Tag: grief

Tragedy, Collective Soul Loss, and the Healing Story

In shamanic work is the concept of soul loss, or when an aspect of the soul has become distanced (I describe it as “shelved”) and can’t re-engage with the earthly consciousness. Souls are infinite, made up of limitless soul parts that travel in and out of our awareness. This soul traveling is the natural progress of growth, widening our awareness, expanding our consciousness. In times of trauma, when a soul part leaves and can’t return to the earthly consciousness, that’s when problems arise: chronic illness, feelings of depression, lack of motivation, feelings of not being completely present. Such is the path of soul loss in an individual. When considering collective soul loss, these factors plus another comes into play, making mass soul wounding more challenging to heal.

Horrific, heart-wrenching tragedies, such as the killings at Sandy Hook, in Nigeria, China, Portland, Colorado, at Virginia Tech, Columbine, 9/11, cause collective soul loss. Natural disasters such as Katrina, Sandy, the 2004 tsunami, the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, which caused the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan, result in mass soul wounding. As a population watching tragedy from afar, once we can process beyond our instinctive reflex to assess self and realize we are physically unaffected by the disaster, our hearts go out to those who were. We grieve for those lost. We mourn for those who lost loved ones and survived. We devote compassionate support to the affected community, through donations, prayer, providing manpower. We watch through the haze of the media circus, judicial process, and/or legislative attempt to prevent future disasters, seeking release, perhaps even hope, vindication.

Somewhere along that road we begin to realize that we are more affected by the tragedy than we realized, and we feel guilty for that fact. We feel that because our lives were not directly impacted by the disaster, we shouldn’t be disrupted in the daily honoring of life. We shouldn’t be stunted or disconnected from our joy. We shouldn’t feel it as much as we do. We feel selfish for thinking that we need healing, and for turning that heart focus to ourselves, rather than those in the immediate community.

Guilt and ego are the key inhibitors to healing collective soul loss. To devote healing to the whole dynamic, to treat the wound of collective soul loss, we have to include ourselves in honoring what happened, how it left us feeling, and in the healing offered. We must grieve the dead, even if we didn’t know a single one of them. Have compassion for the survivors, and all of the dark days ahead of them as they put their lives back together. Support them and their community in the way that we best can without depleting our own resources. Then repeat that whole process for ourselves.

Animism teaches us that we are all connected in the web of all things. As trauma in our personal lives creates perceived fragmentation of our souls, so collective trauma results in the perceived tear in that web. Only by remembering that we are all connected do we heal. Nothing heals in isolation, but through the combined efforts of us all. We must do what we can to express support for the immediate community, then our healing efforts must turn to our own wounds, knowing that what we heal in ourselves generates healing for others. This is the shamanic narrative. Through the creation of our own healing stories and sharing them, we inspire others to speak their stories. We create a bond focused on collective healing, assuring wellbeing for all.

Take time to reflect on your healing story. Write it down, if it helps, or draw it, paint it. Express all of the feelings wrapped into your experience of the healing process, and know that in doing so, we all heal. We all move closer to wellness.

Originally published on The Huffington Post.

You Don’t Call, You Don’t Write… The Quiet Dead

As psychopomp is a critical role of my personal and professional shamanic path, I’m often approached by those who want me to communicate with deceased loved ones. In some cases a different scenario arises and I’m asked, “Why doesn’t my deceased loved one visit me?”

My immediate response is, “How do know your loved one doesn’t?” There is an assumption that because we are emotionally close to a deceased loved one that we are open to and will recognize a visit from that dear soul. It’s an understandable assumption, as our culture generally sensationalizes and romanticizes interactions with the deceased. In reality, it is often because we are so emotionally involved with the deceased that we don’t or can’t perceive their presence. Sometimes when loved ones are still actively grieving loss, they are too distracted to observe spiritual activity. In their haze, they miss subtle messages that a trained intuitive would intercept, or they are holding out for a grand entrance when a gentle presence is right in front of them. Consequently, sometimes when the deceased sense that their loved ones are not moving on, they do not visit them on purpose. The inability of living or deceased loved ones to accept death causes all involved to stagnate. Often the dead realize that their presence may only encourage the living loved one’s grief instead of soothe it.

