I’ve come across my fair share of “insensitive” folk in my life when I have been dealing with death or the loss of a relationship. Here are my top tips and reasons for them, to assist others who are struggling with life’s inevitable losses and challenges.
By Michele Dowling.
More photos of Pfer, and her story can be purchased at PferPig
Pfer pig lived on a farm with many other animals. She loved them and always considered them “family”, although they always made fun of her because she was a P I G and pigs were known for being lazy, dirty and dumb.
Most of her days were spent eating, rolling around in her favourite mud hole and then sleeping in the sun and she was happy but lately when she slept her dreams were not peaceful, they were upsetting. She would often see large orange flames licking at the walls of the barn, her snout and eyes would burn from the heat, she found it hard to breathe and see because of all the smoke and she would wake herself up squealing “danger, fire” as loud as she could, only to see all the other animals laughing at her.
She didn’t like it when they laughed at her, or when the old rooster grumbled at her, telling her to stop being so silly and go back to sleep. One night though, a fire really did break out in the barn and if it weren’t for Pfer squealing loudly the horses never would have woken and kicked down the barn doors, waking all the other animals up which allowed them to escape the inferno.
From that day on Pfer was thought of as a hero and all the animals treated her differently. They no longer laughed or grumbled at her. Nor did they think her and her dreams were silly, instead they respected her and neither she nor the other animals ever doubted her dreams again.
© Story & Image Michele Dowling & Cheryl O’Connor February 2017 – all rights reserved. This story and associated image/s may not be reproduced in any way without the express written consent of Michele or Cheryl who can be contacted via Cheoco Enterprises, Old Petrie Town, Whiteside, Queensland, Australia. Ph: 0423 663 520. Email: email@example.com. Website: www.cheocoenterprises.com
Seven months in fact since I last shared anything here. As you can see by just a few pics which in no way shows all that I have been creating, I haven’t been twiddling my thumbs.
John Lennon once said,”life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans.”
My life is pretty much as he described. I have many good intentions to do this or that, and even write down seemingly endless to-do lists, whilst being extremely efficient in prioritising and time management, but I learnt long ago that plans rarely if ever, go according to plan and that seriously there just does not seem to be enough hours in a day to do all I would like to achieve.
Since I last wrote I cannot even begin to remember all that has occurred, I just know I have been extremely productive, have been learning heaps, have been through a few processes as well as am consistently fine-tuning my business – Cheoco Enterprises and now here we are well into the second month of 2017! I am presently working on a re-vamp of the website which you can view at www.cheocoenterprises.com. I have also been working on winter stock for my shop at Old Petrie Town throughout the heat of summer.
I’m presently studying again – a Cert IV in Business Management and this year I am facilitating Active Dreaming Circles in two venues. Womenspace at Sandgate – which I do on a voluntary basis, and Wantok Multicultural Centre in Old Petrie Town. I am also facilitating New Moon Drumming Circles at Womenspace, in a voluntary capacity.
If you would like to attend either of those events Womenspace has them listed in their Events Section on their FB Page and I believe on their website. The next New Moon Drumming Circle and as I understand it, the only one on the north side of Brisbane, is being held on the 27th of February starting at 7.00 pm and running until 8.00pm. Cost for non-members is $5 and members are free.
In relation to the Active Dreaming Circles, the next two of which are being held on the 14th of March at Womenspace and the 15th of March at Wantok, from 7pm to 8pm in both venues, you are invited to join me in a safe and respectful environment where we will be looking at and working with how we can:
- Make sense of the weirdness of our dreams.
- Use the world around us as our own personal map.
- Create our very own encyclopaedia of dream symbols and their specific meaning to us.
- Face the fears of nightmares & empower ourselves.
- Learn the language of dreams.
- Tap into our creativity using our dreams.
- Strengthen our intuition via our dreams.
- Incubate a dream for guidance.
- Clear subconscious blockages which keep us feeling stuck.
From the moment we come into this world Death is the one constant companion we have who walks with us, along with our intuition, faith, trust and courage.
