especially tough when you haven’t gotten along with the person for a long time, or when there are big unresolved issues between you.

One way to deal with your emotions when attempting to let go of a loved one, is to do a ceremony to say goodbye. It can be helpful in this process, to contact the dead to communicate whatever you need to express to them and they to you. You can voice whatever and say your last good-byes, while at the same time acknowledging that they are still alive, energetically. Especially if they appear very clearly to you, this has made me feel much better about the passing of my loved ones. Performing the ritual aids in the grieving and healing process, if in no other way than achieving closure.

Connecting with the dead always seems scary at first, but it doesn’t have to be, when you are in the right frame of mind.

Why would you want the spirits of those who have passed on to appear to you? You might have incomplete business with them, for example if a parent dies prior to you working your childhood stuff out with him or her. Maybe you have a question that can’t be answered by any living person, or maybe you wish to honor the dead, as at Samhain. These are all valid reasons. Just for the fun of it is not a good reason!

You might want to be cautious and have respect for the departed, as they do have some power over the earthly beings that have put energy into them. If nothing else, they can communicate with you on the astral plane and make your sleep difficult. If you were to screw around with them or convene the wrong ones, there’s no knowing what might happen. There are all kinds of dead, just as there all kinds of living people – some good, some not so good. Use discretion when doing these workings.

I have chiefly communicated with the departed because someone else requested it of me, but at times they have turned up and talked to me on their own, just because they can I guess. When I work for someone else summoning dead kin, it’s always interesting. I usually try to get the departed to tell me something really obscure about the person doing the seeking, so that they will know it’s “for real.” It is something that a lot of people get spooked about.

I have, in years past, done psychic work with law enforcement agencies to help locate missing people. Usually they had several of us psychics working on the same job, they wanted to check out our information for accuracy, I guess.

I went and sat down at the table in the office I was told I would work in. I felt a feeling of dread, like I didn’t want to be there, or like something bad was about to happen. A detective came in and informed me they would be taping the session; I agreed that it was a good idea. He set up the recording equipment and brought out a manila envelope. He said, “This is a missing person; we’d like to have an idea where to look for her, and any other important facts you can tell us.”

With that, he showed me a picture of a young dark-haired girl, maybe 11 or 12. I immediately got what I call a “charge” from the picture, and I told him I’d do my best.

He sat across the table and passed me the remainder of the contents of the envelope. There were various personal effects in it, including a report card, a drawing, a bracelet, a hair brush with hair and a number of pictures.

I immediately knew that the girl was dead, even though the policeman didn’t say so. I also knew that she had been abducted by a stranger, not a person known to her. I knew this because of the terror that I felt from her energy. I closed my eyes and I saw trees all around me, big tall trees. I was very cold, and wet, and alone. I was scared, but happy to make contact finally. (In this process, I often feel as if I am the person I am connecting with.)

I opened my eyes and told the policeman, “She’s dead.”

He jumped. “Are you sure? That was kinda quick, wasn’t it?”

I replied, “No. When I make a good connection, it often happens like this. But it is really strong right now, and I want to get details, so I will talk with my eyes closed and tell you what I see, okay?”

“Uh, okay.” He was unsure about me but didn’t know what to do except agree.

I went on, telling him about the trees and the ravine, and the water and the car. Then as I was describing the scene of the abduction and the man who was the perpetrator, the girl’s energy just started weirding out, and she started calling for her mother.

I realized she didn’t know she was dead. Oh no, this is not good, I thought. She thinks she’s still alive, and I’m helping to rescue her. I tried telepathically to explain to her what had happened, but apparently she had no context for death where she herself was the subject. Plus she was dazed and confused, not thinking straight. I knew I’d have to do some work on releasing her if I were to continue, but then I would be risking the connection.

I had to do something, so I opened my eyes. The cop jumped visibly this time when I opened my eyes and said, “I have to stop; she doesn’t know she’s dead.”

“What do you means she doesn’t know she’s dead?” He was almost yelling at me, and I had to bite my tongue.

How can you solicit and communicate with your dead? A ritual follows, especially for the summoning, communication and making amends with and letting go of dead loved ones.

First, choose a night that the moon is dark, preferably around Samhain or Imbolc, when the veils between the worlds are the thinnest. Find a place where you can be alone, where you won’t be disturbed. Assemble all of your tools and talismans; a list of things you might need follows this article.

Cast your circle, drawing the circle in the air and visualizing it to be a sphere, taking you outside of the mundane reality of the time and space that we all normally inhabit. Next, conjure the elementals, and-or the directions, whichever you prefer, asking for their aid and protection, and light the candles. Next, invoke the God and Goddess into the circle, lighting their respective candles. You might ask a particular god or goddess who is associated with the dead, like Rhiannon, to attend your circle. You might also like to invoke the aide of the fey, who are the traditional go-betweens connecting the realms of the living and the dead.

Light some incense that is associated with either the dead in general or the person you wish to speak with. For example, if it’s your grandmother who always wore lavender perfume, burn lavender. Put a picture of the person, if you have one, on the altar, or any of her or his possessions or clothing.

