When Someone You Love Takes Their Life
A month ago, a dear friend of mine took his own life. He had been in physical pain for years, and he’d been in a lot of emotional pain, as well, some of it recent, and some of it he had been carrying for a long time. I had heard the desperation in his voice a couple of weeks earlier when I talked with him on the phone – I’d listened. He’d asked me for a reading and I told him that I would be in Dallas soon, where he lived, and we could do in person. I was on my way to Dallas when I called him, only to have his cousin answer his phone and tell me of his death that morning.
Sadness, anger, disbelief – all of those emotions filled my being in that moment, and they linger still. I’m sure they will continue to unfold as I work my way through them. I selfishly grieve my loss – I loved him. I know that at some point, my grief will be transmuted into something broader, wiser and more loving…..this is part of the gift of our human experience – but in order to realize that broader point of view, we have to have faith in this process called living. We need to understand that this human experience doesn’t reflect the totality of who we are as much as it informs us of who we are – if we’re paying attention.
Two days after his death, I woke up from a vivid dream in which he and I were having an intense conversation, but I couldn’t remember anything that was said. When I got out of bed that morning, I felt his presence in the room, but no thoughts were exchanged other than my expression of my love for him. Otherwise, it’s been quiet – perhaps after my grief has lessened, I’ll hear him; perhaps after the experience of his healing on the other side, he’ll reach out to me directly, or though someone else.
I’ve only had three experiences as a medium in which people who have committed suicide have come through to me.
One was a man in his 40’s who had lived with an illness that got progressively worse. At some point, he made a choice that he did not want to experience the physical manifestation of that disease any longer. For his friends, his parents and his siblings, this choice had consequences – the pain of loss, the ‘why?’ What I remember so distinctly from that session was his saying, “I heard your prayers.” I heard your prayers. He recounted how he could look upon his life from different perspectives from the other side, that he saw how and why he made the choice that he did to take his own life, and that he – the greater part of him, the larger more universal soul-self – felt compassion for the part of him that had experienced that particular physical life. And he felt compassion for those he loved and who grieved his loss. Most importantly, he was at peace.
The second experience is one of the most amazing experiences of my life and one of the most life-affirming.
In the summer of 2010, I attended a workshop with noted medium James van Praagh at the Omega Institute for Holistic Studies. The day I arrived at Omega, I went to the dining hall for lunch. During the summer, Omega is filled with people from all over the country who come for yoga workshops, meditation, holistic healing seminars – it’s a beautiful retreat in the woods about two hours north of New York City. The dining hall was busy, so I simply looked for an available spot and sat down to eat my lunch. I struck up a conversation with the couple next to me – he was an attorney and she a social worker. They’d taken-up yoga as a means to cope with the stress of busy lives. They were interested in my work and knew of James van Praagh. We had a pleasant conversation and then parted ways, off to our respective activities.
There were easily 200 people in James’s workshop and we divided into smaller groups to do exercises and practice. It was a great experience and helped me feel more comfortable doing the work, and of trusting what I get when I do readings. But in one instance, I did a reading for my group of ten or twelve people, and a young man came through – a teen-ager – he told me where he was from and he had a quality of being a little ADHD – he was zooming all over the place on a skateboard. No one in my group knew this young man nor of anyone that he might belong to so I simply thanked him for his presence and acknowledged his effort at getting through to me. Such instances often tests a medium’s resolve and trust in the process – a process that is meant to connect those on the other side with those on this side.
Fast-forward two days later – the workshop has ended and I’m back in the dining hall to eat lunch before leaving. Sitting at a table is the couple I’d met earlier, so I sit down and we started talking about our experiences. They’d enjoyed the yoga and felt rested and relaxed – we had an easy, light conversation. They asked me about the workshop, and I related a few of my experiences, and then I said, “You know, sometimes, though, (as a medium) I don’t get the complete picture. The other day in my group I had a young man come through, a teenager – he said he was from New Jersey, and he loved his skateboard! He was in constant motion – in fact, it was hard to get him to tell me much that was specific – mostly it was my simply getting a sense of who he was, that he was hyperactive and that he experimented with drugs, that he was reckless. He died suddenly, but he didn’t show me how. He didn’t belong to anyone in my group.” At this, her face registered shock and disbelief; tears welled in her eyes. “I think that’s my nephew,” she said. We talked a bit more before she asked for my contact information – “I want to send your information to my sister, his mom.”
A week later, I had a phone session with his mother, Anne. For me, the most memorable aspect of this reading was that her son, fully and completely his soul-self, came to her to stand accountable for his actions, to tell her of the many ways in which she had helped him once he transitioned to the other side, to let her know of all the ways he had learned from her love as she sought to help her surviving sons, his brothers, cope with their grief.
Contemplate the miracles in this experience!
Had this experience not happened to me, I’m not sure I could’ve believed it, either! But it did happen – the Universe (God, Source, Divine Energy – whatever name you attribute to the greater whole of creation) in its infinite love and wisdom, orchestrated an opportunity for me to be of service to a family that had experienced the pain and loss of a son. Here’s what Anne said of the experience:
“Who in these modern times believes in miracles? I didn’t, until they started happening to me. My son, who committed suicide 12 years ago, came through to Rich, who, just as incredibly, found me. Through Rich, my son Todd told me how much my strength in my terrible grief inspired him and how much, as a result, he had grown. He didn’t want me to carry around an image of him as a confused, angry teenager any more. He wanted me to think of him as an adult who had come to take responsibility for the consequences of his choices. Such love…such a gift!”
My work as a medium demonstrates over and over again that miracles happen, that love is never-ending and unconditional, that our prayers are heard, and that there is meaning to this physical experience, despite its many challenges, which are really opportunities IF (and it’s a big if) we can trust, allow and accept.
So today, a month after the death of my friend, I find myself sitting with those words – trust, allow, accept – and these experiences. I’ve said many prayers in the past month for my friend and his family – I know those prayers are heard. He was an incredibly sensitive, intuitive person – in some ways, I don’t think he ever learned how to be at peace with that aspect of himself – more often than not, I think his sensitivity fed his fear rather than reassured him of his place in the world. He had a great sense of humor and loved to travel – he was a dedicated healthcare professional who brought skill and sensitivity to his work helping others. He was a dutiful son. So much good was realized in his life!
His healing is now – he is surrounded by more love than we can possibly conceive of – his heart and mind are integrated into the Oneness that is God.
As I sit with my experience, I’m reminded of a Zen saying:
“May we exist like the Lotus, at home in the muddy water. Thus, we bow, life as it is.”
Thus, I bow – life as it is.
Trust, allow, accept.