Grief on the Edge of the Spirit World

Grief is seen differently in different cultures. One of the most beautiful ways I have seen it described is in the Lakota culture of North America.

They believed that people who grieved were deeply holy and had a special connection with the spirit world.

They considered the person who grieved as standing on the threshold of the spirit world.

To grieve deeply is to be someone whose protective layers are torn away. You are vulnerable and, having lost what you hold most dear, have nothing left to defend.

You grieve, standing on the edge of the spirit world. Then you accept the reality of what you have lost and let go of the past and the future. You just exist in the present moment.

The Lakota refer to this as the groundless openness of sorrow.

In that place of sorrow you have a wholeness of presence and a possess a deep natural wisdom.


Having grieved the loss of many loved ones I like this description.

It is true. As I processed my grief I stood at the edge of the spirit world. The one I loved passed through into the spirit world and I was left standing there, unable to follow.

During that time of deep grieving I existed very much in the present moment.

To be able to move forward in life I had to let go of any investment in the past or the future and just exist now.


My perspective on death changed from some abstract concept I had heard about to something I was experiencing personally. I had to understand what death meant and how it impacted me.

When I first experienced the death of a loved one I was 12 and I had no one to guide me on this journey. I had to explore what death meant, in particular, what the death of this person I loved actually meant.

Death is not a concept that is easy to understand. The one you love is just no longer there. There is no massive fanfare. No great announcement. They just aren’t.

Funerals can help to mark that passage of that person.


What I have noticed over the years as more people I love have died, is that they go somewhere that I can’t follow. They become holders of some great mystery that I am not part of. It is as though they have joined an exclusive club that I can’t join. Not yet anyway.

Grief has changed my perspective on the spiritual. I totally agree that you stand on the edge of the spirit world when the one you love dies.

That experience is one you never forget.


Each time someone you love dies you stand on that edge again and learn more.

Each time someone you love dies you have to process what that death means to you.

The lost presence and the inability to follow. They are very much present as you grieve.

In time I got used to it. I found some sort of meaning in it.


I was never the same again. The new person I was now was different, but not in a negative way. In my own way I crossed a boundary and entered a club, not the one of the dead, but the one of those who grieved.

When you grieve you will never be the same again. But you will learn how to live your new life and you will never forget standing on the edge of the spirit world.


Sometimes you may need help with learning to live your new life.

If you would like to talk to me about how I can help you with your grief experience, please contact me on 0409396608 or

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2 thoughts on “Grief on the Edge of the Spirit World”

  1. This article is the only thing that can explain how I have felt in the last 5 days since finding my brother deceased in the home we all share.
    I felt like my home had strangely become part of the spirit world.
    Where colors are gray and muted
    I have dreamt of this kind of muted world before .the world of the dead and the unknown.
    I need help bringing my own soul back into the land of the living because I feel like my soul has died too.My body feels like I am in the earthly world and my soul like it’s in the spirit world,searching for my brother.
    What’s happening to me?

    1. Frances I am sorry that your brother has died and that you found him. What a horrible experience.
      Yes your world will be muted as you process the shock of all that has happened. Searching for your brother in the spirit world is also something that happens.
      I don’t know how your brother died, but some means of death leave an extra trauma that needs processing.
      What you are experiencing is frequently reported by those who have lost someone they love. Or been involved in finding a person after they have died. I have experienced this myself.
      It is worth remembering that this is normal. That things do eventually get better. You may need help along the way.
      Spiritually you are trying to process a massive spiritual event. As the one who found him you have the spiritual connection because you found him. You also have the trauma of finding him and the memory of what he looked like and the emotions and I imagine shock you experienced.
      Physically your brain is trying to find your brother. You have pathways in your brain that connect you to your brother. They are fed by his presence. When he is physically not there your brain searches for him. Over the next few months your brain will slowly rebuild those pathways that connect you to your brother. The new pathways will connect you to memories and physical reminders of him in the present. All this work by your brain is physically hard. So you will find yourself struggling to feel present, struggling to put thoughts together, struggling to concentrate and focus. You may even experience headaches and other physical pain.
      All these things are part of grieving.
      Be kind to yourself. Be reassured that you are not going mad, you are grieving. Seek help in the coming days/months/years if you need it. Don’t pressure yourself to do more than you deep down know you can do. Don’t be afraid to experience your grief. Cry if you need to. Get angry, laugh, reminisce. Avoid people who are unsupportive. Avoid those who try to shut you down, who tell you that you should “be over it by now”. Seek counselling if you feel you are stuck, or you just need to talk to someone.
      Keep in mind that it is really hard now but in time it will get easier. You will never not feel sadness at what has happened, but you will learn to live with it.

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