State your intention for all to hear and take notice. This is important. Then invoke the person you wish to communicate with. Saying something like: “I invoke you ; please draw near and converse with me; please attend and illuminate this space with your presence. Kindly appear and assist me in my time of need. Please come; please come!

Speak their name aloud several times, then sit down, close your eyes and wait. This is a very interesting part of the rite, because you must listen quietly. Spirits don’t always appear á là Hollywood, in a superficial display of smoke and lightening. It is sometimes more like someone speaking softly to you inside your head, or a feeling of someone being with you. Listen and be open to them appearing to you. Hear what they say; don’t dismiss it as imagination. You can ask them for a sign if you are really skeptical. Say what you will to them, and know that they have heard you.

When you are finished or when they are done talking to you, thank them, tell them how much you love and appreciate them and then…say goodbye and let them go! Know that if you ever really want or need to talk to them, you can and they will hear you.

Lastly, ground your energy through the earth, making sure there is no residual energy from any other beings left in you. Then pull some energy up from the earth, let it bathe your heart in cleansing, healing energy. Dismiss your gods and the elementals and close the circle.

Afterward, take a cleansing bath or eat a small meal in honor of your rite. This is a good time to clean out the departed persons room, give their belongings to a deserving charity, or put their pictures or effects away. Keep some special mementos, but use the energy to really let go of them, you will find it makes you feel much better.

Some people like to use a Ouija board to talk to discarnate beings, I don’t like the Ouija board – I believe anything can come through it, not just the spirit you are specifically invoking. So use it at your discretion. You could also try a seance, in which you gather a number of people around a table and invoke the dead to communicate through one of you. This works best if one person is the designated medium and has experience “channeling” the dead.

However, being a medium for the dead can be quite traumatic, and I don’t recommend doing it unless you have some training. I used to do this with some regularity, and even though I am trained in the psychic arts, it was very hard on me to maintain my own energy throughout.

It is a still and quiet night. The room is dark and hazy-looking to you, even though there is no mist. Everyone is seated around a large, old, round oak table. There are candles flickering in the mist. Everything begins to fade away from sight, everything except the table directly in front of you, a narrow tunnel of reality.

Then you get a chill down your spine. The hair on the back of your necks prickles with electricity. “The spirits have arrived,” says the high priestess. About that time you feel something brush up to you, into you, and then you are above your body and to the side, looking at yourself smiling at everyone.

The high priestess turns to you and addresses you as if she doesn’t know you, “Who comes there?” she asks. “Who is it who joins our circle of love and light?” You see your mouth move and hear words falling from it, but they are not your words. You recognize the energy a moment later as a departed friend of one of your circle-mates. You sigh and relax, and decide to travel around while you are out of your body. Hmmmm – where to go?

I am fully aware that in writing this I might be summoning up the people who have been long gone from my life, and I accept that possibility.

Items for a ritual for the dead

Anything that reminds you of the person

Black altar cloth

Black candles

Black mirror

Crystal ball

Elemental candles

Essential oil

Flowers

Incense

Jewelry

Music

Paper and pen

Personal belongings

Pictures

Red wine

Demeter, Dark Mother of the Harvest

Demeter, Dark Mother of the Harvest

Perhaps the best known of all the harvest mythologies is the story of Demeter and Persephone. Demeter was a goddess of grain and of the harvest in ancient Greece. Her daughter, Persephone, caught the eye of Hades, god of the underworld. When Hades abducted Persephone and took her back to the underworld, Demeter’s grief caused the crops on earth to die and go dormant. By the time she finally recovered her daughter, Persephone had eaten six pomegranate seeds, and so was doomed to spend six months of the year in the underworld. These six months are the time when the earth dies, beginning at the time of the autumn equinox. Each year, Demeter mourns the loss of her daughter for six months. At Ostara, the greening of the earth begins once more and life begins anew.

In some interpretations of the story, Persephone is not held in the underworld against her will. Instead, she chooses to stay there for six months each year so that she can bring a little bit of brightness and light to the souls doomed to spend eternity with Hades.

Healing from Grief and Loss

Healing from Grief and Loss

by Delia Quigley

“If you do not bring forward what is within you, what is within you will  destroy you. But if you bring forward what is within you, what is within you  will heal and save you.” The Gospel of Thomas

We want the security of knowing that life will hold the pattern we create,  the niche we carve out for ourselves in whatever space we can claim as our own.  When we lose what we love, our pattern is changed forever, and we descend into  grief. This time of grieving invites us to be still, to sit quietly and allow  the process to unfold. We might think that some kind of action needs to take  place, some moving on from the sadness; in fact, it is in giving time to your  grief that it becomes a transformative experience.

When a close friend died of cancer, many people in my circle of friends were  devastated by the loss. I remember waking up the morning after he died knowing  that my world had changed forever, and I right along with it. I found myself  looking at each moment as if he would appear again in my field of vision. I felt  so weighed down with sorrow that there was nothing to do but sit in emptiness.  Even knowing his illness was terminal, those of us around him refused to  acknowledge that he was dying. Later, when we looked at pictures, taken days  before his passing, we were shocked at what was so evident. The man was dying,  and we couldn’t let him go.