Yet we fear and fight death, why?
Is it because we think it is “the end” of us?
Is it because generally speaking our western culture hides the dying and death away from us?
Is it because our western medical system is geared to save life regardless of the pain and suffering another may be enduring which is often just lengthened by way of experiments, surgeries and the like? Granted there are some treatments and surgeries that do save lives but there are also many situations where a person is just treated like a medical experiment and kept alive only long enough to be of scientific value and research use. (I am speaking from first-hand experience with that particular issue having watched what occurred and was inflicted on my Dad for what seemed like two very long weeks, whilst he was dying.)
Is it because we have become so attached to the physical world we don’t want to leave?
Is it because we have become so dependent on another we don’t believe we can live without them?
Or is it simply due to fear of the unknown?
Whatever the reasons are that we fear death, battle it and do not just accept that it is an intrinsic part of being born, I don’t see any of it is as being really very healthy.
Many of us during the course of our life have folk come into our lives for however long they need to be in our lives and then they leave either by way of us and them just getting on with life, irreconcilable disagreement, mutual agreement or death. Sometimes we grieve the loss, however it may occur, other times we are glad to see the back of them. We even grieve the loss of well-known folk who we personally do not know. The standard norm however is considered to be that we are born, live to a ripe old age and when our bodies are worn out and we are old we “die”. This however is not factual.
Death occurs at any stage of life, some folk die earlier than others and we have this in built conditioning which seems to me to think that unless we are of a ripe old age that anyone who dies under a certain age is “too young to die” or that it is a tragedy when folk die. We speak of poor lost souls who perish in natural “disasters” and accidents that occur. How do we know they are lost?
Some of us never get over the death of another who has been an integral part of our life or are totally lost ourselves when another leaves our physical reality by way of death. Often when well-known celebrities who have lived full and vibrant lives are dying many start praying for them, leaving messages on social media for them to keep fighting. Our media speaks of folk losing battles long or short against cancer and other dis-eases. Humans never have, nor will ever be in control of death or birth as much as we may try. When our time is up, it’s up. It really is that simple.
Many say it is morbid to think about death and it seems to me in our western culture we are not at all very well prepared to face our own death or that of loved ones when the time comes. Yet we are all dying, we are all born to die and realistically we have no clue when the moment of physical death will occur. It is quite literally only a breath or a heartbeat away. When you live with the total conscious awareness that death could occur for you at any moment or those you love, you live an entirely different life to someone who perceives that when they or their loved ones get old only then will they die.
Many who are told by doctors they only have x amount of time to live actually begin to live for perhaps the first time in their lives. They think what the heck, I may as well do whatever it is they have held off doing, because now I know I am going to die, yet we all know all along we are going to die at some point in our lives. It’s not the best analogy but it’s kind of like Christmas, we all know it’s coming, yet we race around like lunatics just prior to it occurring to get ourselves organised for it.
I feel very blessed as I see death differently to most I know, simply because I am no stranger to it. My first encounter occurred when I was 12 and it was at that time I just knew people’s grief (including my own) was more about what folk had lost, not done, felt guilty about, regretted etc., than it was about what the person who had passed on had gained, particularly if they were suffering from physical illness, dis-ease and pain. As a child, one of my favourite places to play was the cemetery just up the road from where I lived. It was peace full there and I often kept company with the snakes who curled up on the cement, seeking warmth, which covered the tops of the graves.
Even to this day it is not uncommon for me to be drawn to cemeteries and to just wander around, reading the gravestones that stand as monuments to another’s life – long, short or somewhere in between. It is still one of the most peace full places for me to go to as often there are not many folk around and it is a place that always puts my life and all things into their true perspective for me whilst always reminding me just how short and precious life in a physical body truly is.
My next up close and personal encounter with death came whilst only feeding my body small amounts of food and large amounts of drugs, alcohol and cigarettes when I was about 15. It was only the mutual love between myself and another which saved me on that occasion and kept me here.
