Recently, a client called me and I could immediately tell that her voice sounded different. After a few sentences of greeting, she broke down and told me that her bird had died that day. The bird had been her companion for almost two decades. Here’s the advice I gave her:
For the first two months after a dear one has died, put their picture in a prominent, respectful place in the home. If possible, frame the picture and flank it with flowers and low lighting. The idea is to make it look almost like an altar. The reasoning is that if the spirit of the departed one happens to see their image in the home, they would realize that they were loved and cherished and sorely missed. The low lighting should be left on at night because that’s often the time when a spirit might be wandering around. (Yes, feng shui definitely proceeds under the assumption that there are indeed spirits that we can’t see.) For good measure, write the name of the person or pet on a piece of stiff paper and put that with the picture. Handwrite it as nicely as you can; the paper can be plain or fancy, but it should be nice paper. If you have your loved one’s ashes, they can also go with the picture.
When the two months have passed, dismantle the “altar.” The picture can go in a scrapbook or be displayed openly in your home, according to your preference. Ashes can be returned to the earth or water or kept respectfully in your home. Some people put the ashes in a beautiful container, but it’s okay if they are in a simple box. If the ashes are in a closet, they should be on a shelf that is at least as high as your heart, not a low shelf. This is a way of continuing to show respect.
Grief is not to be suppressed. It’s natural and healthy, and with this technique it’s put to productive use.