Expanded Table of Contents
begin at the beginning of the story (Post 00)
table of contents (posts 1A, 1b, 1c, 2)
Disclaimer (post 3 )
Dedication (post 5 )
Preface (post 6)
welcome to my reader (post 7)
introduction (posts 8 to 17)
The Introduction welcomes the reader and sets the scene for the book: the author’s making sense of the sudden loss of her husband, Karl, in a car crash, which she escapes with minor injuries. She explains her interest in the writings of Rudolf Steiner and the origins of her interest in staying connected with a loved one who has died. She recounts the story of a dear friend, “Ross”, whose death caused her to reach out to him and to be ostracized by his friends and family when she reported that he had communicated with her. She explores three healing options she saw as available after Karl’s death and her reasons for choosing a “spiritual” path of healing her grief and loss.
PART 1: BAPTISM: LIFE WITH KARL(Posts 18-47A)
CHAPTER 1 (POSTS 18 to 21)
“Losing Karl” recounts the dramatic story of the car crash that claimed his life and nearly killed Wendy. It describes how she stayed with him after he drowned, acting on instinct to send healing Earth energy to him and, as it turned out, opening up a communication channel between them. It then describes her experiences, as a shattered survivor in a devastating condition in a small rural hospital following the crash. The book then explains how Karl reached out to Wendy in Brisbane via Angela, a clairvoyant Reiki Master, only four days after his death. In this powerful session, Karl explained his concerns about Wendy’s well-being, and his commitment to care for her and “take care of the money” for the rest of her life. A psychic channel, opened immediately after his death, was now strengthened, allowing messages to pass between the two.
CHAPTER 2 (POSTS 22 to 35)
“My Life with Karl” goes back 23 years, beginning with Wendy advertising for a partner in the “personals” column of a Perth (Western Australia) newspaper, her meeting Karl, the flowering of their mid-life romantic love, their wedding, and their life together. Challenges related to shared unhealed childhood issues and his depression clouded the prospects of this beautiful love surviving, but they persisted and succeeded. Despite being very much a tough, working-class man, Karl had a sentimental, poetic, and intellectual side that balanced his courageous (and often impulsive or reckless) Romani Gypsy aspects. He studied philosophy with distinction at university.
Together they worked and shared many struggles and adventures, eventually as owner builders in an eco-village in a rural hippie community. The Global Financial Crisis saw them lose their beautiful property and once again challenged the resilience of their relationship. Astonishingly, Karl rose above his depression and disappointments to work tirelessly on their property, eventually basking in the love and praise of Wendy and friends. Chapter 4 concludes with Wendy and Karl preparing to drive to a restaurant near a neighboring village for lunch with close friends.
CHAPTER 3 (POSTS 36 to 47A)
“My Seasons of Loss” is a chronological story of Wendy’s life from the moment Karl died until she moved to live permanently to Canada sixteen months later. Because so much of this book is about grieving and PTSD and she had to move several times, Wendy felt it would be helpful to the reader to understand precisely what was happening and where she was living during different periods of her bereavement. Paralleling this story is the story of her compensation case against Karl’s car insurers, a saga that she found both discouraging and infuriating. Her journey, while showing encouraging signs of progress and healing, also involved memorable setbacks, including a devastating flood of her housing in early January 2017, which left her homeless and triggered a massive PTSD attack, resulting in the loss of one of her most cherished, longstanding friendships.
PART 2: I DO HAVE THIS: HEALING GRIEF THROUGH STAYING CONNECTED (POSTS 47B TO 161)
Part 2, I Do Have This: Healing Grief through Staying Connected has eight chapters.
CHAPTER 4 (POST 47B)
“The Secrets of Staying Connected”, introduces the provocative perspectives of Rudolf Steiner, who argued early in the last century that it was possible to reconnect with people who had died — and to continue to have meaningful relationships with them. A collection of Steiner’s meditations and lectures about staying connected with people who had died is found in Staying Connected: How to Continue Your Relationships with Those Who Have Died (1999). Chapter 4 explains the specific components of Steiner’s approach that support Wendy’s approach to “staying connected” and offer specific guidance for developing processes of reconnecting with someone who has died.
CHAPTER 5 (POSTS 48 to 51)
“Is It Wise to Stay Connected to a Departed Loved One?” reviews the research literature on the psychological concept of “Continuing Bonds” (CB), asking whether it is beneficial for a grieving person to maintain contact with a loved one who has died. Reading that research convinced Wendy that the longstanding (and now widely discredited) views of Freud that “breaking bonds” is the purpose of bereavement were no longer regarded as helpful or supported by research evidence. Bereavement could foster continuing bonds, potentially offering comfort and support to the grieving person. Delving into the research reported in Chapter 5, reassured Wendy that she was on the right track, psychologically speaking, in staying connected with Karl.
