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Twenty-Two Months


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Dear friends,

When Jane died from NET cancer 22 months ago today we both expected my time of mourning would be short. While we do not believe, as Christians do, in an eternal, joyful heaven, the experience of our lives had taught us death was as much beginning as ending. We have worked together before in this world--and will again. Her work was done for this go-round. Mine was not.

In the month before she went into the hospital for the heart operation we believed would open the door to further treatment and an eventual cure, we talked a lot about the future and what we hoped it would be.There were things we wanted to do together, places we wanted to visit together, books we wanted to write together. NET cancer would delay those things but not end them.

And if that were not to be--if NET cancer did kill her--then I would move quickly through the stages of grief, secure in the knowledge of who and what we are. Her soul would rest for a time, consolidate and share what it had learned, look closely at the pattern of existence and determine what was next to be done and what form she would need to do that. We both believe in the gradual perfection of the human soul over lifetimes--that every soul has in it a Christ-nature or a Buddha nature that is nurtured across time--that each of us has the potential to be who and what they were, but suited to the time of our own enlightenment.

Our bodies are no more special than a car--a means for traveling in this world. When a car wears out--and any mechanical device will--we discard it and get a new one suited to what we need it or want it to do. I will admit I feel a little sad when I trade in my old car but that sadness has no staying power. When I give up this body I expect I will feel the same way. I know that is how Jane felt about hers--at least that is what she told me--both before and after she got sick.

But I have learned a hard lesson since Jane's death. While we can view our own bodies as mere vessels, it is much harder to view the body of the person we love that way. When the soul that animates the vessel departs we are left with the memory not of the soul but of what the body that soul animated did, the role it played in our lives, and the role it played in the lives of others. Our mortal lives, being wedded to the physical world, cannot experience the soul of another except through that other's body and its actions. As a result, for as long as we live in the physical world, our memories of another soul are inextricably bound up with our memories of that other's body.

For husband and wife, then, whose lives together are as much about touch and warmth as about words, actions, and ideas--who have become as one flesh both physically and spiritually--the loss of a body is shattering--whether from NET cancer or any of the other deaths that flesh is heir to. I have said to people since Jane's death that it is as though half of me were amputated when she stopped breathing. But that is a pale analogy that masquerades as truth. The reality is beyond what words can describe--as those here well know.

An amputee misses that limb for the rest of his or her life. Even the best prosthetics are no match for the original item. But there are no prosthetics for this kind of amputation.

It would be easy, given that knowledge, to give up--and some do. Some commit suicide. Others climb into a bottle, a joint, or a syringe. Still others work themselves into a stupor--bury themselves so deeply in one form of work or another that they do not have time or energy to feel anything.

I am guilty, sometimes, of the last of these. Yesterday I lost myself in writing and researching and trying to understand the lives of others. Today, writing this, it has slowly come back to me that the way out of death and mourning is to live.

I spent the weekend building and staining bookshelves. For the first time since Jane's death I was truly living focussed in the moment again. That same feeling has permeated my writing this morning.

I will continue to mourn the death of Jane's body. But I need to remember to celebrate her life and the continuing journey of her spirit--as well as the continuing journey of my own.

Peace,

Harry

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Harry,

I find myself looking forward to your posts...and I almost wish I could have met Jane. I say "almost" because IF I had, then I would just have another loss in my life...sounds so selfish.

I know my husband Michael and I would have had some kind of connection with you and Jane, as a couple.

You do indeed provide much wisdom in all of your posts, words I am fully able to connect with, and have some understanding of. It often feels like Michael leads me to your posts in very appropriate times, like, "Here Sweetheart, you are aching so much, I found a little something again to help shore you up for a bit."

Towards the end of August of this year I attended a four-day retreat "Transforming Deep Loss" at the Mandala Center near Raton, New Mexico with Cheryl Eckl. This experience was life changing of course, in spite of my anticipated resistance, and now I am so ever grateful for it. Your wise philosophical posts follow, or are in tune to Cheryl's assertions of 'life moving on' as we all have begun to learn how the stream or river or whatever, will continue to carry us in the direction we are meant to go, and our resistance only wears us out...or something like that.

I just want you to know how meaningful and helpful your posts are, and I thank you for that.

Marge Rose

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Harry,

Your post today touched me. What you have said is so true. It is the inner person that we connect with, but it is the physical that so often conveys that inner person through touch, voice, actions, sight, even smell. We love all aspects of our loved one, and each part of them is missed, even the physical presence...while our memory still speaks to us of them, we yearn for them in all forms.

Yes, we do have to find ourselves in our living...that is the challenge. But I do so each time I take a walk with Arlie, or clean my house, or do a favor for a friend. With each sunset I view, each meal that I cook, each conversation that I have, I am living. Not as before, not with George, but as myself. In case anyone laments that I go on alone, it is not entirely so...for I carry him with me, his strength inside of me. As I decorate the house for a new season, be it Fall or Christmas, it is him I am remembering, and his incredible zest for life...I continue not only for myself, but for him.

