Jeanne Denney
basket weave

Grief and Bereavement

I find it impossible to speak about bereavement without acknowledging energetic relationships with others or having an understanding of the energetic process or dying, so I offer these teachings below.

Relationship Basics

We live in a sea of energy, not just our own energy but also those that we constantly communicate with back and forth.  As infants we form relationship patterns and webs of support that last a lifetime. These are transferred from our first relationships to others.  Healers often perceive these relationships as energy cords or threads that connect from a part of our energy anatomy (or chakra) to a part of another person’s energy anatomy.  Non-verbal communication passes through these cords or directly through our field, and can often be perceived as a felt sense in the body.  We “feel” others and conduct our relationships with them through these dynamic highways of information.  These conduits themselves can become damaged when we have relationships difficulties.


When we die, a part of our energy system and some of our chakra cords dissolve.  Specifically, through death we seem to lose our lower 3 chakras and associated cords while their energy transmutes upward or dissipates.  Our lower 3 chakras have the most to do with such things as personal ego, tribal and personal identity, responsibility, social role, power, emotions, physical energy or will and sexuality. If you are in relationship with someone who is dying, you will be challenged to feel these changes deeply in your own body and energy.  This is especially true if your relationship is deeply rooted with another on these lower, more intimate levels of energy.  It is important to recognize that this is just a natural energetic process that occurs as we make new contracts with each other are challenged to find and hold a much larger picture.  It is important to "good grieving" to support and not resist these natural movements of energy. The hearts of emotionally present others can be especially helpful to both the person dying and their loved ones.

I have witnessed dying persons and their families go through this process many times in hospice work. Cords of relationship through the lower bodies must dissolve. Meanwhile the chakras of loved ones must also change and rebalance as people differentiate.  Much of this work is done in the very natural process of “life review” hospice workers know so well as we recast our stories from the standpoint of the heart.  In a “good death” this process is not so difficult or resisted so deeply. 

The good news is that, though it may take time, as mentioned above it is indeed a natural process.  If we are lucky, our bodies and psyches have practiced healthy processes of attachment and differentiation throughout life and are in some way prepared.  If so, we just have to support the natural movement of healing.  If it is not, grief will inevitably bring up issues from other stages of our development.  It is rare not to have old business to do in grief. If we get help and don’t shut it down, we have an opportunity to heal losses of our lives through our grief.  Helping facilitate these energetic changes is part of supporting bereavement.

After Death

I can’t say what exactly happens to heart and transpersonal connections of the upper chakras after death, but in my years of hospice work I have witnessed them staying quite regularly intact. This corroborates the common experiences the bereaved have with the dead after death, evidence perhaps that we do have the possibility of continued connection after the great crossing, but these are connections that challenge our limited perceptions of reality. One of the tasks of Bereavement is surely to learn to use what is still available to let ongoing relationship inform and feed us on new levels, not turning from these possibilities because of an over-fixation on the loss of the physical, mental or emotional bodies no longer there. This change requires great flexibility of heart, mind and spirit. Doing it well may require a lifetime of practice and the help and love of others.

Relationships and Co-dependency through Death

Relational processes have long been understood by hospice workers to be a profound factor in the dying process, hence the need for relationships closure even as a patient is non-communicative, such as permission given by families to “go”. The changes in these invisible cords are the reason why. 

While we seem to need others to help us through the hurdles of death, giving us strength support to move through its strong cycles, our “contractions” so to speak, clinging to others to stay alive or to keep our lives from changing has a very different flavor. Consider the difference between a birth doula who supports birth with presence, encouragement and acceptance, and someone who is actively restraining a birth. What difficulties might resisting the movement of a dying person bring about for them? But for many people unfamiliar with death or in co-dependent relationships, to not rescue (or not to feed) is to abandon.  Abandoning might feel like killing, a deep taboo. However this reasoning is distorted and creates a lot of problems. Allowing dying is not killing.

Where there is great co-dependency, denial and perhaps resistance to allowing the patient’s cords or chakras to dissolve as they naturally might (maybe because we are becoming destabilized or are not ready), patients can literally be kept alive for a time through the physical energy of their caregiver, ultimately depleting them. It is not uncommon in this “good giver” syndrome for a caregiver to get ill or even die before the dying patient. There is indeed a certain danger in caring for dying people who are strongly resisting their natural death trajectory.  Strong co-dependency of this nature, unresolved grief from history as well as traumatic death with no time to absorb the coming changes can bring about what is called “complicated grief”. 

In sum

Bereavement is an energetic process, one of allowing the energy of the other and our own energy to change, upwardly displace into connection with our transpersonal or divine selves. We are challenged to transform with another, then return again to reclaim our more profane self - identity without the other in physical form. It is fully a part of life pulsation and has its own pulsation. Indeed, grief can be seen as the template for all relationship transformation. It is a hero’s journey of call and return. This upward pulsation of our primary energy, a renegotiation of contracts perhaps and a re-assimilation. Seeing both process and pattern within the unmanageability of emotions can sometimes help.

There are ways through grief and even the possibility of grief without trauma.  George Buonanno writes about healthy sadness and processes of grief:  “Fortunately nature has provided a built-in solution (to grief).  Rather than staying sad for long periods of time, our experience of the emotion comes and goes.  It oscillates.  Over time the cycle widens, and gradually we return to a state of equilibrium.”  (The Other Side of Sadness)   The support of people who are authentic and unafraid to be with death, grief, their emotions or yours is also key. 

I don’t mean to say that any of this is easy, that there is a magic formula, a “right way” to do this or that we can fail. Only to help see grief as process, and the pain not a destination or a tragedy but an aspect of relationship evolution. With a better map sometimes things are just more bearable.