Losing a Loved One

Question: My question is around preparing loved ones for the passing of my mother. The roller coaster of cancer is taking its toll. I desperately need guidance on how to talk to my teenage daughters and other family members about letting go. I believe that life does go on when one leaves this world but I see and feel the pain that my family is experiencing. Even for myself, it is difficult to let her chose to leave.

I am also being faced with a more difficult task and that is to respect her choice to be cremated. I have blinders on and am struggling to visualize the participation of this event. Any insights or guidance that you can share would be greatly appreciated. I have searched for the answers within and my heart and soul will not let allow them to come through.

I thank you in advance for your time.

Alana's Answer: Hello, dear one. Alana is so delighted to hear from you. It is wonderful that you have been enjoying Alana's answers for such a long time.

After reading your question, Alana would like to respond on a few different topics. First let's begin with the different members of your family and how they may process the transition of your mother in their own way.

One of the gifts you can extend to your family members is helping them explore their feelings and beliefs. To do this you can be present while asking them questions, such as:

  • How are you feeling?
  • What is difficult for you?
  • Where do you feel mother may go once she leaves her body?

In other words, explore with your loved ones what is happening with your mother by discussing the subject in a very open and loving way. As you listen to their answers in a nonjudgmental way, you will help them identify their deepest thoughts, feelings, and perceptions. This is a wonderful way to help nurture and support them. Your dialogue will help them prepare for the experience of your mother passing over.

Dear one, the type of support is one of the best ways to assist by asking questions that help to them draw out their beliefs and their incompletions. Perhaps this will also help them identify the things they might also want to engage and share with their grandma. It will also help them release fear, pain, grief, anger, and sorrow.

Now let's discuss what the family and friends who remain in the physical may experience when a person they love moves to the other side. When someone we love passes, there is a certain void that takes place in one's nature. It is a kind of emptiness that occurs. This emptiness can create quite a bit of discomfort and saddness, especially when a person has not had the opportunity to complete their communications; to say the things that they feel and come to terms with their beliefs about the death of the body.

When we have issues such as these, this empty space, this void, can be much more grief-filled and grounded in sadness, separation, and loss. When there are completions and deeper levels of connection, along with an awareness of spirit, this void can actually become the space for creativity. It can create a space in one's nature that can feel a lot like the conceptual phase in creativity. The void can become a space that allows energy to "simmer." This space can eventually transform into a life-force-like energy, which can perpetuate great amounts of growth, a creative dynamic in one's human process.

When a loved one departs, often the void that is created becomes a depository of many different gifts. After a period of gestation, these gifts actualize into great awareness, creative movement, and a lot of felt-sense love. When individuals have not taken a look at their views on death and dying, and transformation and loss, and perhaps have not had opportunity to create types of completions, then this void experience can translate into a deep longing. It becomes an opportunity for an individual to delve deeper into their soul and discover in-depth what their soul really is.

Both experiences of the void can definitely be full and rich, and serve the individual. The latter (separation and incompletion) is more difficult and definitely has a deeper sense of pain. The fore (connection and completion) is still painful to the physical part of us that grieves, but the pain is blended with knowingness and deeper connection to one's heart.

When you talk with your family members, nurture them along to have their conversations with their grandmother and talk about the things they have on their minds. Help them open up their hearts and to also discover some of their beliefs around this transitional time.

I also want to add that we are so much more than our bodies. Our soul, spirit, and our heart expression continues to go on after death. This is because it always was and always will be eternal. The only aspect of our nature that we shed is our perception of the physical body and the objectives of our physical body while it is alive. We take with us our stored memory. We take with us our thoughts, our love, and our connectedness to those for whom we care. May this awareness comfort all of your family as you support your dear mother in her transition.

Now I will answer your question about cremation. I know that this whole subject matter about the "shell" (body) that is left here on earth when a loved one departs, is a matter that is very hard to deal with for some people. The body is a reminder that your loved one is no longer with you in physical expression; that you cannot touch and feel their physical presence.

On another level, it is a reminder that your loved one is still connected with you, for their spirit is still alive. However, part of the difficulty with cremation for some people is that it seems like such finality. A person can feel as if there is nothing left to hold on to in the physical that is a representation of that person's physical life. There are also some who have religious beliefs that do not align with cremation.

I want to impress upon you to open your eyes and look around. You will see your mother is still present, and will always be present, for your mother is not just her body--she is so much more. Your mother is all the memories you have in your heart. She is all the manifestations that she has left behind. When you look at the garden, and perhaps the things she has planted, you are connecting with her presence. When you look at the way you have grown to be who you are, or when you look at your family and see extensions of her, you are reminded that she lives on. Even if the body is cremated, it is really just a way to release and allow the shell to transform back into the elements of nature in a very free and natural way.

When you consider the choices between cremation and burial, the different forms of transformation in this way are rooted in different belief systems. Some people have religious preferences. They may believe that when they place someone in the ground that may help them to resurrect. Yet there are other spiritual preferences that believe in cremation, for they see this approach as a way to release their departed loved ones to the heavens. Through the ashes they depart, and this process allows the spirit to soar.

What Alana wishes to express is that there are many beliefs regarding how to dispose of the shell. No matter how the body or shell is prepared, their spirit is already soaring. The departed one does not need to view their loved one's at a gravesite to connect to them. They do not need a physical space to find their way back here to visit.

Allowing the body to release is more about the living than it is about the departed. My sense is that part of the thoughts and feelings you are having about cremation may be more about releasing the finality of what is before you as your mother chooses to leave this world. Just know that cremation will not limit her soul in anyway.

Hopefully this answer has helped you to understand the process of a loved one's departure from the physical world, so you can come to a peaceful place in understanding your mother's wishes.

Thank you, dear one, for this meaningful question.