Death paid me another visit at 17 when whilst knocked totally unconscious as the result of what I later found out was a fatal car accident, I was experiencing what we call a dream. I was in what I now know to be a parallel reality where the sun was shining and I was having a picnic with the person who I later discovered had passed away. It was beautiful, joyous, loving and peaceful and I was resting with my back against a tree, until our dog ran into the bush and I started calling out to him. My calling out became so loud it brought me back into this physical reality and as I opened my eyes I saw the horror of that car accident and the injuries I had received during it. I was also sitting against a tree, the exact same bushland around me as I had seen in the “dreaming” experience and what had been glorious weather in the “dream” was in this reality torrential rain. Our dog was also nowhere to be seen.
As I processed that event much later I just knew deep within me that “if” I had of been killed as well, I wouldn’t have felt a thing. There would have been no pain whatsoever for my consciousness had clearly left my body just prior to impact – my last memory before the “dreaming experience” having been seeing windscreen wipers moving across the glass in front of me. The pain of my many injuries only came when I became conscious of this physical reality again.
At 28 Death came calling once more as my body was shutting down from life threatening illness and during the next 10 years much “died” within me as I began to consciously walk the path of the Shaman. Death was also very present in my awareness when I was pregnant with my son at 36 and whilst I was birthing him, then later when he was roughly two and experienced Whooping Cough. Often throughout my life so-called dead folk would visit me in what we call “dreams” and “visions” and also by way of “weird” stuff that occurred in this physical reality. They still do.
I also became aware of many deaths that had occurred for me during what we call past lives. I re-lived being guillotined, hung, burnt, stabbed, eaten by a crocodile, murdered many times and in every possible way death can occur, drowned, being tortured, thrown down a well and my neck was broken and on it went. In one experience instead of trying to run from death in fear I just stood in the experience fully and said to myself, this is it – I am going to die. With that total acceptance and absolutely no fear any longer in relation to death my consciousness was back in my physical body and I truly “got it” that the essence of me just never ever dies. I have to say that was, at the time, THE most empowering experience I’d had.
When my Grandfather passed on, for the first time in my life I saw a “dead” body. All that was left was a container, like an empty cocoon. Who I knew my Grandfather to be was no longer present. The body was stiff, solid and cold due to freezer type refrigeration. This body I looked at and touched was just not him at all. It did not even really look like him.
Many say it is morbid to think or talk about death, many will not even discuss it preferring to state “if something happens to me” rather than stating “if I die or when I die” and it seems to me in our western culture we are not at all well prepared to face our own death or that of our loved ones when the time comes.
I visited the Land of the Dead recently and it was a very beautiful experience where I interacted with many friends and family who have passed on. As with all families and during our life many folk have left my life and I was astounded to find them all waiting for me when I did this journey. It is also a journey that can be done by anyone, which I facilitate.
Death again visited me up close and personal yesterday, which is what has prompted this article and during that visit it became clear to me that there is only one aspect of my life story right here and right now as it stands that I don’t feel a sense of 100% peace about – a mission I set out to achieve for myself some 23 years ago. I feel extremely grateful that there is only one aspect and not as many as there were back then. As I conversed with Death in this experience it also became clear to me that hopefully with a little help from the Spirits this one aspect can be put right before I do leave this body because I really don’t want to be carrying that one with me.
My experiences have shown me time and again that whatever we do not have full peace, acceptance and love about within us when we leave, we just take with us and yep it would appear to me that it is a case of well too bad, so sad you just have to come back again to deal with it. We also take the love we feel for others with us, it doesn’t just “die” when a body dies, just as it doesn’t die within us for those we have loved who have passed on. It is often the case those who have passed on have messages and guidance for us which they try to give us but even though we miss them we find it creepy, weird, spooky and we fear actually communicating with them ourselves, often preferring instead to have a third person tell us what another is trying to communicate to us. We didn’t fear them, usually, whilst they lived in a body so why do we fear them just because they no longer exist in a body?
