A few weeks ago while out walking my dog, I was thinking of an old friend who had recently had her second child.
I found myself saying out loud to my mom, who had already passed away, “She had her first and her second child, mom, and you don’t know about either of them.”
Thankfully, no one was around to hear me.
It was something I wanted to tell her, and so I did. Even though she isn’t physically around anymore, that doesn’t mean I can’t still talk to her or tell her I love her.
I’m not a psychic—I don’t talk to dead people in that way. When I say I talk to dead people, what I mean is that I literally talk out loud to the people I have lost, and mostly to my mom. I don’t have long conversations with her because, well, a dead person can’t speak, and by definition, to have a conversation with someone, you need to talk back and forth.
As I told my mom about my friend’s children, I imagined her like a beam of consciousness floating nearby—like some kind of hazy cloud, gold and sparkling. Okay, now I’m really starting to sound crazy, aren’t I? But whatever brings someone comfort after losing a person—whatever helps them process the fact that their loved one is no longer in their lives in a physical way, I think is okay.
Death and grief are difficult and challenging journeys to go through that never end. But they’re different for everyone.
Some people speak to their loved ones through prayer, while others might say “hello” or “good morning” to a picture they have hung on their fridge or on the fireplace mantle.
But when I talk to dead people, I usually just end up saying out loud, “I love you, mom,” whenever she pops into my head at random times—while doing the dishes, out walking my dog, or maybe on my walk to work. I just kind of blurt it out, urgently, as if I really do need her to know that I love her.
It’s my way to recognize that the person, in my case my mom, my aunt, or my grandma and grandpa are still alive with me, in my consciousness. Sometimes, I end up saying, “I love you,” to all of them, like some sort of mantra. I love you, mom, I love you, Denise (my aunt who had passed away at the beginning of 2021), I love you, grandma and grandpa. I’ve lost others, too, but those are the dearest to me.
Somehow, speaking those handful of words out loud makes it feel more real. Saying them out loud gives the words life, meaning, and reality.
Maybe I say “I love you,” because they were the last words I said to my mom before she passed away—before she spent her final two days unconscious in the palliative care wing of the hospital. My mom said, “I love you,” as I walked with my dad out of her room following our visit. I turned back to her, with tears in my eyes and my throat tight with sadness, and croaked out the words, “I love you, mom.” And then, I left.
They were also the last words I said to her after she passed away. I leaned over to kiss her cooling forehead and whispered those words, one final time—and wondered, as I stood up, if she was still somewhere in the room with me. I wondered if her consciousness was somehow still there, maybe floating above us all, unseen but still comprehending.
I remember a friend of mine once told me that maybe I’d be able to sense her. I briefly tried to see if I could sense anything in the room, but I quickly banished that thought and once again, left the room with my dad. I still remember the two of us holding hands as we walked back to the car, as if we needed to remind each other that we were still there, even if my mom wasn’t.
I’ve written about this before here on Elephant Journal. I’m not religious, so I don’t believe in an afterlife. But I’d still like to think that after our loved ones are no longer with us, their energy still exists like an amorphous consciousness on some other level that we don’t know about. I guess that is a description of an afterlife, isn’t it?
So I’m fine with talking to my mom every so often. Those three simple words, “I love you,” say everything and more that I need to let her know.
I don’t need to have a conversation with her, I don’t need to tell her about my day. I just, sometimes, feel like I need to say those words out loud to her. To remind her and myself of the connection we had, and will always have.