Thursday, April 21, 2016

The Possibility of Healing After Death

My father died of advanced Alzheimer’s one year ago tomorrow- April 22, 2015. He was eighty-three. My brother died three weeks ago today, of an aortic aneurysm. He was sixty years old.
I’ve been kind of quiet this week, just sitting with my own heart and what arises in the stillness.
Often the death of those close to us reminds us of our own mortality and encourages us to live and love fully and deeply. In the shamanic traditions in which I was trained this is called making Death an Ally.
My father and my brother had not spoken in years. My father wanted nothing to do with my brother because he was an alcoholic, and my brother’s anger with my father for abuses during his childhood meant he did not want contact. I do not judge either’s choice not to be in touch- they did what they felt was right for them- although I was witness to the pain this choice reflected and created.
I cannot help but wonder if their paths will cross now, wherever or whatever continues of these two men I knew and loved. I have no set belief about what happens after we die (and I am fine with that.) I can imagine reincarnation, movement to other realities, or other scenarios, and I have an overwhelming sense that whatever happens it is truly. . . okay.
But, I cannot help but imagine some kind of encounter between my father and my brother. . . . elsewhere.
If this is possible- how might it go? Will death soften their hearts and offer them perspective on how each did the best he could without denying the harm sometimes done by the other’s best to self and others?
I don’t know. But as I sit quietly during these days of remembrance and grief, I find myself hoping for some healing between them. I like to picture them sitting in the small red row boat we had, fishing. I imagine them in companionable silence, enjoying the northern wilderness they both loved, appreciating the quiet together.
And I know that this is my vision. I can't know if something like this is even possible- and I am okay with the not-knowing and the holding of this hope. Envisioning this possibility is my way of holding them both in love right now, a way of remembering what matters and what does not, a way of helping to heal the family spiral. ~Oriah
Deep gratitude to Karen Davis for this beautiful photo found on Open Door Dreaming this morning.


  1. I tend to think of death as a reconciliation with life, each other, a higher being, I'm not sure but am hopeful.

  2. So many times, Oriah, after reading your written word, I so wish we could have a live conversation. Your words speak for me so often. Know that your words touch so many more hearts than you know, then times that amount by 10.
    Today is my 67th birthday. All my family of origin have gone before me. My siblings, both younger, passed away as fairly young adults. Alcoholism ran rampant in our family, as did cancer and abuse. Somedays, I imagine them together arounda card table, cheating on purpose, snort-laughing and having a grand time loving each other the best that they know how! Thank you for being you.
    Sincerely, Pattra

    1. Pattra, what a wonderful image you pain of the fun around that car table. And Happy Birthday. I am so sorry to hear of so many losses in your life- you will have to celebrate for all those who cannot be with you to do so today. Blessings, Oriah

    2. Pattra, just noticed how many lost letters there were in my comment- clearly I meant "paint" and "card" :-)

  3. Hello Oriah, my name is María and I write to you from Spain. I have to tell you that after discovering your book The Dance two weeks ago during a Minfulness seminar, you have been living with me, clinged to my heart and thoughts.
    When I was little I used to draw lakes and forests in Canada during boring school classes, longing to go there, sitting still by the water, just feeling at peace.
    I am not a child anymore, I work in a hospital with very sick children with cancer and other diseases and I still look for a secure refuge in Nature when not-knowing is not enough.
    Thank you so much sharing your soul with us, because in the process, I am finding the way to do the same.

    1. So glad The Dance is speaking to you Maria- lovely to connect and thank you for the wonderful work you do with children.

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. Seemed to be a repeat Pattra so just left the one copy up.