Waves of Grief ~ Oceans of Gratitude

“The cure for anything is salt water — sweat, tears, or the sea.” ~ Isak Dinesen

It’s been too long since I’ve been in touch on the blog…this past year has been intense…full of joy, full of sorrow.  So many transitions, births and deaths.  So, on this second day of spring, I wanted to send you blessings, gratitude, love. I do hope that you, like myself, are enjoying a sense of renewal, and planting new seeds for whatever it is your heart desires.

I also want to share with you an experience from a few days ago.  The ocean is a great healer, so able to receive and transform the deepest grief.  This past Friday was the one-year anniversary of my sister’s husband’s passing, so some of her family and I went out on her boat to the Coronado islands to release the remainder of his ashes, and the remainder of our parent’s ashes into the ocean.

The night before our little journey, I had made a despacho, an offering of flowers and sweets, to the spirit of the Pacific Ocean, the Mother of the Waters, loaded with prayers for our loved ones that have passed, and each of our family members still here.


The sky was dark and gray as we boated out of the harbor, and began to clear as we approached the islands. Seals, a dolphin, and three gray whales were spotted as we made our way out. The sun came out in full upon our arrival at the little cove off the coast of Baja, and the water was the most stunning color of blue-green.

We began a spontaneous, from-the-heart memorial ceremony on the boat, and then released each of the three containers of ashes into the water, followed by the despacho. The way the ashes moved through the water, and the luminous colors that formed were stunning. We were mesmerized by their movement and the shapes they made as they travelled through the water.  We said our goodbyes and began to make our way back, a scenic tour of the little islands.

Then something truly thrilling happened. A young humpback whale appeared and breached. Then he breached again, and again, and again…over and over the whale breached, and slapped the water with his pectoral fins. For about 20 minutes the whale was in our vicinity, and jumped out of the water at least 20 times, for about 20 minutes. None of us had ever seen anything like it, a single whale breaching so many times in a row. I believe the whale was an expression of Spirit, of the water; and an embodiment of Lorton, my sister’s beloved husband, my niece and nephew’s wonderful dad.  He had a message of encouragement and love, letting us know that he, and all, is well, joyous and free. And he is right there, on the other side of the veil.

I wanted to share our journey in pictures…






















May the Mother of the Waters wash us clean,

with waves of her infinite compassion.

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  • Jessica Swift March 22, 2016, 6:22 pm

    This is so beautiful, Barbara! What an incredible experience that must have been. The photos are stunning. Sending lots of love.

    • Barbara Swift March 22, 2016, 7:43 pm

      Thank you, Jessica! Lots of love right back, and a big squeeze for Coen.

      • Sandra Harrick March 23, 2016, 5:45 pm

        Your heart is one that feels, therefore it learns, knows and remembers. I am touched by how profoundly you allow pain to grace your heart, embrace it with love at such a level it brings mercy. I have always loved you for your gift of feeling Barbara, you are someone who has never ignored intense pain or joy of loving. You are a gifted teacher and a magnificent healer. I am honored to know you. Love to you and all you are, Sandy

        • Barbara Swift March 23, 2016, 7:03 pm

          Oh my gosh, Sandy, thank you for your beautiful words. I adore you, and have profound gratitude for you and your incredible teaching and healing gifts.
          Sending you lots of love, always. xo

  • Ingrid Hilyer March 22, 2016, 8:53 pm

    That was beautiful !

    • Barbara Swift March 22, 2016, 9:11 pm

      Thank you, Ingrid! It’s always so nice to hear from readers…blessings on your journey.

  • Lauri Burrier March 23, 2016, 7:55 pm

    Barbara, what a beautiful day to share with the rest of us. Thank you!!! I took my sister’s ashes to St. John USVI a couple of Christmases ago. We rented a sailboat for our ceremony as she loved both Cruz Bay and sailing so much. I’m sure it was a place of true rebirth for her. Thank you for taking me back to that bittersweet moment of sharing love with family and that great mother ocean from whence we’ve all come. XOXO

    • Barbara Swift March 24, 2016, 4:13 pm

      Yes, the Mother Ocean, her salty waters, is the perfect re-birthing place…thank you, Lauri.

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