I had a vision, shortly after my daughter died, in which I saw her standing on a great plain of Light, through which a Golden Road traveled towards Infinity. She stood solemnly, awaiting a command to move on – with Dakota and me standing like sentinels, one on either side. She said we mustn’t set foot on the road, or we’d have to cross over to the Other Side, but that we could travel with her for a while. Wonderingly, we did so for some time, before she was brought to a place that was guarded by great warrior angels. We were permitted to embrace her in love and farewell, and then a column of transcendent light embraced her from above, and the molecules of her being began to disperse upward, until she had been completely absorbed by The Light.
I don’t know if this vision was true or fanciful… I don’t know if that’s what happens to us after death. But I’ve wondered since, if perhaps, we who grieve are all, in some measure permitted to travel on that final journey with our beloved dead for a period of time. Accompanying them on that road to Eternity in some cosmic bi-location that allows us to remain here in the body, while our spirit goes as far with them as we are permitted… their traveling companions in death, as we were in life. Perhaps that explains the sense of bi-location that I and others have felt so strongly, and the conviction that I could not let go until the moment came when I knew in my gut my child was safely in God’s hands.
The great religions of the world place varying time frames on rites of passage into death. The Tibetan Book of the Dead says it takes 49 days to cross the Bardo… the Gregorian Mass of the Catholic Church offers 30 days of masses for the newly deceased. Whatever your belief system, I’d like to offer this image of us on that road together, to you as a loving metaphor.
We cannot know for certain what road our beloved dead must travel. If death is not momentary, but rather a process that takes days or weeks or months to complete, perhaps our own knowing souls instinctively demand that time of us, to grieve and pray and be the comrades of our loved ones, on their road home to God.
I’ve come to the conclusion that the people who try to beguile you away from grieving, and try to cheer you back into the world of the living as quickly as possible, are wrong. I believe that the magnitude of our grief is the tribute we pay to the person we loved so much. It can’t be short circuited, only witnessed and supported, so that later we can say with absolute certainty that we did our best for the one now gone, not only in life, but in death as well.
Time doesn’t heal all wounds — whoever said that lied, or never grieved. But I’ve come to know that the passage of time does allow you to find a space around the wound, in which to live. It allows you respite to revisit the gifts that are your loved one’s legacy. To reprise the memories that at first may torment you with a sense of desperate longing, but finally, mysteriously, they transmute themselves into simple gratitude that such a soul-friend walked with you a while.
© Cathy Cash Spellman/The Wild Harp & Co. Inc 2011