by Christina Rasmussen, author of Where Did You Go?
“Death ends a life, not a relationship.”
—Tuesdays with Morrie
In the days, weeks and months that followed my 35-year-old husband’s death, I swung between mind-numbing grief and an insatiable search for him, for his essence. One moment I was painfully sad, the next moment I was hunting for his ghost, spirit body, soul—anything that was him.
Even though I’d been brought up Greek Orthodox, my religious background didn’t help me. In fact, immediately trying to apply my faith to my dire circumstances actually deepened my doubts about what faith really meant to me, my two young daughters, and life in general, that someone we loved dearly was now in a place called heaven, or the afterlife.
The journey that started the day my husband died has been the most important journey of my life. I spent those first few years after his passing barely surviving. Living day in and day out inside a routine that took away my passion for life. A routine based on fear of the future and dictated by my ego’s need to “protect” myself by keeping myself stuck in one place.
I hated my life, my future, and every moment of every day. I was envious of women whose husbands were still alive, envious of parents taking their kids out for pancakes on a Sunday morning and living their perfect lives. I was a bitter, angry young widow. Dark thoughts filled my head—an ugly monster roaring. Not a pretty picture, and one I’m not proud of. But it’s the truth. The years went by. The searching and rote surviving continued.
I threw myself into the world of brain science and discovered how the brain likes to loop grief and never let it go. I discovered that, for me, studying the brain was the only way out of the pain I was entrenched in. I could do something with what I was learning, instead of just existing in a never-ending state of grief, “waiting,” as so many books on grieving advised, “for time to heal me,” while at the same time telling me that “grief is supposed to last forever.” Those two concepts made me furious because waiting for precious time to pass was not the way I wanted to spend my life. But that exact advice—that terrible advice I was given—fueled my mission to impact the world of grief with an action-oriented process.
During the next several years that followed, I didn’t just get my own life back, I helped thousands of others do the same. And yet, there was always one part missing. I worked with so many people who continued to search for their lost beloveds—even after they had reclaimed their own lives—even when they were back to thriving again. I, too, continued this search.
In some way, it wasn’t enough to find our way back to a good life. Because once we had re-entered our lives and could face such questions like, “How can I possibly move on?”, we were hungry to discover the answers to even bigger questions. And one of the biggest questions that kept echoing through my mind was, “Where did you go?
The deeper into the science and theories I went, the more I realized how much our scientists already know about the universe, and about how life and death and our perception of it all really works. But so many of these findings have not made their way to the masses. For instance, there is substantial evidence—from personal accounts to theories in quantum physics, to discoveries accepted as facts in the scientific community—that life as we perceive it is merely one of many dimensions existing all around us at any given moment. And these different dimensions hold far more than what can been seen with he human eye.
I now realize that we’ve gone far in our discoveries but not far in our experiences, and certainly not far in the sharing of these discoveries. Therefore, here are five hard yet powerful lessons I’ve learned over the past decade of studying the science of life after loss—just a small highlight of what I dive deeper into in my brand new book, Where Did You Go? A Life-Changing Journey to Connect with Those We’ve Lost:
1. You are made to survive the hardest days of your life
You are born with the ability to change your life no matter how much loss, sadness and difficulty you are experiencing. You are born ready even though you don’t feel ready. You are literally hardwired to reinvent yourself and overcome. You don’t even have to learn to do it, you already know how. You just need to focus your energy gradually and accordingly. Grieve with each small step forward, one at a time, one day after the next.
This is your journey and you can write the map to where you are going. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t, that you should just sit around and “wait” longer… that there is no way out right now. There is a way! And you are standing right in front of it.
Your life is your creation. When you start to know this—to truly know this—then you can be more in control of your life and what happens within it from moment to moment.
2. You are the primary creator of your life experience
In a very real sense, your life is created one day at a time by you and the people you choose to have around you. This is crucial to know. You are the creator of yourself and your destiny in each moment. In a very real sense, what you choose to experience, and who you choose to share each experience with, influences your ultimate creation.
In other words, you create your life by choosing the kind of story you want to tell every day. You create it by the way you respond to difficult and painful circumstances. By the way you see the world and by the people you choose to keep in your life. Or, as Marc and Angel have so perfectly stated in their recent NY Times bestseller, “You aren’t responsible for everything that happened to you, but you need to be responsible for undoing the thinking patterns these outcomes created. What you focus on grows stronger in your life. It’s time to change your response to what you remember, and step forward again with grace.”
3. Death is not the end
Death is not death. When someone you love dies, it just means they exist in another way—in another dimension that is non-local, non-geographical, non-physical looking. You have access to that dimension. Every day. Every moment. You don’t have to wait for them to contact you. You can be the one connecting with them. And they want to connect with you, too.
This has been one of the biggest discoveries I made while writing my new book, Where Did You Go? Those loved ones you’ve lost want you to say hi—they want you to talk to them. I know this can come across as peculiar; I am fully aware of that. But through my research and practice I have learned that death is just a word we use to describe the end of someone’s physical life. Not the absolute end of them.
