Talking to the Dead

I admittedly do so, and quite often.

Not in a medium or clairvoyant way, but more in a personal, one-sided conversational way.

Mostly to my late husband, Joe. Sometimes my mother, brother or grandparents. Something reminds me of them, and so I talk. Aloud. I ask questions they cannot answer. Tell them things they cannot hear (at least in the way we do here on earth), and on some occasions, express how I feel whether it be loving or in anger. They don’t ever talk back (at least not in the way we do here on earth), although I do get plenty of signs that they are somehow still with me.

I’m comfortable with it now. When I first started talking to the dead, it felt incredibly awkward. Was this healthy? What if they start talking back? Was I losing my mind?

I had to double check that last one as it felt very real. I certainly thought about my lost loved ones a lot but speaking aloud felt very different. Fortunately, my many therapists and grief counselors assured me that having these conversations can be quite healthy and healing.

So, I did. Talking whenever I felt the urge to do so. On many occasions, my impulse to speak struck while driving. A perfect location as I could easily fit in with all the other hands-free phone conversation going on in the cars around me. A seemingly normal thing to do while driving alone. No one was the wiser. I looked quite different, however, having these talks while walking without earbuds attached but after a while, I really didn’t care.

The hardest of these conversations were the angry ones. Luckily, they were few and far between, but when they erupted from within, they supplied not only a resurgence flow of heated outbursts but also a thick layer of guilt.

I remember an unpleasant one after coming home from the grocery store having forgotten two crucial ingredients for the evening’s recipe. Two ingredients! My late husband had always done the cooking and shopping, and I felt entirely out of my league in the kitchen from the day he left this earth. I had been attempting to cook new things and now had failed miserably before I even began. A seemingly minor mistake that escalated downward quite rapidly. I was upset, then livid. At myself, at my list, and finally at him. I was no longer talking to the dead, I was yelling. Raging. A moment of raw vulnerability mixed with grief and sheer exhaustion. “How could you do this to me! Why did you leave me with all of this!” I screamed at him in anger while throwing packaged goods across the kitchen with reckless abandon until I collapsed into an emotional mess. The wave of anger was followed by guilt and then ultimately relief. Guilt knowing it was not his fault. He did everything he could to stay here as long as possible. How could I possibly be mad at him for that? I couldn’t. I could, however, be pissed off at the gigantic mess of single parenting that was left behind. That mess was really what needed to be addressed and dealt with. Once I realized that and apologized aloud for taking it out on him, I felt relief being able to release frustration at a situation I never imagined I would be in.

But mostly, my talks bring me joy. Whoever might be the intended recipient, I feel my conversations facilitate a connection to a lost loved one. Sometimes it’s a thank you for a gift left behind, or an appreciation for a life lesson learned from them (with the exception of cooking), or the sharing of a fond memory that pleasantly arises and surprises me. And yes, there are a lot of “I wish you could be here.” and “I love and miss you.” But somehow I know, without it needing to being said, that they are...and they do, too.

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