When we lose a loved one, it is said that grief comes in waves. Some days the waves are small and gentle, and other days, they can be powerful tsunamis of feeling. Times of transition can bring especially powerful feelings of loss and grief. Have you ever heard the saying that sharing grief cuts it in half? During times of transition, reaching out to our loved ones who have passed, can help cut the grief in half because we are sharing those times with them.

Many people focus on weddings and big events and think those are going to be the hardest times when they’ll miss their loved ones the most. But often it is the feelings that come with the smaller events that hit us hardest. Sometimes those are the ones we are not prepared for.

In the fall, the start of a new school year is very hard for families who have recently lost someone. “My mother used to walk my son to school every day. I can’t bear the idea that she’s not here to walk him to school anymore.” I hear things like that a lot. Social media has a way of reminding us where we were five years ago or two years ago, and if those reminders come with a picture of someone who is no longer here sharing a special event, that can be very painful.

There are ways to help ease that pain by including loved ones in Heaven in your special times. If your mom used to walk to school with your child, find something special to serve as a symbol or reminder of her -a favorite photo or trinket. You can put it on your child’s backpack or inside a pocket as a reminder that your mom is still there. When the school celebrates grandparents day, take a picture of grandma and encourage your child to tell stories of wonderful memories with their beloved grandparent.

Your loved ones want to connect with you during transitions. These times that are special for you are special for them too. A woman wrote to me recently to tell me about her son starting university this fall. “His grandfather would be so proud of him,” she told me. “My son is the first grandchild, and my father loved him so much.” Her son had been accepted to a prestigious university and was waiting for his dorm room assignment. “My son was so worried he would get a room with three roommates,” she told me. “He is introverted, and he likes to have space to himself to compose music and solve complicated equations. I was worried about how he would handle having roommates.” On her father’s birthday, the whole family was feeling sad, missing the man they all loved. That afternoon, her son got an email telling him he had been assigned a single room. No roommates. “We were so happy,” she said. “I told my son, that’s your grandfather’s doing. He made that happen for you.” She realized her father was with them all, and their grief was cut in half.

Big shifts in our lives, transitions, special events, new beginnings are often the times when our loved ones send the strongest signals. Just as they want to help us cope in the difficult times, our loved ones want to be with us to celebrate our joy. When you are facing a transition, and someone is missing, bring that person into the mix with a picture, a special object, a piece of clothing or even a ritual that reminds you, and reminds them, that you know they are always with you.

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