Love and Loss Through the Eyes of a Shaman

Despite the pain, death is merely the doorway to a new beginning.

My father’s daughter

From the Shamanic perspective, the veil between the human and spirit world is an extraordinarily sheer one. Time is not linear and can be easily navigated through altered states of consciousness to access important information, ancient wisdom and powerful healing. We rely on ancestors, nature, as well as spirit and animal guides to accompany and assist us in these journeys.

A Shaman does not fear death or even the process of dying, as it is simply the bridge between worlds that allows our ethereal energy to bloom without the constraints of the mortal cocoon. However, despite all that we know, all that we’ve seen, the pain and loss of a loved one is just as real and tangible as anyone else’s.

One week ago today, on January 8th, 2017, my father died. Even though he had cardiovascular issues and had undergone quadruple bypass surgery in the not so distant past, his loss was still a shock, still unexpected, still devastating. I got the call from my nephew that he had been rushed to the ER because his heart stopped in the middle of a grocery store and a huge lump developed in my throat. When I finally reached the hospital and saw his bruised and bloodied face, was told his ribs were broken from the chest compressions, and it was likely that he had suffered brain damage because of oxygen deprivation before resuscitation, my knees buckled.

Instead of collapsing I closed my eyes and did the only thing I knew to do. I began to Reiki my hands, the roof of my mouth, the room, and most importantly, my father’s lifeless form. I used Shamanic breath to blow the traumatic energy and suffering away from his body and focused my intention on bringing him peace, comfort and healing — whatever that meant at the moment. In hindsight, I realized that those were not the actions of my conscious mind.

I spent the following five days floating in and out of consciousness, one foot in this world, one in the next, reading to him the poetry of Rumi, followed by Reiki sessions and more talking, pleading, crying and communing with his spirit. I desperately fought the urge to beg him to stay. Even though he was in a coma and we were told that he had ceased to exist as we once knew him, I knew he could hear and absorb my every word. I reiterated that once the doctors had exhausted all of their efforts and resources to reconnect his brain to his body, the choice would be his. If he didn’t want to return, he didn’t have to and that my sister and I would fully understand. If he did, we would love and care for him no matter what his condition.

On the fifth day, when the time had arrived to set my father free, I called on all of my ancestors, spirit guides, the Great Spirit to ease his passage and gently escort him to his final awakening without further discomfort or delay. I continued to administer Reiki with my right hand and held his left with the other. My sister stood to his right, cradling his right hand in her own, reassuring him of how much he was loved and encouraged him to let go, without fear or regret. In less than five minutes, with a single tear escaping his left eye, my father slipped away…and although he had never regained consciousness, I knew he was grateful for that moment.

Today, one week later, I am slightly debilitated and cloistered away from the outside world. This is how I process and grieve. In time I will heal and eventually reemerge, knowing that life will never be as it once was, and that’s ok. Physical death is of course, an ending. However, with that comes a new beginning.

My relationship with my father will continue, even deepen, as odd as that may sound to some. He has now joined my mother as the most illustrious of my spirit guides and will continue on through all that I am and all that I do.

We, his children, his grandchildren and those to follow, will continue to honor and celebrate his legacy by living good, meaningful, joyous lives…safe and comforted in the knowledge that he’ll be carrying us the entire way.