When we lose someone or something we love, we are faced with the space that  person held and we fill it with grief and longing. Grieving is the emotional  healing our mind needs to recover from loss. If we are unable to grieve our  losses, we have difficulty moving on. We forfeit some of our emotional  flexibility. Our psyches develop hard spots, which may manifest themselves in  habitual anger, irritability, anxiety, depression, or addiction.

Taking my grief to the meditation cushion, I sat and watched my breath,  cried, sobbed, blew my nose, and watched my breath some more. There were  mornings I couldn’t sit still and was overcome by sadness again, and so I would  do my yoga, moving slowly from one posture to another. Gradually, what I called  the “grief balloon” began to deflate, and this incredible feeling of love was  there to fill the space. My attachment to my friend’s death had dissolved, and I  was filled with the purity of unconditional love that had formed the basis of  our relationship.

Meditation teacher Joseph Goldstein, and author of The Experience of  Insight, writes that love that comes from wisdom is an “unconditional,  universal loving kindness—a feeling of friendliness and warmth for all beings  everywhere.” All that you can do to shed your grief and replace it with love is  to be patient, do the practice, and meditate. That’s all that’s required.

 

What Not to Say to Someone Grieving

What Not to Say to Someone Grieving

by Molly, selected from DivineCaroline

If you have had the experience of losing a loved one in your  lifetime, you  understand that the mourning process can be so agonizing  and prolonged that it  feels as if it will never end. Sometimes it’s so  excruciating, in fact, that  even when we aren’t grieving firsthand and  are simply trying to help a person we know heal following the death of someone  important to him or her, we panic,  unsure of what words of reassurance can  possibly suffice in the face of  such monumental loss and emotional trauma.

According to bereavement expert Camille Wortman, PhD, blogging for the PBS  series This Emotional Life,our  personal discomfort  surrounding death and tragedy, whether conscious or  unconscious, often rears  its head when we try to reach out to grieving people,  even if we have the best of intentions.  She notes, “We are not sure  what to say and we do not want to make [the person]  feel even worse.  Conversing with a grieving person can evoke feelings of  helplessness  because objectively, there is little we can say or do to help.  Such  interactions may also enhance feelings of vulnerability, because they   make us realize that bad things can happen at any time.”

In addition, Wortman points out, as we sense our own stress levels increasing while we try to soothe someone who  is suffering, we freeze  up and tend to default to a one-size-fits-all approach,  making “remarks  that are part of our cultural understanding of how to help  others.” Yet  such statements are risky at best and downright damaging at worst.  When  attempting to console a bereaved person, you’d be wise to avoid the   following types of behaviors.

Offering Platitudes “Time heals all wounds.” “You  have so much to be thankful for.” “It wasn’t meant to be.” “This is  simply nature’s way of dealing with a problem.” “Everything happens for a  reason.”

Minimizing the Problem “It was only a baby you didn’t  know; you can always have other children.” “She was seventy-five, so she  lived a nice long life.” “It’s over now. There’s nothing to do but move  on.” “Others are worse off than you.”

Giving Unsolicited Advice “You should seriously consider  getting a dog to keep you company now that your husband is gone.” “It’s not  healthy for you to be visiting your mother’s grave every day.” “The best way  for you to get over your wife’s death is to start dating new people as soon as  possible.”

Grasping at Straws in an Attempt to Relate “I know how  you feel about your son’s passing. My husband and I got divorced last year, and  I’ve had a very hard time with it.” “I’m sorry to hear about your wife’s  untimely death. I  understand what you’re going through, because I had to put my  dog to  sleep recently.” “I know how hard it must have been to lose your  five-year-old. I experienced a similar tragedy when I had an abortion.”

Putting a Religious Spin on the Situation “God has a  plan.” “God doesn’t give you any more than you can handle.” “God needed  your father more than you did.” “She’s a flower in God’s garden now.” “Heaven needed another angel.”

Expressing Intolerance for the Length of the Grieving  Process “Think positive.” “You must be strong.” “Keep a  stiff upper lip.” “Pull yourself together.” “Get back on the horse.”

These verbal red flags might make you feel as if trying to  console someone  who’s lost a loved one is akin to stepping into a  minefield, but bear in mind  that saying nothing at all is still more  harmful. Treat this as an opportunity  to practice mindful  compassion—instead of blurting out clichés, make  sympathetic and  selfless comments, such as:

“I’m so sorry to hear about your loss.” “I can’t imagine what you are  going through.” “I don’t know exactly what to say, but I know I can  listen.” “Would you like to sit down and tell me how you’re really  feeling?”

Above all, don’t forget to ask what you can do to help. Whether  that means  sitting quietly with a grieving friend while she cries,  asking people to  prepare food for her for a few weeks, or researching  support groups for her to  attend, know that you do have the power to  provide genuine comfort.