I lost my grandmother this Sunday.
She left her body and transitioned to the other side. As I witnessed my family experience her final weeks, my partner interweaving in my experience, and reflected on questions of death, I realized that my relationship with death is quite different than others.
For many years, my relationship with death was full of fear, heavy, and confusing. Dominant, masculine-led traditions I spent time practicing and studying often spoke of hell, fire, and brimstone. Higher powers were quite wrathful if you didn’t follow rules in the exact way they dictated. Spirits and talking to the dead was considered something you don’t mess with and dangerous. I even attended a lecture on death once where a man showed slides of skeletons and their supposedly grotesque formations post-death because of the person’s torment in hell. Death was REALLY scary.
Then there were the nothingness teachings. A sense that it was all an illusion and that there was no higher power. These understandings felt empty, lacking meaning, and dry.
All of these teachings from Western and Eastern traditions alike, shut me down for a long time around death. Life felt pressured and I did everything I could to be the “good girl.” And then it changed.
As I sat in my morning meditation this morning, I recognized that the most healing practice I could do right now for myself and for others is to write about the often ignored, feared, and shoved away topic of death and my dramatically different relationship with it. In fact I believe that many people have similar experiences with death that I am about to share. However, because of our social conditioning, beliefs, and fear of judgement from others, the relationship with many towards death remains fraught with tension.
There are many stories I could tell you about my experience with the other side. Even writing right now I’m recognizing other experiences I have forgotten about. However, since we’re talking about the death of my grandma, let’s talk about family. For now.
A NOTE: The story I’m about to share feels sacred. I hope you will honor it as that. Taking time to read it all the way to the end. Perhaps multiple times. I share this not as a storytelling, rather as a transmission.
It’s long. Longer than a blog post “should be.” Something Greater than limitations and rules of online spaces said this needed to come out, to be breathed into life, and to be read and heard. I see my blog these days anyways as more a of a sacred transmission, sharing, and revealing space.
I first started having experiences with my deceased grandfather many years ago right after his death.
The weekend I went back to Michigan for his funeral I smelled him and sensed him in the middle of the night. Many years later, sitting in my small studio apartment smelling his scent became a regular occurrence.
I had been having this “scent” experience for a long time. I would smell a strong scent, odor, or fragrance that I couldn’t locate physically in the room or space around me. The scents would always be so strong that I couldn’t ignore them. As if someone had shoved jasmine, sandalwood, musk, and cinnamon in my nostrils, to name a few. This is known as clairscent. And with my work with clients I’ve learned that many people have their own experience of this same psychic gift.
The smells are often of people I care about in my life and other times “otherworldly” is the best way I can describe them. Somehow I instinctively know the scents of many of the people close to me. Without ever really taking time to smell them. I don’t know how to explain it any other way. I just know my people’s smells. Sometimes I smell friends before they call or text. When they are thinking of me. When they are in need of support.
When my grandfather’s scent showed up in my apartment the first time, I did what I normally do when this happens. Look for the origin of the smell to make sure I’m actually having a clairscent (psychic scent) experience and not confusing some actual odor in my physical environment with what I think I’m smelling. I’d never find the origin of the smell. And I started to realize he was visiting me often.
It started with his scent and later it was just a feeling. Odi, my African Grey parrot would stare lovingly into my closet and put her head down asking for a scratch like a favorite friend was there. This happened over and over again. While I would second guess myself at first (a pattern I’ve often done since modern society discounts metaphysical experiences) I had physical proof that my feeling was verified by an animal responding that he was. Not only was my deceased grandfather visiting, he was communicating with my parrot.
Whenever he visited I’d simply nod, say hello, and welcome his presence with my heart. It was comforting and familiar because we always had an unspoken connection when he was in this plane of existence. It felt like a natural continuation that we agreed to on some level.
Our interactions expanded one afternoon when I attended my first shamanic journey workshop. My teacher set us up in circle, laying down, comfortable with blankets and pillows. We had been doing a lot of inner work leading up to this first journey experience. As I closed my eyes, listened to her drum, and followed her guidance, I suddenly saw as clear as day, my grandfather standing in front of me. I smiled and started to cry.
Somehow I instinctively capital “K” knew he’d be there without knowing. During this journey experience he and I had conversations and I recognized that he had been actively guiding me from the other side for a long time. After the journey ended, I felt grateful for the chance to see him and inspired to know how connected we are even after he’s left his body.
Then, he kept coming. In meditations. In journeys. In dreams. We met often and had beautiful conversations. Often on a bench on the top of a hill overlooking a light filled valley. He was there when I met my spirit guides officially for the first time. He’s been there at many of my pivotal moments.
Fast forward to last month. The call came. It was my dad on the other side to let me know that my grandmother didn’t have much time. After taking a rough fall, lots of surgeries, and physical therapy, she just wasn’t bouncing back like she had in the past. Hospice had come to observe her and said they believed her time was short. Not even a week prior I had smelled her in my kitchen and knew her time was near.