Conversations between two lovers
CHAPTER 6 (POSTS 52 to 67)
The conversations in this part of the book, beginning with an introduction, Chapter 6, “The Reconciled Self: A Four-Part Model for Staying Close to One You Love”, explore the dimensions of the healing model that emerged as Wendy communicated with Karl. For twenty months, she recorded their morning conversations in her journal. Chapter 6 introduces four chapters that tell a story about the Gateways of Wisdom we can find a we journey along a healing path: Acceptance, Gratitude, Forgiveness, and Engagement (Chapters 7 through 10). (Posts 68 to 156).
Each of the following four chapters begins with a short description of the qualities of that principle or Gateway of Wisdom, followed by the insights Wendy gleaned from their conversations, quoting their actual words. Here, at last, we hear Karl’s exact words and sense the wisdom that he yearns to impart, as well as the dynamic tension between the two partners’ views, mediated by the reality that one of them is alive and the other is dead. Thought-provoking questions for reflection guide the reader after each of these four chapters.
chapter 7 (POSTS 68 to 91)
The “Acceptance” chapter overflows with conversations between Wendy and Karl, inviting the reader to consider that true healing from grief can occur only when the grieving person accepts their harsh reality and the assistance of family, friends, and professionals. In the healing model, passing through the Gateway of Acceptance is seen as the necessary first step on the healing journey.
CHAPTER 8 (POSTS 92 to 112)
The “Gratitude” chapter is the bedrock of the healing model. The findings of many contemporary theorists and researchers in the fields of resilience, flourishing, and bereavement echo the words you hear from Karl in this chapter. Gratitude is good for us. The key to a happy life, it turns out, is being thankful for what you have, however limited or limiting it may seem at the time. With respect to healing grief, gratitude is a well from which we can draw forth forgiveness. The healing model is based on the premise that learning to dwell in a state of gratitude can help us engage with the challenging but necessary work of reframing hurtful acts and deep losses as experiences to be grateful for.
An essential part of this chapter describes Wendy’s attempts (helped by Karl’s support and guidance)to reframe a painful email from an old friend and to be grateful for what seemed a devastating rejection at a time of acute crisis in her life.
CHAPTER 9 (posts 113-129)
The “Forgiveness” chapter frames forgiveness as a moral act, requiring a moral compass. Karl and Wendy argue that it’s difficult to pass through the Gateway of Forgiveness until we’ve exercised both our acceptance and our gratitude muscles. Forgiveness is hard work for the grieving person, and many people sadly become stuck at that Gateway, unable to proceed.
Part of the forgiveness process between Wendy and Karl that she recounts in Chapter 9 involved Karl confronting Wendy with the pain he suffered because she had spoken to him in front of others in harsh, demeaning, bossy, and impatient tones. Wendy apologizes, Karl forgives her, and ultimately, Wendy forgives herself for those insults and cruelties. She promises never to do that again to anyone.
chapter 10 (POSTS 130 to 156)
In “Engagement: The Sacred Work of Sorrow” (Chapter 10), we hear less of Karl’s voice than we heard in Chapters 7, 8 and 9. But here we could easily speculate on Karl’s unique “Giveaway” (his exceptional contribution to this world) and how he would have wanted Wendy to take her sorrow out into the world — into social and political activism. The sacred work of sorrow is the work a grieving person can do to memorialize the one who has died – in their unique way, honoring their unique gifts. Wendy’s unique route turned out to be road safety activism, a completely unfamiliar realm. Her “survivor mission” involved tireless lobbying for repairs to the road where Karl (and three other people) died.
This chapter is the book’s “Call to Action”, arguing that there comes a time when the bereaved person reaches the limits of self-care and needs to go “out and about”, into their wider community, to take action in the name of the loved one who has died. Not everyone will embrace a survivor mission, but for those who do, it has powerful and redemptive healing benefits for self and others.
The chapter also describes the innovative event that Wendy designed, Bless this Road, held in Uki on 30 September 2018. A unique combination of a community education and capacity-strengthening workshop about road safety and a healing ritual for those who had lost loved ones on the Kyogle Road in the village of Uki attracted seventy participants. Among those who attended the day-long event was the Mayor of Tweed Shire Council!
CHAPTER 11 (POSTS 157 TO 160)
The concluding chapter, Letting Go of My Old Life” (Chapter 11), summarizes Karl’s guidance for staying in touch with our natural, intuitive wisdom when we are grieving. It also explains why and how Wendy broke off her structured communication with Karl, how cutting the cords that bound them released both of them, and how she continues to live with him in her heart.
EPILOGUE (POST 161)
The Epilogue is a postscript, bringing the reader up-to-date with the conclusion of Wendy’s insurance compensation battle, the massive repairs to the road where Karl died, and her dreams of becoming a different kind of writer from the “professional” author she was when Karl died.
Appreciations (POST 162)
start at the beginning of the story (Final Post)