What’s inside this book
My grief journey has no one destination. I
will not “get over it.” The understanding
that I don’t have to be done is liberating. I
will mourn this death for the rest of my life.
–Alan Wolfelt, The Wilderness of Grief, 2010: 92.
This book describes my healing journey and the healing model that emerged from it. First, it tells the love story of Wendy and Karl, who partnered at midlife. Then it introduces a gentle, heartwarming and heart-healing daily ritual designed to connect us with our loved one who has died. Our healing model is in the third part of this book. I explain that guidance flowing from our new connection (with our loved one who has died) can guide our passage through four Gateways of Wisdom, offering us opportunities for addressing issues of Acceptance, Gratitude, Forgiveness, and Engagement, as we enter each new territory.
While this does not need to be a fixed or systematic ritual, its structure is designed to provide support and comfort. Approaching some Gateways will probably be more challenging than others, depending on our circumstances. I expect, for example, that the Gratitude Gateway could be a hard one to confront and pass through. Always, the voice of our loved one, reaching back across the divide, can provide guidance that none other can match.
The book is in two parts. Book 1, Baptism: Life with Karl (beginning with Post 16a) describes our meeting, our marriage, relationship and the remarkable circumstances of Karl’s life and death. Chapter 1, “Losing Karl” (Posts 18 to 20), tells the story of the car crash that claimed his life and nearly killed me, as well as my first contact with him after his death. It recounts “My Life with Karl” in Chapter 2 (Posts 21 to 36), followed by Chapter 3, “My Seasons of Loss,” chronicling my first 15 months following his death (Posts 37 to 43).
That chapter describes the many challenges I encountered (including being flooded out of temporary accommodation, resulting in a violent PTS attack), as I navigated the first year and a half of my mourning journey.
Book 2, I Do Have This: Healing Grief through Staying Connected has eight chapters (Posts 44a to 160). In Chapter 4 (Post 47b), I introduce the authoritative perspectives of Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925), who argued that it was possible to reconnect with people who had died — and have meaningful relationships with them. Steiner was an eccentric, clairvoyant, Austrian genius, whose research and writing have influenced dozens of disciplines today, from education to art, philosophy, literature, agriculture, and more. He also founded Anthroposophy, a spiritual movement.
Staying Connected: How to Continue Your Relationships with Those Who Have Died (1999) is a collection of Steiner’s meditations and lectures about staying connected with people who had died.
In Post 47b, I outline the specific components of Steiner’s theories that support my approach to staying connected.
As I began exploring Steiner’s approaches, I was concerned that what I was doing (by staying connected with Karl) might be harmful or pathological. I didn’t want to persist with something crazy. So I delved into the psychological research on bereavement.
I report the results of my investigations in Chapter 5 (Posts 48 to 51). Reading that material was a revelation, and it reassured me that I was on the right track, psychologically speaking, in staying connected with Karl.
Conversations between two lovers
The conversations in this part of this book flesh out the bones of the healing model that emerged as I communicated with Karl, recording our morning conversations in my journal for twenty months. Chapter 6 offers clear guidance for reconnecting with someone who has died (Posts 52 to 67).
It also introduces four chapters (Chapters 7 through 10) (Posts 68 to 156) that tell a story about the Gateways of Wisdom we may find along our healing path: Acceptance, Gratitude, Forgiveness, and Engagement.
Each of those chapters begins with a short description of the qualities of that Gateway, followed by the insights I gleaned from our conversations on that topic, quoting our actual words.
Here you hear Karl speaking directly from beyond the grave. Thought-provoking questions for a Reflective Pause guide the reader at the conclusion of Chapters 7 through 10 (Posts 68 to 156).
Chapter 11, the concluding chapter, “Letting Go of My Old Life,” summarizes Karl’s guidance about staying in touch with our natural, intuitive wisdom. It also explains why and how I broke off my structured communication with Karl, how cutting the cords that bound us released both of us, and how I continue to live with him in my heart (Posts 157 to 159).
The Epilogue (Post 161) is a postscript, bringing the reader up-to-date with my injury compensation battle, my successful campaign for the repair of the road where Karl died, the magical 2018 event, Bless this Road, that was the culmination of that activism (Posts 146 to 151), and my dreams for my future as a woman, a lover, an activist, and a writer.
Staying connected with one who has died is possible
This book explores the notion that staying connected with one who has died is feasible — even easy — and does not requires specialized training or skills. Further, it’s psychologically sound to remain connected; there are many benefits for healing grief. Connection with a loved one after death enables us (at a psychological level) to see a situation from another (completely different) point of view. It can be a solace, a balm, and a huge comfort. And in close (soulmate) relationships, this form of connection allows the wisdom that infused the previous relationship to continue, giving both a sense of confidence and continuity.
When I express these intentions about my grieving – and this book – to Karl in February 2017, I exclaim:
I want to be proud, noble in my grief, and standing firm in my new identity.
I want the world to witness how a woman who loses a ‘Big Love’ can navigate such a huge loss and emerge with an open heart that still knows how to love.