Speaking Your Truth
Very early on after Errol left his physical body behind, I made a conscious decision to pay attention to the language I used to talk about his passing. I noticed that the impact words had on my emotional well-being was considerable. Just to say the words ‘dead’ or ‘died’ in relation to Errol was like chewing nails. It grated on me at every level – physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Even though I knew very well that Errol is certainly not dead, it weighed on me to use those terms.
I am quite certain that most of you have a foundational belief that when the physical body stops functioning, the spirit continues in a much freer and more powerful capacity than can be contained in the material vehicles of our human bodies. Even though we believe that our departed beloved have moved to an experience that is infinitely better than the one they left behind, we get caught in a cultural expectation of mourning. I think that part of that trap is the language we use – sometimes unconsciously, and sometimes because we feel defeated by the expectations of those around us (I’m not referring to those closest to us, but of the general public).
For this discussion of vocabulary, I want to begin with a distinction that I see as foundational. In my mind, I have begun understanding the terms ‘mourning’ and ‘grieving’ as different experiences. To me, I see grief and grieving as the emotional impact of losing a significant relationship or experience. Mourning, to me, on the other hand, speaks to the sadness and regret that you might feel for the departed because they are no longer living the life they had led. To put it more simply, I think we grieve a loss while we mourn a death. That distinction has led me to a great deal of freedom. I do experience grief – I miss Errol and the precious souls who preceded him from this realm, but I no longer mourn. Shortly following Errol’s passing, it was hard not to be very sad – even despondent over all that I thought Errol was missing. When someone leaves this Earth young, we can feel that it was “before their time” and that they didn’t get to do or experience so many things – but wait… think about that. Consider where and how we know them to be – I am sure they aren’t experiencing any regret or sadness for the Earthly experiences they may not have had while they were here; in fact, I am sure they are having all of those experiences and many more – without the accompanying agonizing events they would have to endure, were they still here.
After recognizing that powerful distinction and realizing the significant impact words can have on the way we experience things, I began focusing on how I wanted to express myself in every situation to reflect my beliefs rather than conform to cultural norms or to expedite communication with others. I owe it to myself to speak my Truth by using a vocabulary that reflects it as accurately as I can manage. I no longer use nor accept the use of the term ‘dead’. I respectfully explain that I don’t believe that we are even capable of dying. We pass from this world/realm/experience into a greater one. Once I began exploring, I found that many people have begun using many more accurate terms which include transition, graduation, evolution, transcending, and passing. These all hold a much greater fidelity to the glorious transformation we know our loved ones have embraced.
The term ‘lose’ also sits uncomfortably with me. I didn’t lose Errol – he isn’t lost or misplaced. I have a pretty good idea where he is, and I continue to experience him in a new way. What I have lost is my physical relationship with him. I have lost the ability to hug him, to hear his laughter, to see his smile, and to inhale his unique personal scent. I have lost my ability to have the relationship with him and the other loved ones who have passed that I used to have, but I haven’t lost them. Now I have tipped the phraseology just a bit and say, “I have lost the ability to have a physical relationship” with those who have passed.
These things may seem small to you, and if they are, that is fabulous. I’m not asking anyone to make changes to their vocabulary to appease me or my sensitivities. I respect the path that each person takes as being unique to them and wouldn’t change it for the world. If it isn’t broken – it doesn’t need fixing. It is for those of you who feel a little pang each time you use a word that doesn’t resonate with your beliefs. It is you I encourage to listen to the nagging discomfort, discover what it is trying to tell you, and be faithful to your own Truth by making a conscious decision to speak your Truth more accurately.