I started receiving very strong messages from the other side about my grandma. It felt overwhelming because what I heard over and over again was not a message a granddaughter typically would share.
The message loud and clear, day in and day out, over and over again was, “it’s safe for her to transition” and that I was the one she was waiting for to hear this from.
When I first heard the message I literally shook my head. As if to shake the message out of my mind and lose it. It appeared in meditation. I was sure the message was being sent to the wrong receiver. Or that I heard it wrong. So I ignored it. And yet day in and day out as if someone was whispering directly to my heart with love I heard “it’s safe for her to transition” and knew she was waiting to receive this message from the other side.
When I showed up to visit her in Michigan with my family, I felt the weight of what I was carrying in my heart. This. Was. Important. Maybe, the most important thing I’ve ever done in my life.
During the days of our visit, my parents were kind enough to leave us alone together. Not because they knew what was happening for me. Rather because they thoughtfully thought we’d enjoy time together and I might be able to help my grandma feel calmer as she was experiencing a lot of anxiety during that time.
There were moments where I saw her beautiful shiny eyes peering back at me. I knew she was waiting. For me to say the thing. For me to share the messages. For me to give her the “permission” she wanted to hear from the other side. And to know that my grandpa was going to greet her. Every time I got scared. I feared her reaction. I feared I’d gotten it wrong. I wondered if people would blame me if she felt more anxious after the conversation. On the last day when she was looking back at me a lump in my throat grew, the message was waiting and I was holding it back with every ounce of my will. I got up, I kissed her forehead, I told her I loved her and I’d see her soon, and walked out of the room with my aunt.
As we hit the parking lot I started crying. The weight of not following through felt heavy. The regret I feared I might feel from not saying what wanted to be said bared down on me. I wondered if I’d let down all of the beings on the other side that had faith in me. Who was guiding me so skillfully to deliver this important message. I felt the yearning in her heart for the answers I came to give. And then I got in the car and left.
The nursing staff was sure she wouldn’t make it long. And she held on.
I knew she was holding on because she knew that I knew. She was waiting for me to say it.
As I returned to my life and pretended to un-know what I Know, I asked the Universe for someone else to deliver the message. I went deep into meditation and tried sending it in different ways. Maybe I’d misunderstood the idea that we were meant to have an actual conversation. The message...kept coming.
Then I contacted one of my mentors. Maybe I could send the message through someone else. Clearly it wasn't meant to be me. I kept fighting. I did everything in my power to get one of my mentors involved and my family, logistics, everything blocked her from getting involved. And so I knew. I knew this was mine.
One evening when I made my rounds calling the family phones my mom called back. “Did you see my message from this morning?” “No...I’ve been working intensely all day,” I said. I had just completed a day of lots of writing and creating for my women’s circle I lead. “It’s grandma, she’s really not doing well.” As my mom went on to give me an update something inside of me clicked. A dream I had the night before, clear as day, came full circle.
In the dream I found myself with my partner at my grandparent’s old house. It was night time and as I walked down the driveway to leave, I saw an old man sitting on a half wall with all of my cousins children surrounding him bundled up from the cold in coats. I smiled as I walked past like one does to a friendly neighbor and kept walking. Then something inside of me caused me to pause and I turned around. Meeting my eyes, surrounded by luminous pink light, was my grandfather. Smiling in a knowing sense of the way when our eyes met, we knew exactly why he was there. He was waiting for her. He was waiting for my grandma.
In the dream none of the other adults could see my grandfather. Only the children and myself. And in this moment of our eyes meeting, all felt well. I joyfully cried in release in my dream as I walked away. Cheering in my heart that I knew my grandmother was going home.
As the dream flashed before my eyes and I put two-and-two together...another message...grandpa came to tell me he’s waiting for my grandma...and she needs to know, I told my mom. She paused on the other side. “I think you need to contact your aunt right away. You need to see if you can talk to grandma.” She was right. It was time and I finally felt ready.
I texted my aunt who was back in Michigan with my grandma to check in and for some reason I felt moved to share the dream. She texted me right back and said, “call me when you can. I have to tell you what grandma said the other day.” As I picked up the phone to call, the ring on the other end, the first thing she said was “your message made the hair on my arms stand up.”
As it turned out, the day I had the dream my grandma had turned to my aunt and asked “what are all of those kids doing over there? With coats?” I smiled. She told my aunt to have them bring more pictures to hang up in her room, a sign that it was my cousins’ children since they all had been leaving pictures they’d drawn on her walls. And then she said, “where is dad? He’s supposed to come and get me.” At the time my aunt brushed off her words as side effects from the medication. Upon reading my texts, she knew something more true had transpired.
