Death, loss, and grief are big parts of the human existence. They are not easy to go through but are neccessary.
I have not experienced much loss in my own life, which is both a blessing and a curse.
A blessing because it has saved me from the sadness that comes from it.
A curse because I’ve never really learned how to process it.
The losses I’ve faced up until recently have been a close family friend that had been sick for many years, a nephew who never got to experience life outside the womb, and beloved pets that I spent much of my time with.
While each of those were hard in their own way, they were also easier to handle than what many people experience.
Just over a week ago the father of one of my childhood best friends passed away very unexpectedly. I spent a lot of time with this family during some of my most formative years and their home always felt so warm and welcoming. They are a very close knit family, the father especially showing so much love, pride, and joy as often as he could.
Having known this family, and seeing parallels to my own, This loss has hit me hard.
I sat down to think about why I was so strongly affected. There were the obvious reasons, like my connection to the family. But there was also something deeper.
I realized this is the first time I am having to process death since I started exploring my spiritual beliefs.
The loss of my family friend and my nephew happened while I was more or less agnostic. No longer Christian but not really exploring anything else. I hadn’t realized the parts of my spirituality that I could explore.
When I started digging into my spiritual beliefs one of the things I found most intimidating was the after life/what happens when we die.
I’ve always had a vague belief in reincarnation, but other than that, I still don’t know what I believe.
And not knowing what you believe happens when a loved one passes is sort of disorienting.
I only got to the point of knowing I no longer believe in the Christian idea of Heaven and Hell. My afterlife beliefs are not defined.
The usual sentiment of “He’s in a better place now” no longer sits right with me. And I’m not sure what does.
So now I’m in a place where I’m not only trying to work through grief, which is not something I’m familiar with, I’m also trying to process what death is.
And I still don’t know.
and I think that’s okay.
Eventually I’ll sort it out, but I’m still not ready for it.
In the mean time, I’m doing what feels best to work through my grief.
I traveled a total of six hours in one day to make it to the memorial service. Between the look on my friend’s face when she saw me and the outpouring of support that was shown at the service, it was worth it.
It was the first memorial I had ever been to.
I also knew I wanted to do something for my witchy side. So I got out a tea candle and carved a mandala-like pattern on it while directing warm and comforting thoughts towards the family. I put a lavender bud on the candle for each family member, the father placed in the middle. It just felt right as a gesture to bring them all some peace.
Part of this was to send some comfort to my friend and her family.
I realized later that most of it was to bring comfort to myself. It was my way of honoring the wonderful man that so many people will miss.
I lit the candle and meditated with it for a few minutes. I had it in my cauldron so that I could bring it around the house with me and let it burn all the way down. Next time I go on a hike I’ll bury what is left of it.
I felt like it was important for me to do something eventhough (and maybe especially because) I don’t know what the after life looks like to me.
Instead of focusing on the unknown, I turned to what I do know, that the world lost a truly incredible, kind hearted person. And I wanted to do something to recognize him and send a little love his way, where ever he may be.
I don’t have any lessons related to this, any tips or resources to give you. I wanted to share my experience and thoughts in hopes that it will help someone else and to let you know that spiritual journeys aren’t always clean cut and well researched.
Sometimes the going gets rough and things get confusing before they start making sense again.