Showing Up


I am meeting the people in Sedona I thought I would meet. Kindred souls. For instance, there is the lady shaman, who talks to animals. I asked her to help me with my cat, Dorian Gray, who isn’t terribly happy about our situation. Back in Maryland, where I came from, Dorian was a free-range cat. He came and went as he pleased, and gladly suffered the price of freedom (wounds from captive prey and subsequent shots from the vet). He was king of the neighborhood.

Dorian is confined now to a two-bedroom condo with a small patio out back,  newly screened in. And here’s the thing: he howls. His howling is loud and other-worldly, awful and weird. I’m always afraid the neighbors are going to call the police, fearing someone is being murdered. He starts out of my sight, in another room. (The middle of the night is the worst!) As soon as I appear, he stops and meows like a normal cat. Luckily for me, he did this during the shaman’s visit. “He’s having a temper tantrum,” she said. Whew. I thought he was suffering some awful psychic pain. Dorian is, after all, eating well, eliminating VERY well, and in between yowls, playing with rubber bands and a fishing rod with a mouse on the end. The shaman looked at him and said, “There’s a new sheriff in town now, Dorian.”  The bottom line is, she’s going to work with him. And me. I need as much work as Dorian does. The fact is that I have spoiled him. A good cat whisperer, like any other whisperer, knows that there is as much work to do with the “mommies” as with the animals. And so I am presented with another occasion to look to myself, to admit my part in this play, and to remedy it. I have to show up for duty.

But I have a new friend. The shaman and I talked for hours. She told me stories about herself and her practice of healing, and I told her my story, of channeling my spirit guide, Lukhamen, and how that whole experience saved my life after the death of my son. They call Sedona the Mecca of Spirituality, a place where these kinds of conversations are not extraordinary. I knew that before I moved here. This is why I am here, to meet and connect with people who have had similar life experiences. To be encouraged. To experience more. To write the second book.

This morning, I met a woman who was in grief. A sister she’d raised like a daughter had just lost her husband in a car accident, and her heart was broken for this sister, and for herself. She had, after all, lost her brother-in-law. I shared my story with her, telling her of the loss of my son and my husband. Afterwards, she turned a face full of pain to me and asked so innocently, “What can I do to help my sister?” She had said before that she had assigned herself the jobs of filling her sister’s dishwasher and taking out the garbage. “Just be with her,” I said. “Just be there. Fill the dishwasher and take out the garbage. Just being with her will be enough.” She thanked me with relief and tears in her eyes. Just keep showing up, I guess I was saying.

I had my own moment of loss on Thursday. It was the seventh anniversary of my husband Bill’s passing over. And I remembered the wise, loving people who surrounded me afterwards. Our children, of course, and dear friends. And what they did and what they said was perfect. They were just there. And in the making of food and talking about ordinary things, there was perfect love. Someone came and filled my house with flowers. She didn’t say anything, just came with flowers and vases and put them all over. I will never forget that, Nancy. A friend came all the way from Brussels and just sat with me on the porch, rearranging flower pots to give our guests more sitting room. Ordinary things. But staying close. That’s what we need. Just the physical presence of love. Just the sight of the faces we love. There is no cure for grief, except time. There is loss, and there is that space. But, in time, some of us come to realize that there is no death. There is only life. And that, in those times of loss and pain, showing up is an act of perfect love.

Yes, I am in Sedona, that magical, sacred place among the red rocks, and wonderful things have already started to happen. I have a new friend, a shaman who knows that there is no death. She came to help my cat and stayed to help me. On Monday, I will visit my other shaman friend, the one who pulled grief from me six years ago. I am going to retrieve two beautiful rocks he found for me in the desert, one white, one black. He said he would save them for me until I had a place here. Now they have a home.

I still have boxes to unpack and pictures to hang, but there is no doubt that I am where I belong. All I had to do was show up.


Read The Messenger: The Improbable Story of a Grieving Mother and a Spirit Guide by Helen Delaney. Find it at or

The Messenger IMG_0416


2 thoughts on “Showing Up

  1. Hi Helen.
    Your words remind me of the time just before Andy’s funeral when people came to be with us. Just to be here for us. Bob cooked and cooked. We ate his soup and talked about everything under the sun. As a family this was the beginning of healing but I didn’t know that yet. I’m so glad to hear you are doing well in Sedona. ❤️


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