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Carol's Columns

Not So Unusual After All

The Dreams and Unusual Happenings workshop, sponsored by Georgia Alioto and her husband for our local Compassionate Friends chapter, was a great success. We all felt this even before reading the enthusiastic evaluations from workshop participants. The Aliotos welcomed us into their home and Georgia provided one of her memorable lunches before the sharing began. As each of us introduced ourselves and began to tell our stories, we discovered that our experiences before and after our children's deaths were not so unusual after all. This was the first opportunity for many to share these events in a group setting.

Many told of visits from their children after their deaths, either in dreams or in waking consciousness. One mother had two visits from her son in which she saw him and heard him speak. Another mother shared her skepticism about whether an after-life exists but said she had so many experiences with her son since his death that she is now not sure what to think. A father described hearing his daughter call his name one night when he was alone and overwhelmed with sadness. This same father told of another time when he heard his daughter laughing while he visited her gravesite. Both events were a great comfort to him. This echoed my own experience after my daughter Kristen's death. I was lying in bed one night feeling very sad, discouraged and unable to fall asleep. In the stillness of the night, I heard my name two distinctly different times that were only seconds apart. The voice didn't sound like Kristen, but I knew it was either her or another spirit letting me know that I wasn't alone. Consoled, I peacefully rolled over and fell asleep.

I was especially moved when Alan Kolsky described his closeness to our children whenever he works on the videos for the annual candle-lighting ceremonies. Alan said he is at a loss to explain how these things sometimes happen, but he believes that the children themselves have a hand in what they want the result to be. He has found that if they don't like his choice of music or scene, then it simply doesn't work. One time prior to the candle-lighting, when he had almost completed the video, his computer systems completely shut down. Alan panicked because he was running out of time and could not figure out what was wrong. Just as mysteriously, the video machine then started up again. Later he discovered that he had mixed up two of the children's pictures. He now thinks that the children had a hand in this, giving him one last chance to get it right before the ceremony. No wonder the videos are so beautiful. Alan and our children are all in this together!

The importance of sharing these experiences is the confirmation we get (and need) that our children are okay and at peace in an after-life. Most parents can feel at peace themselves once they are reassured of this. Bereaved parents who share in this way are a great comfort to each other.