As a psychotherapist, I am aware that the traditional Western approach to grief (grieve, let go, and move on) often leaves the bereaved at an even greater loss.
In fact, when writing my book, Love Never Dies, I discovered that the Western psychiatric community has actually created new diagnostic labels for what they consider abnormal grief reactions. The result: The labels "Prolonged Grief Disorder" and "Complicated Grief Disorder" may be slapped on anyone who hasn't "snapped out of" their grief after six months.
If that's not bad enough, I was utterly shocked to discover that the psychiatric community considers hallucinations to be an integral part of these abnormal grief syndromes.
An article published in 1995 in the American Journal of Psychiatry states, "Preoccupation with thoughts of the deceased . . . disbelief regarding the death . . . and lack of acceptance of the death" are symptoms of these disorders. In other words, if you're open enough to admit that the spirit of your loved one lives on, and, God forbid, if you admit to seeing or hearing a deceased loved one in any form, psychiatrists can immediately assign a crippling label and tell you that you're hallucinating. This is not only ridiculous; it is appalling.
The Birth of My New Grief-Therapy Method
As you read Love Never Dies, you'll learn about my gradual discovery of my own mediumistic abilities. My realization that I could hear not only my deceased husband, Jean, but also other spirit beings motivated me to develop a groundbreaking grief-therapy method that guides the bereaved to reconnect rather than say good-bye. Since 2006, I have been assisting grieving patients worldwide in doing just this, and the healing that has resulted is astonishing.
We can be in touch to whatever degree we desire. Reconnecting is especially vital for those who have lost a loved one to sudden illness or tragic death. These people have been robbed of the chance to say farewell and, if needed, to make amends. While some may simply wish to reestablish contact in the early stages of loss to help work through the grieving process, there are many other cases in which ongoing connection is desirable.
For example, reconnecting and staying connected is a lifeline, especially for the elderly, who may not wish to form another primary attachment. Likewise, many parents who have lost children desperately need long-term contact, as do children who have lost parents.
My point is, reconnecting with a deceased loved one and staying connected is a form of healing that cannot be measured or prescribed. Of course, the wonder of it all is that, as you will see, you don't have to say au revoir to anyone dearly departed, because you can reunite with your loved ones sooner than you thought.
But reconnecting is just the beginning. Millions of people harbor resentment toward the deceased, often as a result of having been abused or mistreated by a parent, sibling, partner, or spouse who has since died. Unfortunately, traditional Western therapy offers no method for resolving this unfinished business. In contrast, my method provides a solution for the millions who suffer.
Inspired by Jean's revelations regarding the transformations that occur after death, I now know that when someone enters spirit form, that being has — at the very least — a clearer perspective on the mistakes that he or she made on Earth. This awareness sets the stage for reconciliation. While it's true that some beings are waiting with open arms to make peace and shower us with love, others may need a little more nudging. It's never too late to heal wounds, resolve resentments, make peace, and repair a damaged relationship with someone who has passed over. In death, it is possible to resolve issues that never could have been addressed during a person's lifetime. Just knowing that we are meant to reconnect and stay connected with loved ones in spirit is often sufficient to begin the process of reconnecting.
A word of caution. Sometimes the bereaved are convinced that their loved ones aren't reaching out to them, when in fact they are. This is because grief can block our receptivity to spirit communications. In fact, intense emotional states operate in the much same way as a stormy atmosphere blocks the reception of radio signals.
In order to open ourselves to receiving, we must walk a fine line. One the one hand, we must allow ourselves to feel all our feelings, and not block them using drugs or alcohol. At the same time, we must be careful to not emotionally flood. I can attest to the fact that whenever I was too consumed with grief, I couldn't hear Jean speaking to me. I felt as though I were shut down and cut off from him, and therefore was unreceptive to his words. At times like these, I learned to walk a tightrope in which I was aware of the extent of my grief, but not drowning in it.
When I was this upset, I gave myself what I call a "Moonstruck moment." Do you remember the scene in the movie Moonstruck when Nicolas Cage declares his love to Cher, who is engaged to marry his brother? She doesn't want to hear that he loves her, so she slaps him and says, "Snap out of it!" So whenever I found myself on the verge of emotional flooding, I said this to myself and, in so doing, I snapped myself out of self-pity and back into a state of receptivity.
The question arises, "How can you be open to all emotional experiences while at the same time avoiding emotional flooding?" First, you need to consciously observe yourself. To do this, you must fortify a part of the psyche that's called the observing ego. One way to strengthen the observing ego's power is to imagine yourself split in two. One part of you is sitting in the corner, at the edge of the ceiling and looking down upon the other part. Another way to awaken your observing ego is to imagine yourself like an eagle, watching yourself from above. As you observe yourself, you must learn to recognize the signs that you're on the verge of emotionally flooding. These signs include a feeling of being washed overboard, out of control or hysterical. You might find yourself crying uncontrollably, unable to catch your breath. Or you might be yelling or screaming. When you're flooding, you aren't watching your feelings; you are drowning in them.
As your observing ego grows stronger, you can learn to regulate your own emotional states. Consider a radio volume dial. You can turn the knob up or down. Likewise, with the help of your observing ego, you will learn to recognize when you're starting to flood and be emotionally aware without becoming overwhelmed.
This will set the stage for your reconnection with loved (and hated) beings in spirit.
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More from YourTango: 3 Ways Music Can Set The Mood
She's credited with changing the sound of R&B and the music industry will always be grateful for the legendary sound she left them in her short life. If you miss her as much as we do grab one of her albums and enjoy hearing her voice blend with the smooth sounds of the bass.
Credit: PATRICK HERTZOG/AFP/Getty Images
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