Scattered Ashes


We scattered the rest of my husband, Mitch’s, ashes... Well, all but what remained in a small hand-carved wooden urn, those I’ll save for Ava and Amelie for when they’re older (at Ava’s request). I hadn’t been able to keep the large brass urn in my room anymore, the sight of it made me feel sad, and gave me a heavy feeling in my body. So, they were in my mom’s closest, hidden away, and out of my sight. But I knew they were there, waiting to be released.


I thought that perhaps I’d scatter them in the ocean from Mitch’s friend’s boat, and then all of a sudden Mitch’s Birthday came. My ritual of celebration for Mitch’s Birthday over the last years was to gather flowers, go down to the beach, write letters to him in the sand, let the kids play, pray, and offer the flowers to the sea in memory of Mitch. And then this year, dear Ava suggested we include scattering the rest of her dad's ashes in the ocean, as a part of the Birthday celebration.

I had to think about it for a little while before I was able to respond.  I knew that I had been wanting to, but I felt a little apprehensive. I hadn’t opened that urn since the night before Mitch’s memorial service, and my goodness, that process had been so painful that I had to call on my uncle and brother to help me. But, my intuition told me that it was a yes. The time was now.

I packed the urn in Mitch’s old backpack, and me and my girls walked down to the beach and gathered flowers along the way.

Opening the urn wasn’t as scary or painful as it had been nearly 3 ½ years ago when we first opened it. I poured the ashes into the forest green velvet satchel that the urn had come in, we prayed, and then me and the girls began grabbing fistfuls of ash, and tossing them in the ocean. It was a windy day, and so by the time we finished, we were all dusted with Mitch’s white ash. The girls were joyous as we let go of what we had been holding onto.  

His backpack that I carried home was a lot lighter, and so was the feeling in my heart.


Journal Prompting

How can you honor both a loved one who has passed and your own grief through a sacred ritual that you create?

What needs to be released in your life that creates a feeling of heaviness and sadness?

How can you include your children in the process of grieving and healing the loss of a significant loved one in your life?


Letting go in the form of hurling my i-phone into the ocean

After someone close to us dies, there are certain physical things that we can literally hold onto that give us comfort, that remind us of our loved one, that represent them in this physical world, that provide emotional comfort. But when that thing which was once was a source of comfort becomes a source of angst, sadness, anger, heaviness, or stress, it signifies that it is time to release that which you were holding onto, it is time to let it go.

This just came up for me in my own life. After my husband, Mitch, passed away 14 months ago, I began using his i-phone after mine “mysteriously” broke the morning after I had a dream that I dropped it in a pool of water. I held onto his phone like my life depended on it. I relished in all of his music, his photos, the messages we had sent back and forth to one another. I held it so close to my heart. Magical and mysterious things had happened with that phone, a new playlist surfaced weeks after he passed entitled, horses, and I felt every song was from his heart to mine. I looked at the otter-box cover with the camouflage coloring and I felt him. And then about 10 days ago, I asked Mitch to help me in releasing him a bit more, I asked him to help me release another layer of sadness in my heart, I asked him to help me let go a bit more. And then shortly after that, the i-phone no longer held a charge. I had to keep it plugged in in order for it to maintain a 1% charge. I panicked. I performed reiki (energy healing) on the phone, which worked for a short time, until the battery just slowly died once again, but held onto that thread of 1%. I called a friend and reiki healer to meet for a walk on the beach yesterday. I brought the phone in hopes that she, being a master, could heal my phone for real (in simply changing the battery, I risked the entire contents of the phone being erased). So I asked her, but then shared that I wondered if this was another lesson for me in letting go. She concurred with the latter. She encouraged me to release the phone. She held it before my eyes, assuring me that Mitch was not in the phone, the phone was not Mitch. The tears flowed, and flowed, and flowed. Deep in my heart, I knew she was right. I knew this was a lesson in letting go. She asked me if I was ready to release the phone, I knew the answer within was a yes as much as I cried. We walked to the top of one of the rocks along the rocky part of the shore. I looked down at the sea and was reminded of all the courageous things Mitch had always encouraged me to do, always stretching me to challenge myself, to step outside of my comfort zone, and jumping off a high rock into the ocean had been one of them. I smiled. A few butterflies swirled around me in the winds, the sea spray from the waves crashing against the rocks urged me that the time to release the phone was now. I looked down by my feet and saw a beautiful flower that had fallen from the tree above me. I picked it up, held it on top of the phone, said a prayer, wished Mitch release and freedom and myself the same. My friend stood beside me as my support, and I let go. My tears had dried and I hurled the phone into the ocean. I smiled. I thanked Mitch. And I immediately put the intention out into the universe that I was open and ready to be gifted with a new i-phone, as that had been my only camera. So for those of you reading that may have an extra that is looking for a home, I will willingly receive it with open arms and an open heart. I hugged my friend. I walked away feeling a little lighter and a little braver. And now I ask you to ask yourself, what is it time to let go of in your own life?


