My 19-year-old son, Ryan, committed suicide in June of 2002. He was a loving and generous person in life, and in the afterlife, all of those qualities remain. Ryan is a very active spirit. We communicate in various ways, but I really enjoy it when he “visits” me in my dreams. I can recall with complete clarity the first visit he ever made – that night, Ryan came to deliver the hug I had been asking for…

In December of 2003, my younger sister Stephanie called to remind me of the “Worldwide Candle Lighting” held by The Compassionate Friends. This event is normally held on the 2nd Sunday in December. It “unites family and friends around the globe as they light candles for one hour to honor and remember children who have died at any age, from any cause. As candles are lit at 7 p.m. local time, creating a virtual wave of light, hundreds of thousands of persons commemorate and honor the memories of children in a way that transcends all ethnic, cultural, religious, and political boundaries.”

It was our first time to participate in this annual event. I lit a candle for Ryan and several others for the children of our friends who had passed. I sat in silence for awhile, watching the dancing flames of the candles before going outside to have my evening chat with God and Ryan. It had become a ritual to communicate with them in this way; I felt close to them there. That night along with my thanks, I made a special request for Christmas. I asked for a visit from Ryan. I mentioned that I was waiting for my hug and that it would make a great present for me if he felt ready to give me one.

I didn’t have to wait for Christmas. That night, in the middle of a dream – kind of like a commercial break – Ryan appeared. He was surrounded by a sea of whiteness; I saw him standing there in a white t-shirt and blue jeans. I called out his name as I ran toward to him. I took him into my arms and said, “Oh Ryan, you feel so good.” I pulled my son close, pressing every inch of myself tightly against him.

My senses drank him in. I could see him, smell him, and feel him. There are no words in the English language to describe that embrace with justice. I felt complete peace and love in such volumes that it filled every pore in my body. Our love formed a river, and I could feel it flowing from my heart into his as I held him. It was a blending of souls, which formed a single, unbreakable bond. The intensity of that moment was so powerful and pure; it was unlike anything I have ever experienced. It was heaven…

Ryan spoke to me and said, “You feel so good too, Momma.” Hearing his voice was as sweet as eating chocolate for breakfast, and I indulged heartily. Pulling back, I gazed into his beautiful, blue eyes. Then I called to my daughter, Katie, because I wanted her to see him too, but when I turned around to look for her, Ryan disappeared. Commercial over! Right away, my other dream picked up, right where it had left off.

When I awoke, my memory of our hug was crystal clear. It is important to note that there is a distinct difference between dreams of our loved ones and visits from them. The clarity with which we can recall their visits and the details they provide, help to distinguish them from our regular dreams. Also, the overall experience of a visit is completely different from that of a dream – they just feel more real.

I am lucky, because I have been blessed with many memorable “visits”. It is difficult to explain the comfort they deliver…all I know is that I am grateful for them, and the healing power they provide.

Sally Grablick 2012

Sally Grablick

Sally Grablick lost her son to suicide in 2002. Her road to recovery began by reading over 100 books on grief, spirituality and the afterlife. A seeker by nature, she began formulating a recovery plan by exploring the ideas presented within these books. Knowing her efforts would benefit others, she created the “cliff notes” to grief, and shares the lessons learned, tools used and insights gained in her book, The Reason: Help and Hope for Those Who Grieve.

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