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The Key to Overcoming Grief

Posted on 26 February 2018, 15:15

As I understand it, today’s “grief counselors” encourage people to get over their grief from losing a loved one by putting the past behind them and living in the present.  Less nicely put, it means pretty much forgetting the loved one as quickly as possible and getting on with life. Based on my survey of a number of websites dealing with grief counseling, the survival of the deceased loved one in another realm of existence is a taboo subject.  If the grieving person brings it up, he or she should be referred to his or her pastor for guidance.  But the “heaven” of orthodoxy usually seems more like a punishment than a reward, at most a very boring fantasy land, so that does little to mitigate the grief. 

Over some 80-plus years, I have seen many friends and relatives struggle with the grief that follows the death of a loved one, and it is not nearly as simple as the mental health “experts” who make up the grief counseling rules seem to want to make it. Underlying the grief of nearly all of those in deep despair at the loss of a loved one is what author August Goforth calls an “existential bleakness” – the inability to find any real meaning in death…or in life.  Moreover, living in the present, as the grief counselors advise, so often unfolds as hedonism – eat, drink, and be merry. It involves escaping into seemingly meaningless and mundane activities in order to overcome it all and move on. 

Goforth’s recently released book, The Risen: A Companion to Grief, opposes the mainstream approach of avoiding talk about the survival of our loved ones.  “Achieving awareness of our immortality will lift our minds above the temporary chaos of humankind and connect us with a greater reality that is infinite, and which means there is no final ending,” he explains, going on to say that we should be able to find comfort with grief rather than from it. 

In addition to being a New York psychotherapist, Goforth is also an intuitive-mental and psychophysical spirit medium who knows with certainty that this life is a small part of a much larger life and that we will be reunited with out loved ones again.  There is no reason to bury them in the deep recesses of our mind as garden variety mental health experts would have us do.  Once we have the conviction that we will see them again, we can overcome the grief by embracing them rather than by forgetting them.

After reading Goforth’s 2009 book, The Risen, I had the opportunity to interview him for a publication I then edited.  He informed me that Timothy Gray, a co-author of that earlier book as well as this book, was a New York City writer, editor and photographer who transitioned to the spirit world during the early 1990s, and then, about two years after his physical death, began communicating with him, providing his own experiences in the afterlife as well as information given to him by “The Risen Collective,” a group of more advanced spirit entities who use Timothy Gray to relay information to Goforth.

As Goforth explains it, the members of the Risen Collective once lived on this Earth and much of what they advise comes from emotional states they experienced when incarnate as well as from emotional insights they have discovered in their present state of existence. As they see it, grief is not a problem to be solved; rather, it is a doorway that is meant to be passed through.  The key to getting through that doorway, Goforth says, is to surrender. 

“Surrender is getting into a neutral zone after letting negative momentum subside,” he further explains.  “Once in the neutral zone – or mid-pendulum – we can begin to consciously choose to raise our vibration higher and higher by looking for better ways to use our mind, such as focusing on the miraculous fact that our Risen Loved Ones are still alive and moving about in ways that are certain to overwhelm but then soothe our old ways of thinking.” 

A message that has come through many mediums over the years is stressed by The Risen.  That is, our grief is disturbing to our discarnate loved ones.  “If we continue to feed our grief and maintain limiting beliefs about it, the resulting feeling will reach out and connect to our Risen Loved One but in discomforting ways – usually by exerting a feeling of pulling them back to the Earth,” Goforth offers.  “This pulling feels shadowy and substandard to them because the Earth is no longer their natural habitat.” 

The Foreword of Goforth’s book includes a short story from a 1918 book, The Light Beyond, by Maurice Maeterlinck, a Belgian playwright, poet, and essayist who won the 1911 Nobel Prize in literature.  He told of visiting an old friend, a widowed woman, who had lost her son in one of the battles of the Great War.  He hesitated as he knocked on her door, expecting to find his friend in a state of hopeless grief and impervious to any words of comfort that he might attempt to offer. “To my great astonishment, she handed me her hand with a kindly smile,” Maeterlinck wrote. “Her eyes, to which I hardly dared raise my own, were free of tears.”

The old friend continued the reunion in a cheerful tone, and it seemed to Maeterlinck that her voice had grown younger.  Maerterlinck said that he had heard of her sorrow and was about to offer his condolences when the friend interrupted him and said that “he is not dead.”  Confused, Maerterlinck sought clarification.  The old friend showed him a picture of her son’s grave and went on to explain that she had been in communication with her son since his battlefield death. 

