“We need another name for those of us with children in the afterlife.”

This suggestion came in an email from my dear friend Irene Vouvalides while discussing my upcoming book with our friend Elizabeth Boisson.

I found it no coincidence that she and Elizabeth had raised an issue I had been grappling with while reading through the finished manuscript of Still Right Here, my soon-to-be-released book about families with a child who has passed.  Elizabeth is the co-founder of Helping Parents Heal, an organization whose stated purpose is to assist bereaved parents, giving them support and resources to aid in the healing process.  Irene serves on the board of directors of this amazing support group that goes a step beyond other groups.  Helping Parents Heal openly encourages discussions of spiritual experiences and evidence of the afterlife.

Unlike other grief support groups, Helping Parents Heal meetings are often uplifting events.  Most members of Helping Parents Heal eventually come to know that our children who have passed continue to be active members of our families.  Members who are farther along in their healing journeys serve as examples to others that we need not remain forever in a state of grief.  In fact, as I put on my creative hat to come up with a new term to replace “bereaved,” I realized that with the awareness that life is eternal, we move from bereaved to relieved!

Knowing that the greatest insights come when we seek guidance from Higher Consciousness, I closed my eyes and aligned with my guides, Sanaya.  I asked them to give us an uplifting term that more adequately describes those of us with children in the spirit world.  I set the intention that the term would not downplay or deny our physical loss, but acknowledge our awareness that our loved ones in spirit continue to play an active part in our lives.

As I awaited a response, several texts arrived from both Irene and Elizabeth.  One of them suggested “Angel Mom,” but we needed a term that didn’t perpetuate stereotypical images of the afterlife.  A few highly evolved souls may advance directly to the more refined angelic realms after completing their earthly lessons.  Most spirits in the astral realm, however, continue living, learning, and growing in their new world much as we do here.[1]

As we bounced ideas back and forth, I marveled that our traditional vocabulary doesn’t allow us to express our new status in anything less than depressing terms.  I realized that we needed an entirely new term.  I thought about my relationship with my step-daughter Susan, and realized that the term “step-parent” made no logical sense.  The meaning of “step” had to be explained the first time a person heard it.

This line of reasoning led me to think about a group I now belong to:  the Gold Star Parents.  The term represents mothers of a child who was killed or died while on active duty in the military, like our Susan.  Ty and I proudly display a red and white rectangular sticker on our car with a gold star in the middle to indicate our status as Gold Star Parents.  While sobering, this symbol and the term “Gold Star Parent” imbue us with pride in our daughter’s service as a Marine.  Why couldn’t we come up with a unique term to replace “bereaved parents” and educate those who hear it about its positive new meaning?

As so often happens, the moment we stopped trying to find such a term, the space created in the silence allowed room for higher insights.  “Shining Light Parents,” dropped into my mind like the gift from above that it was, and I instantly knew we had a winner.

I texted Irene and Elizabeth as fast as my thumbs could peck out the letters.  “It has a great double meaning,” I wrote excitedly.  “Our children are beautiful shining lights, and as we come to know that they’re still right here, we become shining lights for others on the journey!”

“It’s so uplifting!” Irene texted back.  “No heaviness, no sadness or sorrow.”

“I love it!” Elizabeth wrote, casting her vote.

I knew our kids had a say in this as well, and I sent a wave of gratitude to them and my guides just as a final text arrived from Irene.

“I am beyond happy about this!” she wrote.

I smiled, thinking back to a recent conference she and I attended in Arizona.  Five hundred kindred souls gathered to share and learn about the latest research and discoveries in afterlife communication.  The feeling of love among those gathered was palpable and noticed by those new to such an event.  Yet one small group stood out from the rest for their frequent laughter, joyous energy, and enviable camaraderie.  Their lights shined so brightly that others began to call them “the happy group.”

While I was sitting with this group, a friend walked up to me and asked, “Who are these people?”  The  unspoken follow-up to her question was “And why are they having more fun than everyone else?”

