Ever since my mum’s birthday on September 17 the topic of grief has been popping up everywhere – in my social media feed, in conversations with friends, in random articles. Today is the day of my mother’s passing so I thought I would follow the synchronicity and check in with my own grief.
I find grief one of the more difficult emotions to transform. Once the breathtaking, heart-stabbing pain has disappeared it wraps itself like a soft numbing blanket around the heart giving the illusion that the worst is over and life must go on.
It is six years today since she passed. But how much time is enough time to “get over” your grief? Grief is not something that you can shake off like a fly that’s bothering you. It is more like a thread that weaves itself into your very being. It becomes part of you. And every time you experience a loss – big or small – it rears its head. Losing someone or something you cherish and love opens the floodgates of grief. And every ounce of unprocessed sadness washes up into your consciousness.
I think I was lucky.
When my mum passed I had already access to spiritual teachings which helped me to understand what was going on. And being there when she left made it very obvious that whatever was going on with her body did not really touch her essence, her soul, her spirit. That, which was still visible, was a shell that was no longer needed. However, I was attached to that form that has been around for 40 years of my life.
When my mum got sick with cancer I was also very surprised at how much death was still a taboo. When I told my aunt that my mother was dying she scolded me: “Don’t say that! You have to be positive!” Well, there’s a difference between being optimistic and being realistic. At that point, there was no way around acknowledging that her body was shutting down and that she was preparing to leave – already spending more time on the other side than on this one. I knew. She knew. And I knew she knew.
I asked my mum directly if she was scared of dying. And she replied: “No. I know that I have to go. My time is over.” I think at that moment I decided that I wanted to be with her when she did. I didn’t want her to die alone. Even if dying is probably one of the most solitary experiences we can go through.
It was a liberation for her. And one of the deepest spiritual experiences ever for me. I am grateful I had the emotional strength and support to be present and witness her journey. I remember the love. And the light. And how proud I was of her when she crossed over.
The hard thing about losing a parent – and I think especially a mother – is that this last ounce of innocence evaporates with them. It felt like I had lost my anchor in life. My biggest champion. The one person I always felt I belonged to just for being me. I never had to try to fit in with her. Standing alone I really had to grow up. And start to belong to myself.
I still miss her. And it is the small moments when I do most. The anticipation of seeing her sitting across from the arrival gate at the airport in Mallorca in a café waiting for me… What wouldn’t I give to see her face light up one more time…
So today, I am practicing my own medicine. I am grateful for the love and laughter we shared. I am remembering her kindness, her humor, her generosity and joy for life. I am honoring my emotions and sitting with my grief.
For me, it’s not an either/or situation. I am happy not despite of my grief. I am happy because I know how precious life is and how the joyful moments we experience bring meaning to everything we do.
I am happy because sitting with my grief I feel my heart beating even more strongly in my chest.
I am alive.
Today the darkness is soothing.
And full of possibilities.