Are we still married after the death of one partner? “Til death do us part,” is a part of all traditional marriage ceremonies, but I can’t help but wonder if it is really true. Do our vows—and our relationships–really end at death? Do we really “part” from those we love the most?
I can understand that our faithful monogamous obligation may come to a completion at death, but I am not so sure much else comes to a sudden halt.
If you ask someone who just lost their spouse if they are still married….indeed, they would say they are. This may be the case for years after the death of their spouse—it may feel true forever. The decision to take off one’s wedding ring after a death is often a long time in the making and not without intense emotion and consideration.
I had a coaching client who had lost her spouse and shared that she felt like she was cheating for years to come if she even considered dating another man.
My father-in-law lost his wife and the mother of his children twenty years into their marriage. He went on to marry, and love and live, but when he died, his desire was to be laid to rest with his first wife. And his wife of later years chose to be laid to rest next to her first husband who had died many years previous, as well.
My mom died after fifty-five years with my dad, and now, even ten years later I am quite certain that he still considers himself married to her.
My sister-in-law lost her husband seven years ago, and it wasn’t until recently when she fell in love again that she appeared ready and able to consider that vow complete.
So that begs the question, is it “til death do us part” or “until we love another do us part”? Or perhaps, once bonded heart-to-heart, soul-to-soul—we do not part.
And then there are the signs that perhaps those on the other side of life are not quite so quick to let those vows go either. Of course, I am speaking of a reality for which I have no physical proof, so you will have to look at your own evidence. However, when you ask those who have lost a loved one if there have been messages or signs, they almost always let out a sigh of relief that they have found someone safe to share their amazing stories of life-after-death with or perhaps that is more accurately stated Love-After-Death.
From this inquiry spurs story after story of pennies, feathers, stars, or hearts found repeatedly in amazing or unusual places or moments. Or they share what my family has nicknamed the “Tsumomm“, the wave” of emotion. that washes over you unexpectedly in a moment that feels like a visitation. They talk about songs on the radio, license-plate-messages or bumper-sticker-wisdom at just the right moment in response to a question or a thought. My laptop will periodically start to play music in the middle of the night—usually at 3:33—even though the lid is tightly shut. Or my fire alarm will sound, just once, at 12:12.
Swuire Rushnell wrote a lovely book called, When God Winks and in it he poses the question, “If God wanted to communicate with us but couldn’t use words, how would He do it?” In an attempt to answer this question, we can easily see that our loved ones face the same predicament after death and find the exact same methods to get their message across. In addition to the passing of a perfectly timed T-shirt message and other physical forms of communication—their love may come to us in a splash of creativity, inspiration, intuition, serendipity or through the words of other people.
It is my personal belief, no experience, that true love never dies, nor does it stop being felt or expressed—from either side.
So as All Hallows’ Eve and the Day of the Dead approach, take a moment to honor all the loves of your life—past, present and future and take a moment to feel their love for you too—“now and forevermore.”