NORA L. JAMIESON
Enter the Demons
It is November and the demons have arrived with the winds, the falling leaves and with the remembered events of the November Allan began to leave me due to his undiagnosed brain tumor. It is a hard month, my body remembers. It being the second year doesn’t make it easier, it makes it all the clearer. The other night, in the early darkness, I opened my computer and finally read the notes Paul had written covering from Thanksgiving through December. I didn’t weep, my heart felt old, experienced and yes, this is how it was, full of hard and tender moments. He attended with the precision and tenderness of his father. After this, and a session with an Evidential Medium, which will continue on Monday morning, I felt more the presence of Allan with me. And yet the demons got louder.
The origin of the word demon at one time meant spirit, it took on malevolence around the Christian era. In my Feeding the Demons training, the demon is a part of us that has been outcast because of the disapproval of our families, religion or culture. We learn to turn against ourselves in order to survive. The Demons show up when we go against the grain of how we’re supposed to behave. The Feeding the Demons work is about getting to the true need of the demon and in a magical process we turn our bodies into nectar to feed the demon what they really, truly need, rather than what they demand.
There are always secondary losses when a loved one dies. Friends who you think will be by your side forever, aren’t, those who one doesn’t expect to be there, are. One loses the ground, concentration, heart, joy, patterns of living, and the future. As Megan Devine says, your loved ones are still dead in the future. It is a long and painful journey. For the sake of love.
Blessings too have come into my life, just the right practitioner, love from unexpected places, a daughter of the heart in Petra. I’ve been studying Evidentiary Mediumship on-line with Susan Geissman, and following Miribai Starr’s teachings, a mystical woman and translator of the mystics, whose daughter was killed at the tender age of 14. And keeping in touch with Writing Your Grief. I graduated from Hospice training but am not yet volunteering.
As the fall approached, my body remembered, and as I continued studying these practices of life after life, the intensity of the grief deepened, and the secondary losses pile up in my mind and then the demons arrive sounding an alarm bell in order to correct the situation. Yes, their aim is to fix.
Because of the secondary losses and continuing grief, they tell me I’ve lived my whole life wrong, they tell me I’m too sensitive, that it’s time to move on, that others don’t want to be with me because I’m too sad, that Nora has disappeared and that my life is over. My work is over and on, and on. I’m sure you know these voices in your own life. And we believe them when they have us in a stranglehold. The thing is I believe they arrive in order to keep us in a safe zone, preoccupied with how we’ve messed up rather than what is really going on. And if it’s our fault, we can fix it. Not so. Grief doesn’t need fixing, our culture needs fixing in it’s understanding and attitudes and avoidance of grief, our own and others. The grief of the natural world. Demons bring guilt, and guilt brings a paralysis of snarled attempts to get ourselves out of the wrong. It’s a wrestling match we can’t win, but one we might resolve.
With Petra’s witness, I ask them, “Why are you here? What do you want from me?”
“We want you to get it together, they tell me, we’re frightened because you’re too sad, you’ve lost your life and we’re afraid. We want you to shut up about grief. You must have lived your life wrong, made a fatal error of judgment or character somewhere to be so lonely, to have empty days. They really go for the jugular.
Taking a deep breath, I ask again “What do you need?”
“And if you receive security,” I ask.
“We’ll feel safe.” So I try to feed them the nectar of safety but they don’t drink.
Puzzled, I ask them, “and if you feel safe what will you feel?”
“We can rest.” “We’ll have peace.” Ah. You can rest. You can have peace.
Resting and peace is hard come by when you don’t know the future and your best friend is dead. No one does, but when your life is turned upside down and your life partner is now spirit, the illusion of knowing dissolves too. It pushes me into having to live the unknown, impermanent life with no props. This frightens all of us. So we distract. The demons distract me, show up as an alarm system. If I feed them the nectar of rest, will they/I be able to rest? I don’t know, because this, in particular, is the month of vigilance. This is the month of wondering what is wrong with my beloved, I don’t know this man, then later on, will he fall, is he hurting, will he die and later on, the inability to rely on my body’s grief and stress reactions. And now the loneliness. “You must have done something wrong they say, not to have a more coherent community. You were a fool to speak out all this time.” I tell them if I don’t speak out, they won’t know if people haven’t been through this pain that isn’t gone in one, two, or maybe three years, we need to know about it. The push back I often get is from people is, “but Nora everyone grieves differently.” Yes, everyone has a style of grief, a different way of expressing emotion or not. But I think this push back is irrelevant. If someone is speaking their pain to you, it is their way. And I suspect most people do not grieve openly because of cultural sanctions and because they know it won’t be received.
The demons persist, piling on and I’ve become quieter. But then I realize the fear wins. The silence wins. The thoughts bringing me down win. What is the prize I wonder? A false illusion that all is well and will be well? Not having to face helplessness in the face of your friend’s or family member’s grief? Your own? It seems to me the prize is possibly a hardened heart. And isolation. And indifference.
The silence about our grief, the elephant’s grief, the grief of the trees, the waters, hardens us to the preciousness of life and the grief around us, and around and around we go. What we won’t speak of, we won’t see. So the demons want me to be quiet to protect me, and we as a culture want to protect ourselves from the pain of knowing grief.
The prize is in healing our lineage, our ancestry and our culture. The prize is having an open tender heart, even if it hurts like hell. The prize is that this is one of the deepest works of soul that changes us. This soul work asks us to speak as well as to be quiet and contemplative. his soul work asks us not to be ashamed or to let the shame win.
All I can say to my demons is “I hear you are afraid.” “I hear you. I too am afraid. I too don’t know what will become of us, what the future brings. But I am compelled to speak, to not fade into the realm of silence about one of life’s most challenging times. There is no prize in that.”