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A Tarot Visualization Technique — Coping with the Death of a Loved One

February 14, 2015

In the comments section of a recent blog post (“Conversational Tarot — the Death card”) one of my readers mentioned that she would like to know that her mother forgave her for something. But since her mother is deceased, she probably wasn’t going to get to hear her mother tell her that until she too passed over. So I gave her this suggestion:

Find some quiet time and, in a meditative state, imagine a conversation with your mother. You can ask for her forgiveness there. I’ve helped people through this in face-to-face readings … You’ll be surprised how wonderful and effective it can be. … And now that I think about it, perhaps I should post the expanded process on my blog sometime.

Well, here it is. This is a Tarot visualization technique that I call “Coping with the Death of a Loved One.” It is something that I’ve used with people to great effect, and I have thought about writing a book with it and other such Tarot visualization techniques that I have developed. (I may get to that soon now that I’ve completed the re-edition and self-publication of “Tarot Spreads – Get the Whole Story.”) For now, you can read it here. (Constructive feedback is, as always, welcome.)

Coping with the Death of a Loved One

Five of Cups -- Tarot of the MastersSometimes the hardest part of dealing with the death of a loved one—whether a spouse, parent, child, or a close friend—is finding closure for unfinished business in our relationship with them. Often it is this unfinished business that keeps us from being able to say goodbye, since we fear severing that final thread that connects that person to us. But releasing doesn’t mean forgetting; it only means giving up an attachment. Finding a constructive way to let go of a person who has passed away can allow us to create a safe place where we can visit our memories of him or her as we choose, rather than being imprisoned by those memories and at their mercy. And it enables us to heal the wound created by our loss.

The technique that follows will help you find closure in a relationship with a loved one who has passed away. This will allow you to release your attachment to that person, resolve any relationship issues, and, in a seeming irony, it also helps you remember that person in a loving and supportive way. This remembering will create a sacred space within your heart for the lost loved one to live with you in peace, and that sacred space can replace what once had been a painfully wounded landscape of regret, blame, guilt, anger, or longing.

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STEP 1: Remembering

Start by going quickly through your deck, cards face up, and choose several cards that remind you in any way of the person you have lost. The cards you choose may indicate this person’s occupation, a hobby of theirs, a way that he used to interact with you, etc. You will probably end up with anywhere from three cards to one third of the deck. Try to narrow your selection down to about three to five cards that best evoke a memory of the person now lost to you.

Describe a memory that each of the cards evokes, or tell a story about the person based upon each of the cards. You can jot down these memories and stories, or you may want to record them or tell them to someone who is there with you to support you in this process.

Also, you may want to notice if there is a preponderance of one suit in the cards you chose. What might that say about the person you are remembering, or about your relationship with him? For example, having mostly Wands cards might say that this person was a fiery, energetic type of person, or that your relationship with him was marked by passion, competition, or contention. Coming up with many Cups cards might indicate someone who was loving and relationship-oriented, or that your relationship was an emotional one.

STEP 2: Releasing

Choose one of the selected cards wherein one of the figures in it might represent the person you have lost.[1] Then relax and do a “guided visualization” to enter into the card. (See https://jamesricklef.wordpress.com/2010/06/06/tarot-visualization/ for a detailed description of this process.) Once you have entered the card, engage in a conversation with the figure there who represents the lost loved one. Your conversation may be initiated in any of the following ways:

Ask her if there is anything she wants to say to you. Relax and wait for an answer. It may take a little while, but it will come.

If there is anything you want to tell her, do so. This could be something simple like, “I love you,” or it could be some secret you never shared with her but wish you had. And if there is anything you want to ask her, go ahead and ask, and then wait patiently for an answer. Again, it will come.

Realize that you may have some unacknowledged or unexpressed emotions about this person. For example, her death may seem like abandonment, or you may be dealing with issues of guilt or remorse about her death. It’s all right if such conflicts or negativity surface in this conversation. Try not to be dismayed. Instead, accept it and work with it, for it can help you exorcise any lingering demons that are keeping you from healing from this loss. Until you experience these issues and deal with them, they can haunt you in a variety of pathological ways.

Finally, once you are done with this conversation, thank this person and say goodbye … for now. Then end the visualization.

Note that the image on this card is only a trigger to get you started. Sometimes a visualization like this can take you out of the environment depicted in the card and into a very different location, often an actual one that you easily associate with this person.

STEP 3: Creating Sacred Space

With this process, you will have created a space within your heart where you can always come to talk to this person. You may want to affirm this sacred space by keeping the card you used someplace where you can see it often, letting it remind you of the process you have just completed. (It may help to place a picture of this person beside the card.) Let this card help you return to this place of peaceful sharing within your heart when you feel called to do so. Soon you will come to a point, however, where you will no longer need this card as a vehicle to transport you to that sacred space within. When that space—and your ability to go there—is well established, you will know it, and you will know it is time to put away the card.

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[1] Note that if none of the cards you chose depicts such a figure, choose one that illustrates an environment in which your loved one might be comfortable or in which she could easily have been found. When you engage in a visualization using that card, imagine this person entering this scene.

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