“Yes, his body is over there; and I have even a photograph of the grave.  Let me show it to you,” the old friend continued.  “See that fourth cross on the left, that fourth cross; that is where he is lying.  One of his friends, who buried him, sent me this card and gave me all the details.  He suffered no pain.  There was not even a death struggle. And he has told me so himself. He is quite astonished that death should be so easy, so slight a thing.”

The old friend noticed the puzzled look on Maerterlink’s face and said she had assumed he would understand, since he had written extensively on the evidence for survival and spirit communication, his 1913 book, Our Eternity, which has become a classic in the field of survival, consciousness, psychic phenomena, and mysticism. “I do not explain the matter to the others,” she went on.  “What would be the use? They do not wish to understand.  But you, you will understand.  He is more alive than he ever was; he is free and happy.  He does just as he likes.  He tells me that one cannot imagine what a release death is, what a weight it removes from you, nor the joy which it brings.  He comes to see me when I call him. He loves, especially, to come in the evening; and we chat as we used to.  He has not altered; he is just as he was on the day he went away, only younger, stronger, handsomer.  We have never been happier, more united, nearer to one another. He divines my thoughts before I utter them.  He knows everything; he sees everything; but he cannot tell me everything he knows. He maintains that I must be wanting to follow him and that I must wait for my hour. And, while I wait, we are living in a happiness greater than that which was ours before the war, a happiness which nothing can ever trouble again.”

Maeterlinck understood completely.  His surprise had to do with the fact that his old friend had so perfectly converted and adjusted to his way of thinking.  His sympathy now took on a different form. “Those about her pitied the poor woman; and, as she did not weep, as she was gay and smiling, they believed her mad.”

Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife, and Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I.

Next blog post:  March 12





I love the story about Maeterlinck’s friend.

Like Jon, I felt happy and relieved for my mother when she died last year, at the same age as Jon’s dad.  She had been able to clearly express being ready and at peace.  And as she was going through the process of dying, I was easily able to perceive it when she extricated herself from her body and know that while her body was going through so much difficulty she was not experiencing any of that.

Although I am not a very strong medium, I am intensely grateful to be able to perceive such things to the extent that I do.  Many of us wonder, while some of us simply know.

Elene, Sat 7 Apr, 07:30

Within the last few years both of my parents and my brother have passed over. None of this affected me much because I am absolutely certain that they are OK, just moved. By the time of my father’s death, I was informed enough to conspire with the undertaker to allow him time to vacate his body. An interesting side to this, and a support at those times, was discovering that my brother’s wife felt the same way, and has had more concrete other-world contacts than I have.

Michael D, Wed 28 Feb, 13:52


Thank you for another thought-provoking article.

Given that my father passed away three weeks ago I feel I can share some current thoughts about grief.

I feel happy and relieved for my father, and I’m reflecting on the life he had and my relationship with him. He was 92 years old and had become incapacitated after having a stroke three years ago. I feel it was definitely his time to go. Whether he felt same way I don’t know.

Interestingly, the hardest thing is expressing that feeling to others. Concerned friends look at me with glum faces and offer condolences, which I really do appreciate, but I find myself trying to explain to them how I feel without appearing to not care about him, because I do care about him.

A friend said to me after the funeral, “Given your beliefs are you okay about your dad’s death?” I thought about it for a second and explained that I was sad when he passed away but I was and am happy for him. And while I will miss that he’s not around, I feel like I imagine I might if someone I love or care about went to live in a far-away place where no contact was available. I know I might not see them for a long time, if ever, but there isn’t that sense of loss.

Currently, I neither feel bereft nor am I grieving. I feel everything is as it should be.

Of course, he’d had a long life. If it was one of my children who had passed away I might feel differently, but I like to think I wouldn’t.

Keep up the good work.

Jon, Mon 26 Feb, 21:17

Another fine column, Mike. The Maeterlinck account is the climax of my book When Did You Ever Become Less by Dying? And it’s been the focus of a writing assignment I give to my students.

I also like your evaluation of the usual approach used by grief counselors. It’s perhaps a little cynical, but it underscores the better approach you and I and others of similar disposition use.

Stafford Betty, Mon 26 Feb, 21:04

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