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Harry, you did it again....you gave me food for thought and you verbalized so many of my own feelings. Like you and Jane, I believe Bill was done here and I have work to do. I do not know where I am on reincarnation but I do know we go on somehow and we keep growing...here or there. I do believe at some point we are done here...for good. Yes, missing the soul that animated Bill's body is the tough part. Remembering the good days and the joy we shared is sometimes difficult on pain filled days but gets easier as days pass. The analogy of the amputation is very real. There is no prosthetic that can even come close to assisting us in our loss. The "part" of us that is gone leaves behind an emptiness/hole I have never before experienced. The photos, the cassette of a workshop Bill led, the items that are everywhere in this house serve as reminders of one incredible human being who chose to love me and spend his life with me. How graced I was.

Peace

Mary

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Dear Harry,

You know I am a Christian, so I will not even talk about my Faith. Just LOVE. That one of a kind True Love, that so many people chase day after day, and never seem to find it. I found it with Pauline, You found it with Jane. They were our Best friends, that we could talk about anything and everything with.

They were our Soul Mates, no one else could ever replace the very deep connection we had with them. Our Spirits and Souls became intertwined as on. We would know what the other one was going to say before the words were even spoken. I could be Hundreds of miles from Pauline. I would know when she was needed help at home, or that she would call. Then my phone would ring, I would answer " HI BABE " . That is something real. It does not end after they pass. I agree. Grief is hard, as you said some go from one extreme to another. The balance is in the middle somewhere.

I long to hold Pauline in my arms again, but I know that will not happen now. I still feel her with me though, in my heart, mind, spirit, and soul.

I am sure Pauline is smiling down at what I have achieved in my life after her passing, and I still, continue to move forwards on the path that I was chosen for so many years ago. To give care to those in need.

I wish You Peace and Comfort, my Dear Friend,

God Bless,

Dwayne

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My beliefs are that we are spiritual beings temporarily in human bodies and we will go through this school of life many times to learn all there is to learn, and then move on. And that we are never truly separated from one another and share many lifetimes with those who are close to us.

A friend with the same beliefs wrote something about grieving that I found helpful, though: He said that grieving is the process of changing your relationship with the person who has died. You have been relating as a soul/body to another soul/body. Now, you will be relating as a soul/body to a soul only. That is a huge shift from the human perspective, and our human minds and bodies grieve the change. I also experience many ADCs from those who have died, and I am grateful for those, but I have found that it doesn't mean that I can circumvent grief.

For 8 years since my ex-husband's death, and 6 years since my father's death, I have had hundreds of signs and dreams from them, and from grandparents and uncles and friends who have died. Even so, my brother's death in a car accident 7 weeks ago was a traumatic shock, and I cry wildly every day, even though I have already had messages from his spirit. The loss of the physical presence is something our physical selves need to grieve. But it sure hurts a lot! I know intellectually that it will soften over time, as it has before, but I must admit that when the pain is new and raw (that is, the first year or two!) it's hard to really believe that it will ever get better.

We just have to hang in there, and live as they would want us to live. I know their spirits walk beside us.

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Well I don't think I get messages, but I do feel George's existence within me, if that makes any sense. His love is eternal, and it is inspiring to me in the present, so in that sense, he is still here with me. I wish more than anything in the world I could tell him how much he affected me and my life, how much he means to me...how I miss him!

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Dear friends,

I was not trying to ignite anything religious here. The beliefs I talked about were only in the interest of giving what I was saying the right background. I've been trying for months to come to terms with the huge difference between the way Jane and I thought grief was going to work with me and the way it actually does. This is the best answer I have evolved so far. If it helps you, I am glad. But if you found any of this offensive to your beliefs, my apologies. I am not interested in converting people--only in finding my way through this undiscovered country.

I'm glad what I write is useful to people in finding their way through this stuff. I would write more often but Walking with Jane is a full-time occupation lately. Who knew this would be so complicated.

Peace,

Harry

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Harry,

I recently read how the loss of our spouse is like an amputation. I share in your complex grief process. I believe our spouses make us whole and now we are only a fraction of what we use to be. I spent almost all my life in control of knowing who I was and if I was uncertain in the last 17 years, Celene helped me find myself. My life seemed so grounded and now it is so uncertain. Too many of my actions lately are questioned or doubted by myself. I do not know why I am unable to just go back to the me before Celene entered my life. I do realize that changes happened as a result of Celene, and those will remain. I just don't understand the struggle to grasp who I am now.

Anthony

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I didn't take it as anything religious...when I spoke of eternal love, I was speaking of mine and George's.

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I think you are just being sensitive to others needs and feelings...a nice trait.

Peace, Mary

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