My Nan died at 9pm last night. I wasn’t at her bedside as she drew her last breath. I wasn’t comforting, talking, stroking her hair, holding her hand. I wasn’t with my dad or my mum or my sister, herself facing fear to share this sacred moment. I wasn’t with my aunts or my uncle or my cousins.
My Nan loved in presence. She liked to sit back, to observe, to drink in the atmosphere of family gatherings as mindfully as she’d drink her (specially selected) glass of Cherry Brandy each Christmas. As my awareness grew, I saw this clearer and clearer — she loved her family, us, deeply. So much so, being surrounded by us was all she required to be content, to remain hydrated.
In her final moments, she was surrounded by us. And I’m certain she felt this familiar presence, from those there physically, and those separated by distance but there in spirit, as the Derisz constellation drifts, from Bristol, across the world, to Manchester, to Berlin, to Melbourne, and now the stars.
My family is close in our unique way, as all constellations are unique. Being away from home, awaiting a ping from a phone usually on silent, thousands of miles away, an hour ahead of time, I realised more than ever how close our bond is. We’ve stuck and stick together, we share the highs, we share the lows. Today, we share the grief.
The Realm Of Dreams
My Nan’s breaths slowly shallowed as she faded, peacefully, passing in her sleep, after some days spent in the realm of dreams. A hospice in New York interviewed 14,000 dying patients. The study found, as they drifted in and out of consciousness, from one world to the next, the majority had exceptionally lucid, vibrant visions.
In these states, they had detailed conversations with deceased family members. They reflected on their lives, sort unfinished business. My Nan would’ve lived forever, if she could, but I have no doubt she was finding peace with what was — her physical body, the container of her essence, shutting down.
“Instead of having this fear of death,” said Dr. Christopher Kerr, who documents the hospice study with his team, “it almost transcends the fear of death to something bigger.” Patients report these near-universal dreams are “more real” and different from anything experience before. They offer relief. They offer healing.
Make no mistake — my Nan was getting shit done. She would move on from the physical plane, yes, but only when totally ready. I can picture her now, rolling up her sleeves, telling her son, my uncle Colin — it’s time to get to work. In our lifetime we may never know the full nature of this work, but her fight, resilience, tenacity, and will to keep going will benefit missions of another realm immensely.
May You Be Happy, May You Be Well
All of us had time to process; days passed after the inevitable became clear. It was painful to be away. But I had my time on Wednesday evening. I drifted, in and out of sleep, dazed by lifelike hallucinations. The dream world was vying for my attention.
It’s unlike me to be awake at such an hour, but come 2am, I brewed a mint tea, journalled my reflections, and sat in meditation. Intuitively, I knew; I wasn’t choosing this time or this moment — this time and this moment was choosing me.
My intention was to send loving kindness, compassion, and healing to my Nan, beyond time and space, communicating with her in the place she was, where dreams are lived and shared.
As my mind stilled, an electrifying vision appeared in my mind’s eye, full of life, accompanied by presence, causing a shift in perception, awakening of a deeper intelligence. There you were; sat in your chair, smiling, knowingly. I recited phrases of loving kindness: “May you be happy, may you be well, may you be peaceful, may you be loved.”
I hadn’t cried that day. But then there was the look — you know how it feels, when someone looks at you, attentively. A look felt across distance. A look, in this context, orchestrating a symphony of chills. As my Nan looked at me, completely at ease, a bright white light filled the room; a room so familiar, now drenched in an ethereal, timeless quality of another dimension.
“May we be happy, may we be well, may we be peaceful, may we be loved.”
Opening Our Hearts Through Grief
In that moment, I knew she was okay. I knew she was loved and loving, peaceful, understanding, wise, more alive and vibrant than her physical body ever could be. Her divine spark, previously in one form, now moving towards the light.
As we locked eyes and hugged and shared and smiled and cried, I wasn’t sure who was reassuring who. In truth, maybe we were reassuring each other. That’s what families do.
In the past grief has hardened me, made me put up barriers. It’s taken some work to break open that shell, to move through the pain. But I now understand death has the potential to open our hearts to what is most meaningful.
I am humbled, and I look forward to being with my family — to grieve, appreciate, express the deepest expressions of what it means to be human. To be there.
For you, Nan…
I wasn’t there, but I saw you in dreams.
And I’m sure you saw me, too.