Awakening Goddess: Empowering the Goddess Within

As above, so below, as within, so without - every thing that we desire, and every thing that we fear, exists within us. This blog explores nourishing our dreams, committing to our highest values, and healing ourselves from the inside out: awakening and empowering the Goddess within our bodies, hearts, and lives.

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Dead and Back Again: Part 2 - Grief and Healing

While I was in labor with my stillborn baby, I remember telling my midwife that I spent the first thirty years of my life depressed and I would NOT allow this tragedy to drag me back there.  She smiled through her tears and told me I might not have a choice in the matter. 


On Grief and Grieving by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, says depression is a part of the grieving process, one of five stages.  She doesn’t mean that grief causes clinical depression.  She means that living in a state of apathy following a loss is normal.

I have every right to be sad.  It’s totally understandable if I choose to withdraw from the world.  No one having empathy or compassion would blame me for hurting right now, or being angry, for grieving.

But I don’t want to.

I have always comforted myself by believing that my suffering has a purpose – that I have suffered so that one day I could help other people to heal.  I didn’t know how, I just had faith that I would figure it out when the time came.

The time came shortly after I hit rock bottom, which I wrote about here.  Basically, I was left homeless with my one year old son, and I came far too close to becoming newsworthy in a bad way.  I had to choose in that moment to give up, or to get better.

Getting better meant committing to healing my mental and emotional damage, and quickly, before I damaged my son’s mind and heart.  I am currently writing a book about how I did that.  I succeeded in developing a skill set that changed the way I experience life.  I learned how to become aware of my feelings, thoughts, beliefs, and habits, and how to change all four, taking control of my life and changing it for the better.

For the last four years, I’ve been a totally different woman, loving my life, raising a compassionate, affectionate, amazing little boy who deserves a happy, healthy mother. When his brother died, I was determined to be that for him.

I was in the hospital for five days, and my son stayed with my sister for another week and a half after I got home.  During the days, other mothers in our community took care of him and took him on homeschooling field trips, let him play with their kids. Then at night he snuggled with my sister and asked for me.  We were all worried that my son might seriously hurt me as I recovered from the surgery and the hemorrhage, so I only saw him for a few hours some days, and some days I didn’t seem him at all. 

Those were the hardest days of my life.  For ten months I’d prepared for becoming a mother of two – selling my mobile home and moving into a much safer rental in a better neighborhood; organizing all the gifts for the baby and putting aside Aiden’s old toys and clothes to pass on to his brother; changing the focus of my work from primarily in person to primarily online so I could continue my work while being a stay at home homeschooling single mom. 

Suddenly I found myself alone in an empty house, freshly cleaned and organized by friends, with new donated furniture, the baby stuff hidden away in the garage, while I grieved my loss and missed both my boys.

In those early days, other mothers visited me, usually bringing meals and the gift of their company.  I appreciated the caring, but found myself slipping into the role of entertainer when people were around.  Most of my mourning happened when I was alone.

But I did grieve.  Whenever the pain welled up, I let it out.  I did not let myself get stuck in an endless loop of hurtful thoughts, though.  I would notice the thoughts, then focus on breathing the pain out as I cried.  I slept when I felt like sleeping, read or watching TV when I felt like distracting myself, wrote when I needed to express myself, and talked about what had happened, what I’d lost, how much I missed my six year old, every chance I got.

The memorial was beautiful. My sister-of-the-heart put it on for me.  She gave my immediate family the opportunity to speak, and then gave everyone who came the opportunity to lay a flower on the altar and give me the words in their hearts.  I felt bathed in love.  I felt overwhelmed with gratitude at these wonderful people, pouring out their love for me and my precious ones.

A couple weeks later I attended a women’s healing retreat that my midwife hosts biannually.  It was an entire weekend with other healers, immersed in love for each other, with fantastic vegetarian food, lots of singing, conversation, ceremony, and art.  One healer spent three hours that Saturday performing acupuncture and energy work on me.  It was the most intense and effective healing session of my life so far.

The part that stands out most was when she used her voice and hands to guide my spirit fully into my body.  Since trauma I experienced as a young child, I’d existed primarily in my head.  In the early part of my labor, when we’d put the sensor against my baby’s head and still gotten no heart tones, I’d felt as if my spirit slipped up and to the left.  That was the physical sensation of going into shock, I think.  From that point until the healing session at the retreat, I felt like the bulk of my consciousness existed just above my head and left shoulder.

Using her hand over each chakra, starting at the crown, the healer asked me if I could feel myself there.  I could easily feel myself in my crown, my third eye, my throat – my connection to Divine, my intuition, my ability to communicate and understand – but when she got to my heart, I couldn’t remember what it felt like to really be there, to fully feel my being in my heart.

It took some effort to feel fully inside my heart, then my core, my navel, the root of my body, my feet, and finally deep in Earth.  For the first time in my memory, I existed fully in my body.  I could feel myself in my feet.  I’d thought I’d known what grounding and centering had felt like before all this happened, but before that weekend I think I’d been grounding into my heart chakra rather than into the earth.

That night we went into the sweatlodge, and halfway through, the bones of the lodge broke right above my head, and the blankets fell on me.  I spent the second half cocooned in those blankets.  A sweatlodge is already like a sauna on crack, and the second half I felt like I was inside a sleeping the sauna on crack.  Emerging from the lodge around one in the morning felt even more like a rebirthing than any I’d previously attended.

I left the retreat the most healed I’d ever felt in my life.  I glowed. I felt joyful.  I felt connected with both of my boys, fully present with their love and my love for them.  My son’s ashes and image took center stage on my personal altar, and then the main altar in the family room.  I knew I would never forget him, and it no longer hurt to look at him, so I kept him right out in the open, sending him love and feeling his love whenever my eyes settled on him.

When grief came up, I felt it.  I cried, I breathed, I missed him, and then I filled my heart with love and nurtured myself.  I was able to take three months to grieve without worrying about making money.  My only jobs were to take care of myself and my six year old.  I felt overwhelmed with gratitude for that opportunity, for the outpouring of love I’d received, for not having to survive what I survived all alone.

I wish I could say that I have learned some simple, easily taught formula for getting over grief with as much grace as possible.  I have managed to find peace and acceptance more quickly than I ever could have imagined, in part because of the love that has surrounded me, and in part because of the skills I’ve mastered over the course of my life.  I have learned how to be my own mother, and my own wife.  I have learned how to ask for and accept help when I really, really need it.  I have learned to be fully present with whatever I am feeling, because, as several friends have told me, the only way out is through.


A huge part of healing grief is sharing our stories over and over, and laughing and crying with people who share our love and have compassion for our loss.  Thank you for giving me the opportunity to tell my story.  Thank you for sharing in my experience.


Next week I am going to write about what it means to be my own wife – as a woman healing, as a single mother, as a healer.  Until then, take care of yourself, and blessed be.

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Ashley Rae published her first book, a memoir, in 2012, and has been a professional psychic, healer, and teacher since 2003. Ashley's goal in life is to help you empower the divine spark within yourself so that you can love yourself freely, make your life awesome, and make this world a more beautiful, compassionate place. Visit her website to check out her other blog, find out her schedule, book an appointment and register for her classes.


  • Niki
    Niki Tuesday, 16 June 2015

    Thank you so much for sharing your grief. So many people don't know how to share it or that they can.

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