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Grief – Grace – Gratitude

Photo by Thomas M. Stewart

I said: What about my heart?
He said: Tell me what you hold inside it?
I said: Pain and sorrow.
He said: Stay with it. The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”

The veil between worlds was lifted when I was struck by a lightning bolt of grief. The untamable nature of grieving requires vulnerability and outrageous courage to enter and sit in the fire of transformation. I didn’t want to run from it, turn away from it or numb myself. Although I was in shock, I wanted to embrace the grief and loss of my beloved soulmate. When he died unexpectedly in 2014, death and grief became portals, initiations, and a Pachakuti. A river of tears was unleashed, and I dove deeply and wholeheartedly into those waters. There was no dam for my tears, they were raw and primal emanating from the depths of my being. Surrendering to my animal body, I howled, bowed, kneeled, and then reverently drank from the cup of grief medicine.

All journeys are unique when death comes calling. Grieving is individual and universal. One’s journey with death and grief is as distinct as a fingerprint, no two alike, yet the experience unites us like all the fingers of a hand. The grief medicine reflected our life lived, our unfinished life, and our future life which had shape-shifted in a nanosecond.

When he died, I was enrolled in “The Path of the Universal Shaman – Advanced Intensive,” and I’m so grateful to don Oscar, Cindy and the ayllu for their love and presence during my first steps on this journey. Everything as I knew it, myself, my beloved, my medicine, and all worlds became untethered and I was free falling. As a mid-wife to those entering the Kay Pacha and those making their journey to the Hanaq Pacha, I’ve held ceremony and vigil at the crossing to the river of stars, but as I said, each journey is its own. The suddenness and shock of his loss left me feeling unwhole; some of me went with him, as some of him had stayed with me. I vowed to stay with him during the 49 days through the bardos; it was our love compacto, my way of remembering him as my soul mate here on the Pachamama and receiving him now as my star mate.

Cindy guided me to place a candle at the northwest corner of my mesa. I felt Siwar Q’enti, Royal Hummingbird, hovering, building the K’uychi Chaka, rainbow bridge for his soul’s crossing. The portal was wide open. The saywa, shaft of light, received k’anchay, a brilliant light transmitting luminosity from the northwest corner of the mesa to the Hanaq Pacha. The mesa is me, is us, the ground, the sky, the celestial canopy where all worlds unite and work together for the medicine that I was gestating. Candles burned during those 49 days. The mesa became the ground of transformation, holding him in sacred space and ushering him home to the ocean of stars.

Photo by Deborah Sullivan

Photo by Q-liev-in

During the 49 days in the bardos I went on many Ensueño journeys – dream travel with my beloved. One morning as dawn was rising, I was drifting in and out of a liminal state of awareness wherein we were walking together in nature as we often did, holding hands and graced in the beauty of the Pachamama. In the darkness I could hear a stream running alongside us. The milky way shimmered above our heads. I sensed the touch of his hand in mine lessening as his presence evanesced. The transition felt as though I was losing him, and I relived him being torn from my heart. Once again waves of grief had overtaken me. I wanted so badly to go with him, but the waters separated us. I was being swept away into a rapidly-moving river of frothing, milky waters, and I surrendered to the flow. The waters morphed into the life-giving energies here on the Pachamama. Soaking in the animated essence of sami was my medicine, and I received the message: my path was to continue here.

Soon after the Ensueño journey, I remained behind the veil and met him at a river crossing where an effusion of light emanating across a galactic ocean guided me to a riverbank. He was lying in a beautiful hand-hewn canoe with sentinels standing at each end. His long black hair was flowing over his robe of light and his face looked human, a mirror reflection of his beautiful, kind and loving Self. The sentinels beckoned me to come. I had never crossed the river before, just held vigil at the bank. My soul filled with brilliant, white luminosity as I crossed the waters, gliding over him like a cloak of love honoring both his Earth life and his awakening to the sea of stars. Approaching the shoreline, there was a palpable field signaling that I could go no further. After he crossed over, the womb of the universe returned me to the Pachamama, there was only munay – infinite love that never dies.

Later that week, two hawks were circling our home. They flew away and came back three times dancing in the sky together, and then flying off to the distant horizon toward the ocean. It was a blessed visitation, and I knew it was him. From the line of the horizon one of the hawks flew back to circle above my head, and land on a nearby tree. This love language, messages from the celestial canopy and the mama pacha, continues to inspire the story that guides me.

Photo by Thomas M. Stewart

don Oscar’s words, “tears are the safety valves of the heart,” have become a source of refuge for me. I felt witnessed, seen, and invited to honor my tears without expectation or judgement of myself or the grieving journey. The rawness I embodied couldn’t hold the immensity of the pain, but our love became a holy ground for me to dig deep so I could harness the strength to meet each wave of grief with love and gratitude. Slowly, my mantra became ‘Grief, Grace, and Gratitude,’ and it was my gratitude for our love that carried me toward the next shore, and I am still on that journey. The love that we were, that we continue to be, grows and becomes the medicine for my beauty way walk here with the Pachamama. It is the love that helps me to be brave, to embrace what emerges within me moment by moment. My wound is where the light entered me as Rumi so beautifully speaks.

We are stars wrapped in skin. . .
There is a sacredness in tears. . .
Through love, all pain will turn to medicine. . .

Photo by Thomas M. Stewart

About the Author

Deborah is a universal ceremonialist and cross-cultural energy medicine practitioner cultivating sacred ways of living within oneself, with others and with the Pachamama. She offers her visionary skills as a teacher, soul path mentor, shamanic aromatherapist, yoga nidra midwife, and minister. For the past 45 years, she has apprenticed and walked with medicine men and women, guides and teachers who have generously transmitted their sacred ceremonies and beautywalk – Deborah’s service path is an infusion of this love and wisdom. She has been guiding women’s circles and ceremonies for over four decades, supporting women through initiations and transformations. She serves as a life transition guide supporting both conscious death and grieving loved ones. She is the creator of Sacred Ways and Elemental Nature. Elemental Nature embodies the art of sacred, alchemical blending and its rich ancestral heritage with our plant relatives and the ancient medicine ways. You can discover her aromatic sacred space sprays and alchemical blends for honoring your medicine path at sacredways.net/shop/

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