“Well,” I said, “they’re here to celebrate their kids and to learn new ways to strengthen their connection with them across the veil.  They’re all members of Helping Parents Heal.”

My friend’s eyes widened and she visibly shrank back.  I smiled gently, understanding.  My friend is a mother, and no one would consciously choose to join this group of . . . what?  Bereaved parents?  Hardly.  Throughout the weekend this band of courageous souls stood out as the Shining Lights they are, radiating strength, inner peace, and most of all love. They are parents on a mission:  to help others heal through the awareness that those who pass are still right here and that love unites us all.

Elizabeth, Irene, and I are well aware that those who are healing from a recent passing often cannot imagine ever smiling again.  Trust us, we’ve been there.  During the initial stages of grief, it is not you, but your child in spirit who is the Shining Light.  In that regard, identifying yourself as a Shining Light Mom or Shining Light Dad acknowledges that your child’s bright light will always shine in your heart.  It is their light that keeps you going.  In the beginning, we are the parents of a shining light, and yes, of course you are bereaved.

Moment by moment however, thanks to the unmistakable signs from our children across the veil, the undeniable synchronicities, and the support from others who have been on the journey longer than you have, you begin to feel the light within yourself once again.  You no longer feel resentful of the formerly bereaved parents who smile and laugh.  In fact, from time to time you find yourself doing the same.  You begin to shine again, and your child on the other side of the veil rejoices in your growth.

And then one day, a newly bereaved parent approaches you and says, “I see how far you’ve come, and seeing you gives me hope.  I’m not where you are just yet, but I want to be.”  It is in that moment that you realize that yes, you are the parent of a Shining Light, and you are also a parent whose light shines for those who need to find their way.  It no longer feels right to call yourself a “bereaved parent.”  You have graduated to full status as a Shining Light Parent.

The death of a child transforms us.  At first it feels like the end of the world, until you learn that your loved one lives on in a world that interpenetrates our own.  In my unexpected work as a medium, the irrefutable evidence shared with me by thousands of souls who have passed has proven to me that death is merely a transition to another reality.  We naturally mourn the lack of instant communication and the physical presence of our children, but as we grope for answers and understanding we find unexpected gifts.  One of the greatest of these is the fact that our human nature is only a small part of who we really are as eternal souls.

Life is about the ongoing growth of the soul, whether here or in the hereafter.  The light of the soul may grow dim temporarily as you face life’s inevitable challenges, but that spark never goes out.  Your shining lights on the other side know each other now by their radiance, and they see yours.  May we celebrate the eternal life of all of those who have passed by making every effort to turn up our lights in their honor.

* * *

The symbol shown here is the winner of an online contest for a symbol to identify and honor Shining Light Parents and their Shining Lights across the veil.  The plan is for the term and the logo to become known and recognized worldwide as a positive symbol of the brave souls who are walking one of the toughest paths life has to offer.  To that end:

  • We have asked a famous country music singer and songwriter to find the inspiration to write a song about Shining Light Parents and their shining lights across the veil. Let’s hold the vision for a #1 hit to make the term go viral!
  • We will have stickers and pins with the Shining Light Parent logo available soon, most especially at the first annual Helping Parents Heal conference in Scottsdale, Arizona, April 13-15, 2018. For more information about this uplifting and informative conference, visit http://www.helpingparentsheal.org/2018-conference/
  • We ask you to start using the term as often as possible on social media and in your circle of friends, and to introduce bereaved and Shining Light Parents to HelpingParentsHeal.org and the Helping Parents Heal online Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/groups/helpingparentshealonline/
  • For a printable PDF that describes “What is a Shining Light Parent,” click here.

[1] For a fascinating account from Sanaya of what life is like after transitioning, I invite you to read my e-book “Awakening,” available as a free download on my homepage at www.SuzanneGiesemann.com