Receptivity and intention to light up the darkness

Ava and I arrived at the birthing house nearly two weeks ago, and I have found myself mentally, emotionally, and spiritually preparing for Amelie's entrance into the world, as well as grieving another aspect of the loss I feel over Mitch's passing. My intention for the stay at the house was to enjoy the heck out of Ava, really make it a special time of bonding for the two of us, connect to the special surroundings of the house, the mountainous rainforest, feel very connected to Mitch's spirit, and welcome Amelie into the world. At the start of our stay, upon Ava's request, we watched a very up close and personal video of Mitch, and it had me reeling for the next several days, and very focused on all of the ways he was not here... I struggled with connecting to the ways he was here with us, and then one afternoon while Ava was napping, I was sitting outside on the patio looking out into the vast mountains and tropical forest. A strong, calming breeze came over me, and in that instant, I could feel him, I was overcome by an overwhelming feeling of peace and joy. And then one evening a mutual friend of Mitch and I's posted a music video called “shine on,” that she felt called to share with me when she was all of a sudden filled with thoughts of Mitch and I. In those three of so minutes of watching the video, again, I very strongly could feel Mitch's presence, and was so grateful for my friend who was able to send me his message and remind me to have faith. And then one evening of instant messaging with a friend, with such a knowing, she reassured me that Mitch was with me in that moment, and would be with me during the birth. That faith that she had helped cast any shadows of doubts that I had in that moment of his absence. I was truly amazed at the power that her faith had in helping my guiding light shine just a little bit brighter. And then this morning, I was gently drawn into the town church, and although I am not a church goer, I have an appreciation for all places deemed holy. Upon entering into the church, I was overcome with feelings of a beautiful, compassionate, forgiving, divine presence that brought me to tears. I am sharing this out of pure gratitude and awe at the sometimes subtle and obvious ways that Spirit present itself to us, if we are simply open to receiving. As the days have passed here and I feel more connected to the sacred, I have found myself more and more ready to give birth and begin the new chapter of our lives... I believe that with receptivity and intention, we can allow healing and miracles into our lives.

Gentle reminders of Spirit

I find myself in a quiet space today, a space of surrender and letting go. I ask to see Mitch in everything today, a recommendation from my sister-in-law last night, and I refocus my energies on my supreme connection to God, where God and Mitch are my focus upon which everything else rains, my umbrella- I trust in this divine shelter. I take notice today of the light in people's eyes, people who really see, in those eyes I see God, I see love. I cry after encounters with two older men who look at me with that light and a gentle smile, and I am reminded of Mitch in those eyes, full of light and a gentle pervasive love. My beach meditation yesterday reminds me to ride the waves with patience, without resistance, with perfect timing, the ocean has shown itself as my teacher. I sit on the rocks on the beach waiting for my car's oil to be changed and notice a tiny bright green sprout shooting up amidst its rocky neighbors, the only one, a little reminder of fresh life that can grow in even the harshest of conditions. Here I am in this place that called me back, an undeniable invitation beckoning me, and here it is where I heal, where I grow, where I plant my roots with my darling daughter and daughter-to-be. A tarot card reading from the other night that read, let your emotions flow freely, or you will be chained to the ever-changing highs and lows of the tides, reminds me to let go of control and let both my sadness and joy come at will, and I let both pass through me, cleansing my heart and renewing my soul. And once again faith comes in to reign supreme and guide my journey.