For myself there is no separation between the physical and non-physical realities which exist. Where I will go when I leave this body my mother named Cheryl I have no clue for I do not believe there is a Heaven as such, nor a Hell, except for within ourselves. It has been my experience that with our free will we either create Heaven or Hell in this physical reality and as John Lennon once said “Imagine there’s no Heaven, it’s easy if you try. No Hell below us, above us only sky”. I therefore have no expectations of what will occur when I leave this body and so I am totally open to the adventure of it all. What I do have though is abundant faith and trust plus good navigational skills in The Dreaming and I know that a part of me knows way better than my logic does, my logic being so very limited in this physical reality. I also know that the part of me that does know will kick in and do whatever it needs to do when the time comes.
So that all said how do we all better prepare ourselves for the inevitability of facing and accepting Death’s constant presence as it walks inside and beside us in the shadows, instead of fearing Death and not truly living?
In dreaming, every single night, whether we have memory of it the next morning or not, we leave our bodies and go travelling, connecting and interacting with the Souls of folk we know and yep even those we don’t know and by some miracle we awake each morning in the body we left resting in our bed or wherever we slept. Given some of the dreaming experiences I have, to me that in itself is miraculous that I find my way back into my body each morning. When we wake we are blessed with another day of life in a physical body. It is a gift, not a given. It is also a gift so very many of us take for granted and don’t even give thanks for.
We even do this when we nana nap, power nap, meditate etc., for we have absolutely no awareness of our physical bodies when in that fully altered state of consciousness. Many also have no awareness even of that altered state of consciousness. Yet it is so very healing and powerful and it is a space, if you like to think of it that way, which is full of insight, abundance, truth, guidance and wisdom. During the night our body has miraculously kept our heart beating and our lungs breathing. So at some part of us we know it is perfectly fine and safe to leave our bodies and that we will be okay. True we may not be conscious of that, but I sense that deep down we just know it. Often too if we are feeling threatened in any way, either in the dreaming realities or in this physical reality, we will slam back into the body ready to take action. The dreaming body/soul/astral body are intrinsically linked it would seem to the physical body and its reactions for how often do we wake from a scary dream heart pounding or an emotional dream with tears in our eyes?
It is said that there is no better preparation for death than being a conscious dreamer and well….. I have to agree. For most of us travellers who are conscious dreamers, we are aware of the multiverse and parallel realities, we learn the territory away from the confines of the physical body quite well, the more we practice it like anything the better we get at it and we also learn how to navigate our way around in that territory. We “know” without a shadow of doubt that we exist beyond the physical body.
To become a conscious dreamer and be better prepared for our own deaths, we need to firstly pay attention to whatever snippets of memory, be it images or feelings we have upon waking in our bodies of a morning. The more we welcome, honour and act on our dreaming experiences, the more we receive them, the more we receive them, the more conscious we become of them, the more conscious we become of them, the less fear we experience not only in our physical reality but also in the dreaming realities of the multiverse, parallel realities, spirit worlds etc.
The biggest fear I sense most have is the fear of death and yet the irony of that is when we no longer fear death, we actually truly begin to live. For some of us perhaps for the first time ever. My mum, bless her has always said to me “You live like there is no tomorrow” and for me no there is no tomorrow ever for I have had way too many encounters with Death to not know I and those I love could be physically gone in an instant, so for me there is only ever each moment of now.
There is a Native American expression I very much love – “It’s a good day to die” (meaning that there are no regrets, there is nothing left unsaid or undone and that there is peace within). We use the term RIP when another passes on but how much better would it be do you think if we all lived in peace instead of waiting until we die to rest in peace ? I know for myself I have done and do all I can every single day to make every day a good day to die – how about you?
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© Cheryl O’Connor 2014.
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We all know children do not come with instructions and that we receive no prior “training” in order to become a parent yet for any other job or activity we undertake there is a period of learning before we are deemed “qualified”. It is very much a learn as you go experience and no-one can really tell you how to do what ultimately becomes the biggest task in your life, nurturing, being responsible for, guiding and teaching another person to an age and a stage where they can and do look after themselves totally and are totally responsible for themselves and their lives.
