Celebration of Life

Every summer my community compiles a Celebration of Life list — in one column, all of the births and in another all of the deaths. I’ve always loved that it celebrates the start of life and the completion of life equally and acknowledges that there can be joy in both.

I say this because, connection doesn’t end when someone dies. In some ways, the connection becomes stronger than ever. The nature of the relationship changes when someone is no longer in an earthly body and this requires a period of grieving and adjustment. The way in which we relate to that person changes.

Instead of walking into the kitchen and seeing your loved one there or picking up the phone to call, we discover new ways to connect. Often they are less tangible — a feeling, a sign, a memory.

 Image by  Kerstin Ax

Image by Kerstin Ax

I interject when I hear the phrase “I’ve lost so-and-so,” in conversation There’s no loss — only a shift. Those Spirits find news ways to communicate with us. Each of us receives those messages in our own way. Many of my dead loved ones embrace birds as symbols to remind me they’re around.

Hummingbirds and cardinals signify that my grandma is checking in on me. Hawks, especially during long drives, feel like a wave of acknowledgement from a childhood friend. Herons, in all their majesty, evoke a feeling of comfort as though my entire lineage is signaling that all is well.

This summer hummingbirds are cropping up everywhere. Everywhere! One greets me each morning at my lavender bushes drinking in the sweet nectar of the flowers while I sip my tea. Carved hummingbirds pop up in store windows and in the homes of friends. Others zip by the windows of friends’ homes while we’re inside engulfed with laughter over a good meal. Each sighting a nod that I am loved.

I relish these greetings — these little living love notes. They remind me that our connections live on long after our bodies retire. How do you feel the connection with your loved ones who have died? Are particular signs popping up for you?

Adapted from Instagram.