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Continuing Bonds


It’s a thing in grief. In fact, most people, no matter if they are atheist or deeply religious, ache to remain connected with the person they loved and lost. Finding a way to honor a continuing connection with someone who dies is one of the most healing phases of a grief journey. Doing so honors what I have come to believe—just because someone has died, doesn’t mean we stop loving them. In fact, our love lives on, and in my opinion, the relationship does as well. What the relationship will look like must evolve, yet the bond continues to exist. When ready, I encourage the people I encounter to move towards this relationship, to claim it, to protect it, and to nourish it.


Each of us must find our own way to continue this bond. A continuing bond may be a ritual of remembering the person, such as a daily walk that involves passing her favorite tree or having his favorite type of coffee creamer every morning. It might be talking to them at the gravesite, or to his urn. Some continuing bonds involve the us taking those risks we always thought about and/or making changes in one’s life, knowing she would be proud.


Other continuing bonds involve a sense of presence of the deceased. After death communications (known as ADCs) are often described as feeling a sense of presence, having a vivid dream, seeing, hearing, or smelling the person or something that is reminiscent of the person, and any other meaningful sign of loved one. These are very common among people who grieve and I often find that many are reluctant to share in these. I encourage anyone I work with to embrace a connection, no matter their belief system, no matter what other people think, because honoring our grief means allowing ourselves to remain in relationship with the person and people we lose.


This sketch came from my own experience this past winter when I discovered green orbs in almost every one of the photographs I took in the Columbia River Gorge. I like to think it was my grandfather, Henry, teasing me a bit (and not just how the light and camera interacted).


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