4. Empty space is as full and real as you are
When you study quantum physics long enough you learn that your body, the table in front of you, the computer, the phone, the trees, the solid-looking things in your life are not really solid. They just appear solid and firm. The truth is that the nothingness of the space between your table and chairs, is the same as the table and chairs. Nothing and not nothing is one and the same. The empty space next to you, is made the way you are made.
One of the reasons this is important to understand is simply that the empty space you perceive around you is not really empty at all—it contains far more than what meets the eye, including the loved ones you’ve lost. They are still here but you can’t see them with your physical sense of sight. Your eyes can’t see all the light that exists in a different dimension. Your ears can’t hear all the sounds that exist there either. The people we think we’ve lost are right here inside all the space around us. We really aren’t alone when we are alone.
5. Nothing is impossible
There truly is a deeper reality, a deeper level of life that we can’t see from here, and it is where miracles originate from. Where healing takes place. Where everything gets created in the space around us. And this deeper, more hidden reality is in many ways more real than the one we perceive with our (flawed) physical senses. And you can bring everything you want from there to here. This only seems impossible to you right now. But it isn’t. NOTHING is impossible!
Not believing this—not knowing this—is like trying to drive a car at night without the lights on. There are always impossible obstacles and objects in front of us and around us that we can’t immediately see, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t there, or that they can’t affect us. Please don’t forget it. You are the driver of this experience you call life, and you now know what you need to work on, to turn the lights back on.
You Impossibly Survived the Unthinkable
In the end, one thing I know for sure is that life after loss can be the most extraordinary chapter of your life.
Because those of us who have lost someone we love now want the answers to the bigger questions we never even thought to ask before loss. The routine of the everyday life is not the same, and it surely isn’t enough. The basic answers to what life is about no longer seem to fit. We want more, we are the leaders, seekers and makers of the impossible future. Because of our deep grief, our forced access to higher levels of grit, and above all our close proximity to death through the loss of our loved ones, we have an evolutionary advantage. Know this. Let it sink in. Nothing is ever the same after such tragedies. It’s time to live your life in ways you never dreamed were possible! The world is waiting for people like you to show them the way.
After all, you made it this far, and that my friend was not easy. You went through the unthinkable and made it, and that’s why I believe you can do the impossible. As for me, the day my young husband died I made a promise to him, that I would live my life as if it has two lives in it. One for me and one for him. Full of wonder, love, adventure and above all the edge… the edge of my comfort zone! Tip toeing every day towards new horizons.
Closing Remarks by Angel
In her first book, Second Firsts, our good friend and grief educator, Christina Rasmussen, helped countless readers (including Marc and me) cope with and rebuild their lives after loss. She fused both her professional expertise as an educator and her personal experience of becoming a widow at age 35 to selflessly help others re-enter their lives after loss. However, even though Christina had rediscovered joy in her life after loss, and was now helping others do the same, she wrestled with one persistent question whenever she thought of her late husband: “Where did you go?”
Like so many of us who have lost loved ones, she continued to wonder what had become of her husband—and whether there is any hope of connecting with our loved ones after they have passed on. Now in her second book, Where Did You Go? A Life-Changing Journey to Connect with Those We’ve Lost, Christina reveals not only that the answer is “yes,” but that we all have the ability to reconnect with our lost loved ones, while accessing a timeless consciousness that can profoundly change our lives here and now.
Books about the afterlife generally fall into one of two categories: spiritual or science-based. Christina—who grew up in a small Greek town where religion permeated daily life, but who fell in love with neuroscience and psychology while studying in both Europe and the United States—merges the metaphysical with the scientific in Where Did You Go?, delving into quantum physics and brain science to make the invisible visible, and illuminate some of our most pressing spiritual questions.
If you have lost someone you love, this book is a must-read for 2019! And yes, like Christina mentioned above, I know the idea of reconnecting with a late loved one sounds impossible, but I ask you to open your mind and trust that death is only a gateway to a higher level of consciousness—be willing to challenge your perspective. You’ll be amazed by what you discover, one way or another.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! 🙂
Now, it’s YOUR turn…
If you’re feeling up to it, I would love to hear from YOU in the comments section.
What have you learned, and how have you grown, through the experience of losing someone you love?
Anything else to share?
Please leave me a comment below.
Author Bio: Christina Rasmussen is an acclaimed grief educator, the author of Second Firsts and Where Did You Go? She is also the founder of The Life Reentry Institute and has helped countless people break out of what she coined the “waiting room” of grief to rebuild their lives through her Life Reentry Model. With this, she introduces a new model of grief based on the science of neuroplasticity. She describes grief as a catalyst for redefining identity, and outlines the process of “reentry”, or returning to life. Her mission is to change the way we grieve, the way we live, and how we define our potential in this life, and the hereafter.