Have you experienced the presence of a loved one? What keeps us so connected to the ones we love?

My relationship is never ending, even when breath ends. There are still things that need to be said, felt and shared. I have needed closure. I have needed continuation. But above all I have needed connection.

Benjamin Crazy cultureOur society not only has the mentality of “moving on” from grief, but it is also not very supportive of connection between planes of existence. Our compartmentalized culture has separated loss and life lived with those who have died. The message is, “They are gone. Let’s move on.” But nothing is “gone.”

I was speaking to a Native American woman the other day about grief. She has traveled her road of sorrow and has found peace and purpose in the sharing of her cultural wisdom. She spoke of how spirits are all around us. There is no separation in her world.

In cultures of the East this continuation of connection is also prevalent. Yet, in our culture of the ones we love who have died are “gone.”

My relationships with Lydia, Matt and Bryan did not end in death. They changed, but I am to this day in relationship with them.

When Lydia was about to die we spoke often of Matt’s care. We co-parented when she was alive and there was not a decision I made concerning Matt’s care that did not include her after her death.

Lydia and I also spoke of the moment Matt would die. We talked about how I would be on this side and she would be waiting on the other. In the experience of Matt’s last breath I truly believe Lydia was present. It was the most horrendous experience of my life to witness the final breath of my child, but it was a seamless transition of a child being passed from father to mother.

I have experienced the presence of Matt on many occasions. The interesting thing is that it is not Matt at the age of thirteen. Our relationship did not become frozen in either time or space. When I experience Matt now it is a sense of connecting to an ancient soul full of wisdom and compassion. Matt has grown beyond his body and I have grown with him.

There is a rich texture to our timelessness. We meet in places invisible to the naked eye – coffee shops, long walks, edges of oceans, and one of my favorites, by candlelight. It’s more than a thought or a memory. I have those, too. But there is a different quality to our connection in our timelessness and a different exchange takes place.

I don’t care if this culture thinks I’m crazy. I’m pretty sure the culture we live in is crazier than I am. I don’t care if someone says, “Poor guy, he just can’t let go and move on.”

I have gone on with my life and have had a wonderful life. I have let go of the emaciated body of my child whose ashes I spread a long time ago. The Matt I share moments with now is no longer my child. He is more than that to me. And he is forever part of me as I am forever part of him.

Benjamin Connection with life and deathBryan had the deepest eyes and the depth of spirit far beyond Lydia, Matt or I. As I rocked Bryan in his pain I felt his holding me in mine. After Bryan died I felt his presence. Lydia did as well. I held his body as it grew cold and felt the warmth of his spirit clothe me. A peace entered this sorrowful space. Actually, I entered a sorrow space of peace. My connection with life and death, body and spirit, love and loss was forever changed in that moment holding the empty body of my child.

The last days of my mother’s life equaled the long journey into the light of night experienced by Lydia, Matt and Bryan. She was in and out of consciousness just as they were. She was emptying the body filling spirit, just as they were. She was entering and exiting the Infinite, just as they did.

One day I was sitting next to her when she looked off into the distance. She said in a rather chipper voice, “Hi Luke.” Luke was Lydia’s father. He died six months before Lydia. My mother happily continued, “Where are Lydia and Matt?” She listened for a second or two and said, “That makes sense.”

I wish I had heard Luke’s reply, but in reality, it wasn’t necessary. I know where Lydia and Matt are. I feel them just as I feel Bryan. They enter and exit me. They sit beside my sorrow. They tenderly touch the part of me that no longer fits here and the other part that keeps me here. In my darkest moments they are the ones holding the candle up against my broken heart to reflect their presence, peace and love.

I know the touch of spirit. I even know the different textures of that touch. I do not need to whisper their names or hide their presence in a culture that says “Move on. They are gone.”

I know what I know. I feel what I feel. Their bodies are the only things that are gone. I find healing precious memories, but I equally find healing in their precious presence. I don’t care what anybody says. I am with them and they are with me.

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