My Mom Passed Away 5 Years Ago, So I Connected With A Spiritual Medium To Figure Out How To Live The Rest Of My Life Without Her
For the majority of my life, I always felt like I had a "dual citizenship" with spirituality and religion. While I was brought up in a Latin household where Christian values were imprinted on me on a daily basis, I often found myself drifting into the agnostic world to get away from the binary ideals of what is the right and wrong way to live or the idea that heaven and hell exist.
Even though my mother wasn't a huge fan of her daughter no longer believing in an afterlife or religion in general — after all, she was brought up in a Latin household, too, where Jesus was the main character — she valued me being independent and having good principles more than sticking with a religion I didn't connect with.
But this wasn't just a one-off thing my mom did. Throughout our relationship, instead of making assumptions or judging my choices, she'd often check in and discuss the matter at hand to get a better understanding — and I truly believe this made our relationship strong.
My grandma, on the other hand, had a harder time with this. And even though she was my other mother figure who I also loved dearly, it was something that we agreed to disagree on. Of course, telling an abuela that you're not sure what you believe in is a sin in and of itself.
However, for 28 years, I did believe that once you left this Earth, you were gone for good aka no spirit, no soul, no nothing — that was until my mother passed away in 2017, and I began to question everything.
There's a weird mental shift that occurs when you lose a loved one — especially when it's a parent or parental figure. The thought of someone you knew since the day you were born abruptly disappearing from your life forever just doesn't seem right or fair. What do you mean I can never speak to them again? What do you mean I can never hold their hand, give them a hug, or tell them I love them? Make it make sense.
For years, my mom was my sense of purpose — and now that she's gone, she has become my legacy. My mom had the sense of humor of Lucille Ball, the facial structure of Susan Sarandon, and the empathy of a thousand self-help books.
You could spot her a mile away due to her fiery red hair; her raunchy, dirty jokes; and her jubilant laugh. So when a burning blaze like hers goes out in an instant, it's hard not to still feel her energy around as I try to live life in the smog and smoke glitter that was left behind.
So for the past five and a half years, I've been evaluating my relationship with spirituality and grief. While I still don't consider myself religious, I can't help but find myself getting curious about what exactly happens to us after we die — and this got impacted even more when I lost my grandma a year later.
I know this could just be another way to comfort my grief, to make myself believe that one day I'll be able to see my mom again. But I also believe she's already been with me this whole time, and that's something I haven't been able to shake. Just like what Luna Lovegood from Harry Potter said: “The things we lose have a way of coming back to us in the end."
So I figured after five years without my mom, I wanted to check in with her — through a spiritual medium — just like she did with me when she was here on Earth. Just like her, I didn't want to judge or assume her experience; I just wanted to get curious about what her potential "new life" has been like on "the other side" — because why not? I have nothing to lose since I already lost her.
The spiritual medium who was my liason to my mother was Erika Gabriel. While Erika has been doing this for 15 years, this was my first time connecting with a medium — and I was kind of (okay, really) nervous. But after the first 10 minutes of our Zoom call, my ears started to perk up and my shoulders started to relax because Erika began talking about a person that, in fact, did not sound like my mom but rather my grandma.
There's something unique and turbulent about a mother-daughter relationship that's unlike any other connection on Earth. For most of us, our mothers become our very first best friends yet when we become older, it can be very easy for things to turn sideways when misunderstandings, assumptions, and expectations come into play, especially in a Latin household where therapy is often not prevalent.
While my mother and I had a very close relationship, my mom often wished she had what we had with her own mother, my grandmother. My mom couldn't heal her relationship with her mom on this Earth, but at least she seemed to once she passed on — and that gave me all the comfort I needed.
But my mom wasn't the only one who needed healing, I did, too. Since my grandmother had certain expectations of how she believed I should be and live my life, we often battled with one another because all I wanted was to feel seen and heard, and all she wanted was to make sure I was going to be okay. And this dynamic has impacted how I navigate the world today (i.e. the lack of trust I sometimes have within myself, the second-guessing of which direction I should go, and so on). While my grandma took care of me for a good chunk of my younger life, I often felt judged for not doing what she wanted me to do — and luckily, Erika brought this up during our reading.
When I initially wanted to do a reading to see if I would connect with my mom, connecting with my grandma brought a sense of closure I wasn't expecting. And while it can happen with some readings, Erika told BuzzFeed it shouldn't be the goal.
"MOST of the time, no matter what anyone else may or may not say, (crossed over or not), they can not give you the closure or peace you are looking for, you have to ultimately do it within yourself," she said.
"While acknowledgment can feel great, we must be ready to find forgiveness in our own spirits," she continued. "Closure is between you and you. This may sound harsh or even strange coming from a spiritual medium whose trade is in closure but know that my main passion is helping you to see how utterly powerful YOU are. Whether you get the message from beyond or not, there is always a path forward within yourself."
Finding the power within oneself after a parent dies is a journey in and of itself. Without the guidance and support of a parent, you are thrown into a world where you have to figure everything out for yourself without a lifeline — and that can feel scary, lonely, and empowering all at the same time, especially when this loss happens at a young age.
Even though our parents may no longer be here on this Earth doesn't mean we've lost all sight of what they've taught us — if anything, we carry those principles and learnings with us as we get older, long after they're gone. It can just feel overwhelming to move on without them. "When someone very important crosses over, we can feel like the rug has been pulled out from under us. We may even feel like, 'What is even real anymore?' We can feel totally shaken and ungrounded," Erika said.
But even though it might be hard to move on, it's important to find ways to do so while still honoring your grief. "After 15 years of reading, one of the biggest messages from loved ones I hear over and over again is 'Please keep going,'" Erika said. "Your loved one is absolutely cheering you on, loving you, being proud of you, and supporting you from spirit. The last thing they want is to see you stuck and miserable in life. Remember, they had their opportunity to live, don't give up your dreams or life for their death. It is important that you don't stop living because they did."
Clinical psychologist and author of Joy from Fear, Carla Marie Manly agrees. "After a big loss such as the loss of a parent, it’s incredibly easy to feel unmoored and alone. When we lose a person who was a rock — a strong source of supportive love in our lives — it’s natural to feel lost," Manly told BuzzFeed. "Although I believe we are never whole again after the loss of a loved one, I believe that we can come to reclaim parts of ourselves that were lost during the grieving process. And when we allow ourselves to grieve fully, we can also find new aspects of ourselves through the depth of the grief and the enduring love we hold onto."
And even though it's been a little over five years since I lost my mom and I have developed a deeper understanding of how to live with grief and honor it, there are some things I'm still afraid to do or haven't done because of it. Yet, even though my mom has passed to the other side, she's still making sure that I don't get in my own way. “Don’t use my passing as an excuse to feel sad or be sad and not chase your life or do your life," Erika relayed the message from my mother. "Please tell her to focus on what she wants. Please tell my daughter, 'Please don’t play it small. Focus on what you want and don’t take no for an answer. Don’t take no; go for it. It’s time for you to move on.'"
After the reading, I've been reflecting on my relationship with my mom, my grandma, my grief, and my relationship with spiritually. While these two mother figures are no longer in my life, I feel the reading has allowed me to close a chapter of my grief to enter another.
Ever since my mom passed, I've been slowly loosening the braces that grief has been allowing me to lean on. When days feel tough, the "braces" have been keeping me upright to move forward while simultaneously giving me the space to be still and grieve. But now, I feel like it's time to shake off the last bit of support to live a life my mom would've wanted for me — to live a life despite her passing.