Tasting the fruits of Orange County, California: coming into contact and connection with the natural world in a place I least expected.

It began with a feeling of melancholy for the wilderness I'd left behind in Northern California, a wilderness of open spaces, raging rivers, bubbling creeks, and wild flowers. This hunger for the natural lead to the rise of a desire to connect to the place that I am in now, a place where I least expected to feel the embrace of mother nature, in the suburbs of Orange County, California.

When I take time time to take notice, I see that the neighborhood streets are lined with trees, plants, and flowers living in harmony with one another, planted with care, patience, and an inherent desire for the natural. The streets are alive with the breath of life, their inhabitants singing joyous tunes heard over the faint hum of cars buzzing and humming in the distance. Musical melodies announcing the birth of blooms and new life, awaken my senses to the scents of Spring. I dizzy in the intoxicating perfumes of jasmine, honeysuckle, and rose buds. The sounds of paradise reverberate through the song of the wild parrots, as I step out into the tamed wilderness and meander through the streets in awe and reverence. With awareness, we can open ourselves to a connection with nature even in the most populated of places, and in fact we will find that it nourishes our souls and reminds us of our connection to the greater natural world. All we have to do is take the time to take notice and appreciate the life even amidst the concrete jungles we may find ourselves in.

Tasting the sweetness of life

We can learn from sitting in the company of the trees how to be rooted, flexible, and strong. We can learn from observing the ocean tides how to go with the flow of life and allow our experiences and emotions to move through us without resistance or struggle. We can learn from the stillness and expansiveness of air to allow our minds to be free and open. We can learn from other animals how to be wild and true to our own nature. We can learn from the untamed wilderness, of our own inner untamed wilderness. We can learn from the sea moss that lives on the tree branches that dip into ocean during high tide that we are a part of a web of interconnected life, and that we need others in order to survive and thrive in the world. We can learn through observing a fruit bearing plant that we are all born to fulfill a purpose, and that with space to grow, caring attention, a forgiving environment, water, and the proper nutrients we will bear the fruits of our labor. We can learn from spending time with a family pet of the inherent need in all of us to receive love and affection, and the capacity within all of us to give and receive love unconditionally. We can learn from the yards and gardens of our neighbors of our desire to create beauty and wilderness all around us and tend to others with care and attention. We can learn from the birds of our freedom to move and sing aloud our true song. We can learn so much if we just open our ears, our eyes, and our hearts to the consciousness of each living and non-living thing all around us. If only we could stop for a moment to step outside the flow of our own thoughts to be in communion with all that surrounds us in each moment, could we taste the sweetness of what it is to be alive in this world. Each moment is a gift and an opportunity to love and engage more fully with the world, and to see ourselves and others as a loving God would see.

Boat Reflections: Seeing our own wild nature in the natural world

When my husband, daughter, and I were living on our sailboat on the river in Redwood City, California I became intimately connected with the changing weather during the times when my daughter would nap. I would sit in the cockpit and journal each day and began to see myself in the naturalness of the cloudy stillness, the heaviness and turbulence of approaching rains, and the calm clarity of the sunlit skies. I began to identify with the ever-changing mood of each day, and my heart began to open to a greater acceptance of the naturalness of my ever-changing moods. During that special time in my life, it was like I was seeing the sky, the clouds, and feeling the wind and sun on my skin for the first time, in brilliant clarity and gratitude. I relished each day on the boat, and the closer that it brought me to realizing my own wild nature. It helped me to connect to the wide spectrum of feelings that I had, and that they somehow felt okay because nature herself felt the intense rush of stormy skies and the lightness of sunny days. It also reminded me that like the weather, I am forever changing, so not to fixate or dwell on any particular state of being or feeling, as this too shall pass.