In times gone past a tribe would be involved in the upbringing of the young ones, then we moved to large family units being involved in their raising but more and more over time we have moved to the reality of just one or perhaps two people taking on this mammoth task of raising young folk and for many who are in pursuit of obtaining adequate housing and lifestyle that is in keeping with the “societal” standard more and more parents are working full time, mostly to pay off debt they incur to live the societal lifestyle standard, whilst leaving their child in another’s care who they do not really know but who has apparently received adequate training in caring for children.
It has me a bit baffled that in order to leave a child in another’s care in day care centres those others have to undergo a lot of training, cannot turn up to work drunk, cannot be abusive emotionally, mentally, physically or sexually, and yet we parents undergo absolutely no such training, nor do we have to meet such criteria. Our training is usually on the job, in the moment learning.
For others such as single parents it is also often the case that they simply must work in order to keep a roof over their and their children’s heads, clothes on everyone’s back, pay the bills and have food on the table.
It’s a huge task being a parent, often tiring and often stressful as we juggle work and family commitments all the time just winging it as we go. We all do the best we can with the awareness we have at any given time and really cannot expect much more than that from ourselves, given our lack of preparedness and training for the job.
Many children, like myself, grew up in environments where alcohol abuse, used as a medicine for coping with whatever stresses were being experienced, was common. We also grew up in an era where copping a flogging was the norm, being told not to behave in certain ways when we got angry, thereby squashing down our emotions or were projected onto by unresolved issues our parents had etc., and today much of what we grew up with would be considered child abuse.
Many of us grew up with wounds being inflicted upon us by our parents behaviour and lack of self-awareness, lack of ability to cope and in dysfunctional families, and many children still are growing up in similar environments being yelled at, put down, living with alcohol or drug addicted or abusive adults, being treated in ways that no doubt are creating wounds for them and forming patterns of behaviour which their parents are handing down to them, just as those who came before them have unconsciously done.
For myself the most mammoth task of parenting came when I would say or do things and think oohh my goodness that is not me, not really, that is my mother. My first born was a catalyst for me to become aware of and heal many wounds that had been inflicted on me as a child and for that I will always be ever so grateful to her. In the process though there were wounds unconsciously inflicted on her by me as I juggled full time work, often getting up at 3.30am and not getting back to bed until 9 – 10 o’clock at night. I was not in a position for several years where I could just not work, it was a necessity to our survival and yes it was exhausting. The only support available to me at the time was that provided by the day care centre she attended and some assistance from my own grandparents. For myself I have been working full time 90% of the time since I was a young teenager.
I was not the type of mother who would leave my child and later children on their own and go out clubbing or pubbing. I did not bring an endless stream of men home nor did I drink alcohol or wipe myself out on drugs. My child/children have always lived in nice, clean, lovely homes, always been well dressed, never gone without a meal or anything they have really needed. Luxuries have never really existed and there are many things I would have liked to have done for them or with them but just had no money or time to do those but yes good budget management has no doubt been learned along with many other necessary skills. There has been the odd holiday here or there locally but for the most part the past 25 years of my life, being an 80% of the time solo parent, has been devoted to raising two children whilst doing all that needs doing at home as well as working mostly full time with just the odd break to that here and there. Was I a perfect mother, far from it and I never will be.
I spent 10 years in and out of depression and on a mammoth journey to rid myself of all that was no longer serving me or making me happy, whilst going through what is known as a Spiritual Crisis. I worked solidly on healing the wounds which had been inflicted on me by my parents – abandonment, abuse, alcoholism and essentially I did the very best I could do given my situation and my need to be responsible for myself and my child/children, just as my parents had done before me. It wasn’t until I stopped focussing on the self indulgent hard done by mentality and started digging into my parents stories that I uncovered the why of how they had behaved towards me. I came to realise, with age, that no matter what a parent does for a child, teaches a child to do for themselves, no childhood is EVER going to be perfectly how we as children would like it to be.
