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I Saw My Deceased Husband...?

Q & A by Bereavement Counselor Marty Tousley 

Question: I need to know if you have ever seen someone you lost. I don't know what to think. I lost my husband a month ago, and the other day my dog went to the window and was barking and wagging his tail very excitedly. So I went to the window thinking someone might be at the gate since my dog was so excited and seemed so happy to see whoever was out there. I looked in the direction he was barking and there I saw my husband, bent over looking under my car. Then he disappeared. 

I went outside and looked under the car to see if the dog had been barking at something else, although if it had been a cat or something, I know his hair would've been standing up on the back of his neck and his barking would've been more menacing. But there was nothing at all there - NO reason I could see for my dog to bark. I wonder now if my husband is at rest or walking around - and it hurts. I don't know if this is just a normal reaction or if my husband is restless and not at rest. Do you have any answer for this? 

Answer: I'm so sorry to learn of the death of your husband last month; please accept my sincere condolences and know that I am thinking of you. 

The experience you describe with your dog is not at all unusual. When we lose someone we love, someone who was an integral part of our everyday lives, it is very difficult for our hearts and memories to accept what our heads and brains know to be true. It is not as simple as turning a light switch off and on - that's why we say that grief is a process, not a single event. The memories you have of your husband still exist in your brain and in your heart. Although your husband has died, the bond you had with him still lives on, and will live on forever if you choose to keep it so. Death ends a life, but it does not end a relationship. 

When someone dies, it is not at all unusual for those left behind (human or animal) to sense that they have seen, heard, smelled or even felt the touch of the person who has died, especially this early in your grief journey. Having worked with grieving individuals for many years now, I can assure you that I've heard about and read about many, many similar accounts such as yours. If, however, you do not expect such experiences, they can be quite unsettling. On the other hand, when you learn that such experiences are perfectly normal, even common, you may find them to be quite comforting. 

Many people consider them some sort of symbol, message or sign from the deceased loved one signaling that they are all right. I cannot tell you what to believe - but I can assure you that what you describe is not at all abnormal and you are not "going crazy". You might be interested in reading a wonderful book on the subject by a man who's been researching such "extraordinary experiences" for many years: Gifts from the Unknown: Using Extraordinary Experiences to Cope with Loss and Change, by Louis E. LaGrand. 

I encourage you to find someone you can trust and with whom you feel comfortable talking about your experiences - preferably someone who has experienced loss and knows something about normal grief. I also suggest you do some reading about the normal grieving process, both to prepare you for what to expect and to reassure yourself that what you're going through is normal. 

I hope this information proves helpful to you. I wish you all the best, and I hope that when you're ready you will let me know how you are doing.  


Wishing you Peace and Healing,
Marty Tousley, Bereavement Counselor

 

 

 

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Marty Tousley, MS, RN, CS is a content provider for Self Healing Expressions. She is a hospice bereavement counselor helping people find their way through grief following the death of a loved one. As a volunteer with the Pet Grief Support Service in Phoenix, AZ, she also works with bereaved animal lovers, both individually and in groups, and consults with veterinary clinics to foster greater understanding of pet loss among staff members, thereby building better helping relationships with grieving clients.

A frequent contributor to healthcare journals, newsletters and magazines for the lay public, she has written several articles and book chapters in the professional nursing and medical literature, and has authored three books addressing various aspects of loss and grief. Her award-winning Internet Web site, www.GriefHealing.com offers information, comfort and support to anyone who is anticipating or mourning the loss of a loved one, whether human or animal.

Copyright 2003, 2004 Marty Tousley. All rights reserved. If you wish to publish this article, please email contact@selfhealingexpressions.com

 

 




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