How to Focus on the Gifts They Left Behind: A Simple Way to Think About and Honor Those Who Are No Longer With Us In Physical Form
In the United States, Memorial Day is a national holiday dedicated to remembering and honoring those who died while serving in the military. However, over the years, Memorial Day has also become a day to remember any loved ones who have passed away, regardless if they served in the military or not.
Although this holiday can be a somber occasion, it can also be an opportunity to realize that although these friends, mentors, parents, grandparents or even children are no longer with us in physical form, their unique gifts will stay with us forever .
How to Honor the Memory of Your Loved Ones on Memorial Day
What you’re about to read is my own experience with someone who passed away who meant a lot to me, how I choose to think about his life and death, as well as some simple practices you can do to honor the memory of YOUR loved ones.
The message my mentor left behind
In 1987, I met a man named Jack Boland, who ultimately became my mentor for five years. I was blessed to have Jack as my mentor because he was always ten miles ahead of me when it came to growing my awareness and fully expressing who I wanted to be and the gifts I wanted to bring into the world.
Jack was truly a master, not only at the work he had done and the difference it was making in the world, but also in his understanding of how results occur.
Every now and then, I would call him and say,
“Jack, I’m struggling with this. What do you think about that?”
He was always able to give me a way of thinking and a step to take that moved me in a whole new direction.
On March 4th, 1992, Jack suddenly passed away. In addition to being my mentor, Jack had been a mentor to Wayne Dyer and Les Brown, and the three of us felt that the date of March 4th was his last message to all of us; it was his way of saying, “March forth.”
The legacy of Jack Boland
Jack had asked that one-third of his ashes be given to me and the church I had founded, where I was doing the work that he had trained me to do and helped me grow in. One-third went to a recovery center that he had helped start, and one-third went to his own church that he had built.
Jack’s ashes came to me in a beautiful, brass urn. I placed that brass container on my bookshelf. My dream was to create a memorial rose garden for Jack.
So, the grounds crew went to work on this rose garden. It was a spiral rose garden, and we created a plaque with one of Jack’s quotes on it. That plaque would be cemented in the middle of the garden, and the plan was that Jack Boland’s ashes would be placed at the base of the plaque.
According to my plan, people would forevermore walk that spiral and see Jack’s last message, which was,
“The study of spiritual principles is the most important activity in life.”
To make a long story short, there was a big miscommunication between me and the gardeners. Everything had gone according to plan, except that Jack’s ashes weren’t put at the base of the plaque. Instead, they remained in my office.
A few days after I found out about the mix up, I was sitting in my office, worrying about something. I can’t remember what it was, but I remember thinking,
“Oh, Jack, if only you were here, I could call you. I could pick up the phone and I could call you for advice and support.”
Then something happened, as if I’d picked up the phone and called him. I suddenly heard his voice in my head, and I felt it in my heart.
“You know, I don’t wanna be stuck out there in a garden. I want to be in this office, sitting in the middle of every decision you make.”
To this day, I believe this was the kind of thing that Jack Boland would have said to me if he were there. And, just like that, I shifted back to what I knew to be true. I thanked him for reminding me.
In the end, that rose garden turned out to be a beautiful dedication to Jack, but Jack’s ashes stayed in that wonderful office where I continued working for many years afterward.
Your loved ones’ gifts will never disappear
For a moment, I invite you to think about Jack’s last message: “The most important thing is the practice of spiritual principles.”
When you truly understand the meaning of his message, it’s easy to recognize that there’s a gift in each and every one of us that we bring to this planet. This gift is uniquely yours – as unique as your thumb print!
The gifts that your loved ones give don’t have to leave when they pass away. This memorial weekend, you may make journeys to grave sites or to places where the physical remembrance of your loved ones are.
I invite you to consider that you make these journeys because doing so helps you feel like you can make contact. You know the person you loved isn’t there, but you get to have a moment of remembering – and this feeling can be powerful.
You can say,
“Yes, you lived a physical life and I’m grateful for the physical life you lived, but my relationship with you is not limited by the physical because who you are is so much more.”
When you begin to open up to the possibility that your loved one isn’t gone, and that they simply changed into a different form, you will be able to continue to deepen your relationship with them. One great way to do this is to invite that person to come sit with you to have a conversation.
At times, you may hear nothing, you may hear their voice, or be reminded of what they might’ve said to you or imagine what they’re saying to you now. Sometimes, people you love will appear to you in dreams, but often those aren’t like ordinary dreams. Those dreams can sometimes feel like real experiences!
And here’s the truth: No one will ever be able to convince you that you did not have a direct experience of that loved one.
And actually, it doesn’t matter what anyone else believes – you’ll know that your loved one hasn’t really died. You’ll know that they’re no longer in physical form, but who they are is as real as when they were in the physical dimension, which means they’ve never left.
Know this, you actually have a kind of connection that’s not of this world; it’s of heart, and there’s a golden thread between you and the one you love, no matter which dimension they’re in.
Today, I encourage you to gently tug on that thread and say,
“I’m thinking of you and I love you.”
If you wish to have a conversation, then invite your loved one into a conversation. And remember, death itself isn’t strong enough to take that love away.
And now I have a question for you…
What’s your favorite way to honor the memory of someone you love who has passed on? I’d love to read your answer in the comments section below!
Here’s to our great memories of all the wonderful beings who have moved on, and also to the love, gifts and lessons that continue to stay with us.
Happy Memorial Day
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