“Oh, signs, signs, everywhere there’s signs, Blocking up the scenery, breaking my mind.” says the song by Tesla.
Shortly after my Dad died, I was talking to a friend about what happens after we die. Is there an afterlife or are we just worm food was my question? My friend said that he suspected that when we are gone, we are gone…eternal darkness, worm food, a long dirt nap.
I know what my Catholic school upbringing taught, but I started questioning those beliefs and wondering if I really believed them…and if I didn’t believe what I was taught growing up…then what did I believe?. As I started to go down the rabbit hole of my inquiry, I noticed that I became fearful. What if I dove into this and discovered that we really are only worm food. Then what? Would my whole existence be shaken to the core? Would life seem empty, lacking any purpose or meaning? I wasn’t sure I wanted to go down that road…but in my shocked state of grief and not wanting to let go of my Dad…down the rabbit hole I went. Death and grief has one consider and do many things you’ve never may have thought about before.
Many questions arose from this inquiry…Is there life really beyond this one? If so, what does the after life look like? How does reincarnation factor into all of this? ( I believe in this as well…although this not a belief of the Catholic Church). Do our loved one’s hang around us, or are they partying it up somewhere with our other dearly departed loved ones? When my Dad crossed over, was he met by his Mom, Dad, sister and grandson who all passed before him? What does his heaven look like ? (When he was alive we used to talk about this and he said his heaven would look like Pittsburgh, while I would share that my heaven will look like Positano, Italy).
And then…things started happening around the house. The day after we buried my Dad and on Mother’s Day the front door bell of my mom’s house rang early in the morning on a Sunday, just after we woke up. Seems normal right…except that my mom’s front door bell doesn’t work…and when we went to the door, there was no one there. A week after we buried my Dad, the microwave went on the fritz and other strange electrical things happened around the house. Lights would flicker on and off. And then there was the simultaneous connection that my mom, brother and I had that led us to find the owner’s manual to his car…something we had been searching for since his passing. And I kept having dreams about him (and still do).
Sure, the rational mind could pass these things off as coincidence or bad electrical work in my mom’s house, but there were too many things happening in quick succession and in a short window of time or on specific occasions to be explained as such.
I started to explore further…reading books, talking to priests, intuitives, my spiritual teachers, others who have had loved ones die. And researching as much as I could about how the spirit world makes contact with the human world and what happens to our subtle body after we leave our physical one. A lot of what we experienced, from what I’ve learned are ways that the spirit world makes contact. We are all energy after all…we simply change form.
People kept telling me that they could feel my Dad around me…I could not, in those early stages of grief. All I could feel was the loss and the deep hole in my heart that was left as a result of his absence. But as I allowed myself to experience my broken heartedness and sorrow and not resist it; the rawness ripped me open and my vulnerability enabled me to see and feel things I never had before when my defenses were up.
Signs of life…or the afterlife. At the suggestion of one of my spiritual teachers, I started talking to my Dad, just as I spoke with him when he was alive. And I started imagining what he might say as a response or I asked for a direct sign that he heard me. I’ve been told that our loved ones can hear us when we speak. That’s when I started finding pennies from heaven. One of my intuitives told me that one of the ways he would communicate with me was by leaving me pennies (and I’ve read that this is not on uncommon way that our deceased loved ones make contact). When I have a question for him or ask for his help…and even when I’m troubled by something that I’m wanting to be resolved…I will find a penny…in some strange places. I take that as a sign that he’s letting me know that he has my back…as he always has. He has given me other signs (that I would recognize) when I ask for them as well. Always my Dad.
I have started feeling his presence more around me. When I was up in Ojai sitting outside at night watching the stars and again, when I was at a Dodger’s game. Mostly doing things or experiencing things my Dad loved…forging that connection with him in a new way.
One might dismiss all I’ve shared as a sad grieving daughter not willing to accept the reality that her Dad is dead and desperate to find meaning. Believe me, I’ve considered that myself. There is a permanance to death…like never again seeing or hugging or hearing a loved one’s voice or laugh. However why should love die when our loved ones do? And if our love is so strong…why shouldn’t that connection and relationship remain…particularly that of a parent to a child, or a spouse to a spouse (my mom has had similar experiences). My father was a man who deeply loved his family and was always there for them…why should that change now that he’s not in his physical body.
Why should the relationship die after a loved one dies? What if it does just changes form? I was committed to having an extraordinary relationship with my Dad while he was alive. And I did a lot of work on myself to transform over the years and complete anything unresolved from my past with him. I constantly did what I needed to reinvent myself and the relationship over and over again…with lots of opportunities for growth along the way. And in that level of growth, I came to an acceptance of my Dad…who he was and who he wasn’t…nothing incomplete or unresolved…which at last…opened up a deep level of intimacy and love to consistently be present. I’m grateful I got to have that experience…that he got to have that experience and fully be loved by his daughter and that I was willing to do whatever it took to create that. Why should that end? All that is present is love. What if that love contributes to our loves ones journey where ever they may be? What if we simply need to open ourselves up to continue to be in relationship with our deceased loved ones? And be willing to explore what that relationship might be? To kiss the spirit world, if you will.
There are a thousand little things I miss about my Dad when he was in his physical body. Who he was, what he would say, what he did. I will forever miss him picking me up and dropping me off at the airport…that simple task…was so precious to me…as it was one of my Dad’s many ways of expressing love…acts of service…and it was our time to just be together and get connected…even if there were no words being spoken. And I wonder, what new experiences might I have with him now that he is in his subtle body.
My Dad’s absence will always be palpable, but I am starting to find him in places I never looked before. By opening myself up to other realms, by learning to read the signs. And he comes to LA to visit now…he never liked coming here when he was alive.
I read somewhere that a part of the old you dies with your loved one and a part of your loved one lives on in the new you. As I travel along this journey of grief it continues to be a masterful teacher, and I would stay I agree with that statement. I’ve had to start relying on myself more and finding that strength that my Dad always pulled forward in me, when I couldn’t see it, on my own. It was always there, I’ve just needed to learn to see it for myself. I’ve also started seeing myself as the powerful woman he saw me grow into vs. the scared little girl I thought I still was. I’ve needed to start to learn to parent myself. I am my father’s daughter and I think he’s proud of who I’m growing into…knowing that he did his job and left me to carry on his legacy. And I can just picture him smiling and saying “You are one classy broad, Neen.”