This morning I woke up with this sentence in my mind: ‘Witness death to birth life’.
You know when you are between asleep and awake? When dreams haven’t yet left you, but you are also aware of life around you? I find those times magical and I like to heed the messages that come through during these liminal times.
This upcoming week, on April 18 and then on the 22, I celebrate two relevant anniversaries in my life. April 18 was my last day at my corporate job, before I crossed the threshold into creating my new life and birthed my business.
April 22 is when my father passed away from cancer.
On my last day at my corporate job, my father was already at the hospital and undergoing all sorts of exams to find out what he had. They hadn’t found the cancer yet, but there was already some worry in the air.
Here I was going for my ‘dream’ and my father was about to start journeying towards the biggest threshold of one’s life. Thankfully he was very supportive of my venture, very proud of me going for what I loved. He was a very optimistic Sagittarius, seeing life always as an adventure where all the glasses were half full, and where crisis was an opportunity. He favorite saying was: problems are to be solved, so let’s solve them.
Cut to several months forward. Three months ago, right after the Women’s March, after the Inauguration of our Childish President, and I sit with my sister and stepmother around my father, as we can see clearly that life is leaving his body.
For a while, we just sit in silence around him, holding his hands, interrupted only by my stepmother’s words of affection to my father. While I internally repeated the only private prayers and message I could to him: letting him know that it was ok for him to go; that all would be alright with us; that he no longer needed to suffer here.
In that moment, I realized that what we were doing was holding the space for him to cross his threshold. In our own ways, we blessed him to go. We encouraged him and we held the container.
After it was all said and done, I realized that to witness death is something that our culture needs to Re-Member, to bring back. In talking to others who have witnessed a loved one transition, has shown me that the main word used to describe this process is: beauty.
Before undergoing this rite of passage, I wouldn’t have thought that this was beautiful, but this is the best word to describe it. So why do we run from it?
I also realized that even other threshold moments of our lives also need to be witnessed, need someone to hold the space for us. We need this more fully in our culture and lives: the holding of the space before we cross the threshold.
A threshold, whatever it may be, is a sort of death. It signals that we go from one stage, one identity, into another. The same way that we want the celebration of crossing over, think of the graduation party, the wedding reception, the birth of a baby, and on and on, we also need the holding of space before we cross over. Something in us is dying and before we can fully release that, we need witnesses.
I’ve noticed in my own experience and with clients that come to me for a session, that what is at the core of our encounter is a need for witnessing and validation. Whatever is the presenting issue that pops up that brings them to me, has also deep inside a need to be witnessed in what they have already done and to be validated for what they are about to do.
This is where the sacredness of the encounter in a session happens. It’s in the unspokens and in the energy field of that encounter.
Perhaps this is why we as a culture struggle so much with navigating the landscape of grief. It’s because we are in need of being witnessed – in our transition, in the vulnerability of our grief.
If you have not watched the Pixar Movie “Inside Out”, I recommend you do so, even if you don’t care for animated movies. It’s a beautiful description of how much we need to Grief so that we can fully experience Joy. They are sisters on this journey. Watch it and you will be happily surprised.
I would just add that Witnessing be the third in this triune that already includes joy and grief. These are the core elements we need when we traversing our own inner and outer thresholds – this is where the richness of the liminal spaces resides.
PS – If you are undergoing the crossing of a threshold in your life, let’s work together.