Today, I’d like to share this beautiful excerpt from John O’Donuhue’s book Beauty: The Invisible Embrace
The dead are not distant or absent. They are alongside us. When we lose someone to death, we lose their physical image and presence, they slip out of visible form into invisible presence. This alteration of form is the reason we cannot see the dead. But because we cannot see them does not mean that they are not there. Transfigured into eternal form, the dead cannot reverse the journey and even for one second re-enter their old form to linger with us a while. Though they cannot reappear, they continue to be near us and part of the healing of grief is the refinement of our hearts whereby we come to sense their loving nearness. When we ourselves enter the eternal world and come to see our lives on earth in full view, we may be surprised at the immense assistance and support with which our departed loved ones have accompanied every moment of our lives. In their new, transfigured presence their compassion, understanding and love take on a divine depth, enabling them to become secret angels guiding and sheltering the unfolding of our destiny.
Beauty: The Invisible Embrace by John O’Donohue is available here.
John O’Donohue’s words and wisdom about grief have given me a lot of comfort over the years. This excerpt is especially meaningful to me. In the dark hours of the first night after my husband died, I pleaded for a sign, desperate to know if he was okay. I was in shock, and not able to believe he was really gone.
Jim gave me a sign in the moment I needed it most—he loved me from somewhere else and wanted me to know. I only told the few who would understand because I was afraid people would think I was crazy. I already felt like I was going crazy trying to comprehend this new world of After. I was filled with overwhelming pain, grief, and fear.
When you have trouble facing reality and are straddling the two worlds—the Before and the After—you cling to the Before, not ready to move into the After. It is overwhelming to face the reality of what’s happened. The liminal space. Often, when in this space, things happen that are magical and mystical. Let small miracles help guide and comfort you as you adjust to a new reality.
Countless people have found solace in signs from loved ones…Spirit lives on. The connected bond of love doesn’t end.
There are many ways we can continue to experience this connection. Through dreams, songs, scents, finding something special in odd places. In nature. Whenever I see a white butterfly I know it’s my Aunt Judy reminding me of our everlasting connection. Be open to see what comes. You will know.
John writes how our loved ones can become our angels, guiding and supporting us. “part of the healing of grief is the refinement of our hearts whereby we come to sense their loving nearness.” I hope his words offer comfort and solace if you are grieving. Or, if you know someone who is grieving, please share it with them, I know it will mean so much.
My heart goes out to everyone in this difficult time. It’s important to feel connected – we are all in this together, and together we will get through it. Love will prevail. Never lose hope.
Sending prayers, love, and light.
Remember to be kind to yourself and to others.
From my heart to yours,
The above excerpt by John O’Donohue is used with permission.
Debbie Augenthaler, LMHC, NCC, is an author and psychotherapist in private practice in New York City, where she specializes in trauma, grief and loss. Her award-winning book, You Are Not Alone: A Heartfelt Guide for Grief, Healing, and Hope combines her personal story of devastating loss with practical insights and simple suggestions for healing. Join her Facebook community, Grief to Gratitude, and follow her on Instagram.