My husband is a hospital chaplain and told of a man in the intensive care unit (ICU) who was dying of stomach cancer. The man had been fighting the cancer for several years, and was brought to the brink of death much faster than anyone anticipated. He had a wife and grown children, and the wife was angry — angry that he was dying and losing the fight. She wanted to be married to a winner, did not want to talk about death, did not want to make plans for when he died, did not like what the doctors were telling her, and dealt with this by refusing to visit her husband.
When someone you love is dying or has died, it is easy to get caught up in the fantasy of, “If I don’t say good-bye, they won’t leave.” But it doesn’t work that way. Death has a way of taking people away from us whether we like it or not, and whether we say good-bye or not.
The flip side of this is that people anguish over a loved one’s death when a good-bye wasn’t possible or when the last good-bye was bad. When a loved one dies while away from you, or when your last conversation with them was unpleasant, it can be hard to find closure and let go. But you need to let go. Saying good-bye is how we all move on — not just us, but our dearly departed as well. Our deceased loved ones need a final farewell as a send-off to the afterlife and ascension, and we need it to move on to fully living.
The most common send-off is a funeral. Popular wisdom is that funerals are for the living, but they are also important for the dead. We treat funerals as an opportunity for a community of loved ones to publicly grieve, to mark and acknowledge the person’s life and death, and to come together in ritual. We wear dark clothing, maintain a somber attitude, say prayers and eulogies, and even take turns throwing dirt on the lowered coffin. We are people of ritual, and ritualizing death helps us make sense of loss. But funerals have another component. As a psychic medium, I can attest to the fact that the spirits of the deceased are always at their funeral, always watching and listening. It is an important ritual for them, too, and I think funerals have a way of temporarily thinning the veil between worlds (the here and the hereafter) for spirits to say a final farewell to the living just as the living are saying their good-byes to them.
I cannot stress enough the importance of a good good-bye. A farewell and send-off releases the spirits of the dead and allows them to move fully into the afterlife and ascend. When we don’t say good-bye, we allow ourselves to get stuck in an early stage of grief, wishing for them to come back, and we make it difficult for our departed loved ones to complete their journey.
The good news is that it is never too late for a good-bye, and funerals aren’t the only opportunities to let go. It is natural for the deceased to be remembered on a birthday, anniversary, special holidays, and other honored days, but really, any day will do. And the ritual for saying a final good-bye to someone who has died is a simple one: remember them, speak the truth that is in your heart, and send them forth. Your thoughts of them will draw their spirit to you, so they will hear you. Doing this has a way of thinning the veil between worlds as well, so you may also hear them.
In the Wicca tradition, celebrations of Samhain on October 31 are, in part, a final farewell to the spirits of those who died in the previous year. Wiccans believe that the veil is naturally thinnest on Samhain, so spirits are able to revisit their homes one last time, and communication with departed loved ones is easiest then.
I have not investigated the thinness of the veil on Halloween, but I do know that spirit activity is high on that night, and spirits of the dead anticipate that day as a party in their honor. Thin veil or no, with Halloween two weeks away, this is a good time of year for a final good bye.
If you know of a good-bye that you need to say, but can’t, I may be able to help. I am a medium, and during psychic readings, I act as a go-between, enabling people to speak directly to a deceased loved one. If the chance for a final conversation is desirable, or necessary for closure, send me an email to begin the process. A good good-bye is a healing thing. Please take every opportunity to have them with those you love.