Emotional involvement isn’t the only impediment to visitation from beyond the grave. Whether due to fear of the paranormal or the exclusion of such a possibility due to religious path or life view, these can be long-held beliefs that prevent spirit interaction. Often people haven’t really considered the possibility of interacting with a spirit until someone they love dies. Again, in that dynamic lies an assumption that the emotional bond will in and of itself reveal an active connection beyond the veil, and in this case trump institutionalized beliefs. I know it is entirely possible for someone who does not believe in spirits to have a spontaneous change of heart. However, in these cases there is still more than an emotional bond at work. Our consciousness is organized into beliefs and personal truths so that we can make sense of data coming in. At any point that we choose, we can change our beliefs, thus change the organization of our consciousness. In the case of those who prior eschewed spiritual possibilities let alone contact, it’s not likely that their beliefs will spontaneously reorganize to suddenly allow the perception of a visitation from a deceased loved one. If you fear spirits or have rigid beliefs that oppose paranormal life, the likelihood of experiencing such after the death of a loved one is slim. It is possible, though not probable. Naysayers who do experience unexpected spiritual interaction have generally gone through a rampant restructuring of their beliefs.

Another reason that the dead don’t visit is simply because they have no need to. They’re happy. They’re peaceful and they have genuinely grown beyond the concerns of the formed realm. It doesn’t mean they don’t love us or have abandoned us. It doesn’t mean you will never see them again. In fact, most of us repeat experiences of ourselves with the same groups of souls. It just means they’ve moved on to the next point of their destiny.

So what’s the magickal combination? Why do other people have full-on conversations with your deceased loved ones when you don’t seem able to? Remember that people who work with spirits likely demonstrated some innate ability to do so early on in life and/or had a life-changing experience that opened them to their ability, and have dedicated their lives to the skills and boundaries of that work. It’s not random or trivial. They devoted themselves to learning to read the signals and communication of spirits in subtle and profound ways. Moreover, they do so without an emotional charge. They are not emotionally involved with their work, and that enables them to stretch the limits of their ability. To people who interact with spirits doing so no different than interacting with the living. Venturing into the realm of the dead is as common place as walking into a crowded restaurant. In short, it’s not a big deal to them. They will it so, and so it is. Through that accomplishment, it’s always a miracle.

The thing is, there isn’t anything special about people who experience spirits and those who don’t. The only difference between those who do and those who don’t is willingness and the taming of cultural domestication to see life in a fuller, less prescribed way. If you are curious about how to interact with spirits, connect with a trusted professional who can mentor you in doing so. If you’re not but still want to interact with deceased loved ones, find someone who can do so and know that your bond is as intact as ever across the veil and it’s a blessing to have such. Moreover, find etheric ways to deepen your relationship to your loved ones now, and the opening for that greater interaction will always be there.

Karmic Freedom

Kelley, After 10 months of sadness and grief, I am finally able to start cutting ties with an old love. I’m currently not working and I have been working on developing my spirituality and gifts. Please advise what you see for me. Thank you, Shelley.

Thanks for writing, Shelley. Initially, I see you in a very fragile state. It’s very important to focus healing on yourself right now, in the form of affirmations–“The Universe loves me”–“My needs are met.” Upon taking the soul part of you that I see up for healing, my sense is that the relationship you are leaving was karmic. The hurtful dynamic you are leaving is one that you have played out with this person many times. The closure you are finally feeling indicates that you are done with it. You are currently experiencing a freedom that you haven’t in many manifestations of yourself. The other person is not finished; however, this doesn’t need to have bearing on you or your choices. Stand in your free will to realize that you have completed the cycle of karma with this person and do not need to go back. This person, though, is still struggling, and will be quite persuasive in seeking your attention. Do yourself the kindness of not looking back. There is no guilt in this. You’ve done the work. The other person has the opportunity to choose differently but does not. The path ahead is bright for you. It’s also relatively calm. In the next 6 months you will gain building stability and confidence, and the allure of this person won’t seem so attractive.

Still, take the time to heal. This present rawness is very important, very powerful. Allow yourself to feel grounded and well. Walk in Nature often, and allow that connection to reach you. You have a strong affinity to birds and an strata of Nature that is elevated above (literally) what most humans look up to see. So, too, allow your hopes and desires to elevate, as well. Healing is here for you.