We both sat silent for a moment. That was it. I knew I had to speak to her. She was waiting for him and he came to tell me he’s waiting for her. She has to take the steps to the other side. She can’t keep waiting for him. After further conversation we agreed, if she was up for it, we’d arrange for me to speak with her the following day.
The next morning I rose early to go into meditation and contact my grandfather. I asked him if he could come to meet my grandmother to help her transition and his response was clear. “I can’t.” That wasn’t how it worked. She had to make the transition herself. It was her agency, not his, that needed to lead this process. He just wanted her to know that the second she stepped through he’d be on the other side to meet her. She was confused in her weak state and needed some guidance.
After finishing my breakfast my phone buzzed. It was my aunt. My grandma was awake and she was ready to talk. I hopped on the phone, asked how she was, recognizing my voice in her same cheerful sound she said “Hi Marci Lynn” the way she always called me. My aunt shut the door and I dived in. I shared my messages, I shared the dream with my grandfather, I told her that it was safe for her to go whenever she was ready. After some back and forth confirming what I was saying, I let her know that a bright light would appear and all she needed to do was to just let go into the light. On the other side she’d find my grandfather and be immersed in love. “Just follow the light,” I said, there was nothing to fear, to which she said…”I’m not scared.” I felt relieved. After some pause, she said “thank you Marci” and dozed off to sleep.
My aunt and I spoke softly closing the conversation together as she shared that a sigh of relief washed over my grandmother’s face upon the news of my messages. I knew that her falling asleep was a sign that she was finally at peace and the waiting was now over. She knew what she needed to know and I shared what needed to be shared.
Later that day my aunt texted to say that when my grandmother woke from sleep, she immediately started talking about the conversation. She asked my aunt to remind her of what I had shared any time she felt anxious. They agreed.
About 24-48 hours later, she took a turn for the worst. She became less responsive and started slipping fast. I knew she was finally letting go.
During this time I cleared my schedule of obligations and went into meditation. I lit a candle to hold vigil for her, connected to her in meditation, and sent her love. I reached out to all of my intuitive friends and mentors to ask them to do something similar in their own way. And for 48 hours in different variations my grandmother was sent love, healing, peace, and permission to go to the other side.
Saturday night when she was still hanging on something told me that it would be soon. On a full moon night I did special rituals: gathering water to charge in the full moonlight, cleansing my crystals and leaving them out to charge as well, and taking a vile of my favorite essential oil blend to be charged in the moonlight.
The next morning my body woke me early and I went into full moon ceremony. I made declarations around what the Universe was asking me to call in and worked with sacred symbols in a new way. It felt potent and unreserved. A distinct difference as someone who’s been “hiding” the magical and metaphysical side of myself for so long. Somehow, with my grandmother’s journey, I was finally starting to feel free.
As I got through making breakfast my dad texted me to call. Apparently I had missed his text messages and calls earlier that morning since my phone was on “do not disturb” while I was in meditation. My grandmother had left her body early that morning.
Upon hearing the news I now understood why I felt so strongly about waiting to do my full moon rituals until the next morning.
Somehow she and I knew that her passing would give me a new permission. A permission to own my gifts with my family. A permission to speak about my gifts more openly. And a permission to 100% be unafraid of who I’ve always been.
I know that she knew in a Spirit sense and maybe even in a human sense who I am and who is she. While there are so many conversations I wish we could have had in this human form face-to-face, I know that we are and will have the conversations I’ve always dreamed of.
Sunday night as I slept, I was awakened in the middle of the night. A bright light reflecting in the mirror of my room from the outside. So bright that it stirred me from sleep. As I stared into the light I heard a small voice inside of me say “grandma?” I sat up. Walking over to the window I opened the blinds to find a streetlamp that had always been there and never woken me up shining brightly back.
Many will say that I was more sensitive that night. Or the angle of the mirror was different. Or come up with a million reasons why an ordinary streetlamp that I’ve always seen stirred me from deep seat. The truth is, it doesn’t matter what people say because I Know what is true. I know it was a wink from my grandmother on the other side to let me know she’s here. I know she’s signaling that in the same way I’ve had connections with my grandfather, so will we.
I know this is just the beginning of my experience with the miracle of my grandmother’s life. I know this is just the starting point of my transformative experience with death. I hope that this transmission, this sharing, is a starting point for you.
A recognition of your own experiences in the past, or yet to come. A sense of hope that the other side is not scary, vengeful, or hateful. Rather, that the other side is loving, supportive, and only wanting our thriving.
The other side wants to stay connected to us and ancestors want to keep speaking.
People we’ve loved in the past that have since moved on continue to guide us on the other side whether we acknowledge it or not. Above all, I hope this story stirs in you a knowing, beyond your beliefs, beyond your limitations, that love is on the other side. It always has been. It always will be.
If your curious about more, we can schedule a time to chat HERE. And if you want to shift your relationship with death I recommend reading Dying to Be Me by Anita Moorjani and watching the beautiful Pixar film Coco as a start.
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