I am 50 now, still raising one child on my own and I have two grand-daughters. For the past two years since a work contract ended I have been working my butt off, often up to 18 hours a day, 7 days a week to study so I have the mainstream qualifications necessary to tie up in a neat bow that which I love to do whilst also establishing a business out of what I love to do, not just doing any longer what I have felt I have needed to do to survive since I walked out of home at 14. My whole parental life has been a situation of my children are part of my life but they are not my whole entire life as I saw ever so many women whilst I was growing up who made their children their entire life and then once the children had left the nest, as children rightly do, they were lost and had no sense of identity other than being someone’s Mum.
One of the greatest gifts given to me on this journey was seeing how patterns of behaviour have been passed down through the generations and how at some point in every child’s life it is a totally necessary part of growing up and taking responsibility for themselves that they do whatever is needed to also heal the wounds their parents unconsciously inflicted on them and learn to totally stand on their own two feet. That they cease to blame or accuse their parent/s for whatever they feel or think the parent has or hasn’t done which is not to their liking.
It is said children choose us, we do not choose them and from my experiences with my children that was very much the situation. Children come through us, they do not belong to us. We give them the gift of life out of love, what they ultimately do with that life is entirely up to them but there must come a point in all our lives where we stop attacking, blaming and getting our knickers in a twist because our parents didn’t or don’t do what we believe as children or even as adults they “should” do now or should have done way back when, or what we expect them to do. We all at some stage reach the point where we simply have to start parenting ourselves. When we love others, truly love them, we have no expectations of them. We don’t chuck hissy fits at them, nor do we ignore them or be rude to them simply because they are not doing what we think they should be doing or what we want them to do.
Many children these days seem to expect that their parents, after they have raised them and they have children of their own should be there to constantly offer support and guidance and to look after grand-children whilst they go off and do whatever. Guess what kiddies, many of us grandparents are tired having raised our own families and whilst many of us dearly love our grandchildren and enjoy spending time with them, we have reached an age where we also enjoy our quiet time, when we can get it.
We don’t have the energy we once had nor do we much have the tolerance for noise we used to have. Life moves, finally, at a bit of a slower pace for us and we have learnt the hard way that having expectations of anyone is just a recipe for heartache and disappointment. We can no longer be bothered engaging ourselves in the dramas of youth either with your relationship issues and we live very much in the moment of now for we know there truly is no guarantee of tomorrow for any of us. We’ve learnt that whilst having goals is essential if we are to create and achieve what we would like to experience in life, it is futile making set in cement plans. Plans rarely ever turn out how we plan and so we move more easily in the flow of life rather than constantly battling with that flow. Our emotional life has become much more stable, we don’t suffer the highs and lows that we did like a pendulum at full pelt swinging from one extreme to another at a younger age and if things pan out according to skeletal plans made they do, if they don’t we don’t get in a fluster about any of it much anymore.
We all come here to learn and grow, not to have everyone do what we think they should do. We come here to experience ever so much and we cannot ever expect that one person is going to be able to give us all we need. As I have always said to my two – you have one father and mother but if you are really lucky you will meet many who will fulfil the gaps in those roles because neither I nor your father will EVER be able to give you all you need or want.
So regardless of our ages if we haven’t yet healed our parental wounds we are still acting out of them with barriers and defence mechanisms and having re-actions rather than responses towards our parents and also towards others. We all have them, there is no escaping them but ultimately at the end of the day it is OUR responsibility to heal them, not our parent’s responsibility to do that for us, nor can we blame them for what we think or feel, nor the lessons we have chosen to come here and learn which they have so beautifully provided for us to learn by giving us the ultimate gift, the gift of life.
Copyright C. O’Connor 2014.
Image sourced from Pixabay.
* Cognitive & Body Based Counselling.
* Creative & Artistic Therapies.
* Specialising in #Dream #Analysis/#Conscious #Dreaming & #Shamanic Journeying.
* #Reiki/#Seichim Treatments & Attunements.
* Isis #Meditation.
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Twitter: Cheryl O’Connor@Cheoco99