Love, joy and the end of my story.
Obviously it never happened to me before and so I was a bit surprised at the huge impact it has. A short while ago my mother died and my first reaction was a deep and abiding sense of gratitude that she died without pain and in a deep state of peace.
That was just the beginning. The blessing I have received daily since her passing are enormous.
First of all there is the love. This is what’s most important. There isn’t much to say about it, just to feel it, to go back to those exquisite times, especially in childhood, this sense of oneness and of being completely cherished and cared for.
When I go there now, I feel a sense of complete relaxation, a deep letting go. Perhaps you can follow me there. Bring up a memory with your own mother, a really good one, and savor it, step into it, feel it. Celebrating these memories can be an entryway into deep and complete comfort for you – as it has been for me. It allows us to relax down to the bones.
And grief doesn’t have to get in the way of this love.
From my experience I can tell that it’s not true that we have to grieve if a close relative dies. When I examine grief I see it comes from thinking that something should be different than it is.
Perhaps it is, “She should not have died.” What a delusion! Can I love reality as it is, or do I have to tell myself lies? She is dead. I now have the choice to accept it as the will of God or the universe, or I can have a war with reality. It’s up to me. Without such thinking, there is only deep peace.
Our stressful beliefs, our war with what is, that is the grief we perpetrate on ourselves. They come out of our basic confusion, and I am so grateful for Inquiry (‘The Work of Byron Katie’) because it showed me a practical way to become free of such unnecessary pain. I invite you to give it a try. It can be a profound gift.
Grief does not prove that I loved her. I know I did; I don’t need to prove it. I feel it. Without grief there is a deep joy that connects me with my mother past time and space.
And then there is ‘the other stuff,’ the difficult issues, the ways I experienced my mother as not easy to be around, her controlling anger, her ways of trying to live through me, and her stifling over-involvement in my life when I was young. Dealing with these matters has been particularly enlightening.
I began to examine my story that she was controlling and overbearing. And as I look deeply (using ‘The Work’), my stressful story dissolves. I just can’t find tangible proof for it. Inquiry is a laser beam that eradicates all thoughts that are not true in the deepest sense.
I want to know that deep truth that can set me free. I am not interested in living my life in the drama of my delusions, no matter how attached I am to them.
And from that deeper truth I see a woman who raised her child with great devotion, commitment and love. And I see that it was I who set limits to the amount of love I let in. I disturbed our relationship, the way I reacted negatively to her created my stress.
This insight was enormous. It ended my life-long story about the difficulties I had with my mother. Just like that – poof - gone. Complete forgiveness arrived in a flash of insight, or as Byron Katie says, “Forgiveness is when you realize that what you thought happened, never did.” I can tell you it took more than a moment getting used to it.
Suddenly I had lost a part of my (mistaken) identity. My ego had just loved that story! I could feel sorry about myself; feel superior and more spiritual than her. I could be the one who was enlightened to her unenlightened ways. And none of it was true. Not a shred.
This is how my mother, even after her death, is sharing some of her peace with me. It comes from the realization that none of my stressful thoughts about her are true. What a blessing and what a relief!
These principles apply to all stressful relationships. We carry the stress in our minds and once we deeply examine our thoughts, the stress dissolves and we are free. Then the heart can again breathe freely and we get to know what we are: beings capable of enormous love.