By Leesa Collett
I loved my mother with all my heart. When she died a few weeks ago I was devastated, adrift in a sea of emotion that threatened to swallow me whole. I liken it to a tsunami. The first wave was huge and left a massive field of destruction. It came out of nowhere. I struggled to breathe, to hear, to focus. And the waves kept coming. Some were huge, some smaller, but they kept coming. They kept striking the parts of me that were wounded, unrelenting, not allowing me time to rebuild my broken parts. I felt lost and I didn’t have my mother to turn to. How could I possibly make it through such pain without her?
The days turned to weeks, and still I mourned her passing. I was reminded that she wasn’t lost; I didn’t lose her. Her body had died, but all that was important lived on in a different dimension. I saw her and heard her. My philosophy, my religious up-bringing, my personal experience and my spiritual understanding all confirmed that her essence lived on. I knew that she wasn’t lost, which is to say that she was where she was meant to be. She may have experienced some initial confusion, but she figured it out and is on her way home to the Light. No, she wasn’t lost; I was. It was I who didn’t know where I was. This bone-deep, all-encompassing grief was new territory. The tsunami had washed away all my familiar landmarks. I needed to figure out where I was mentally, emotionally and physically in my grieving and come up with a way out.
Knowing that my mind, my emotional body and my physical body were all grieving helped. It was oddly comforting to realize that I was experiencing the pain of three bodies as opposed to one body’s intense pain. With this realization, I decided to tackle my mental pain first as I figured I had more understanding of and control over what I thought than what I felt. My thoughts revolved around my loss. I was grieving for myself, my loss. Mom was not in pain. She was in a wonderful place full of love and peace. So, I focused on being happy for her rather than on reliving what I imagined her last moments to be. Then, gradually, I shifted to seeing her last moments as a gift. She was given the blessing of a quick, painless death. (I know it was painless because she told me so.) Still, tormenting thoughts keep racing through my consciousness. If I’m sick, I’ll never again hear her concern. I’ll never again receive a birthday card from her. I’ll never again feel her hand on my cheek. I’ll never again discuss spirituality and politics with her. I’ll never again hear her wise advice. Never again. I, I, I… These are my issues, not grounded in anything but an abject sense of loss. It is my sense of having lost something vital that is causing this pain. Knowing the basis of the pain gives me a target, something to aim at, something to repair. Each time a painful thought appears, I can counter it with a positive thought, a thought based in reality rather than emotionality.
The emotional body operates under a different set of rules. It feels without logic or control. Out of nowhere the emotions flood in, overwhelming, blocking out all rational thought. They’re ninjas. They strike without warning. I can be having an OK day when suddenly I see or hear or smell or feel something and in an instant I’m in tears. Initially, the grief was gut-wrenching; like a knife to the heart it would take my breath away. The emotional body is designed to be self-healing, but it needs time to do so. It can’t heal if I’m holding onto the grief. It’s like a physical wound. Imagine you have a gash on your leg. It will eventually heal, but if you keep picking at it, it will take longer to return to normal. In a grief counseling session I learned an invaluable technique. Each time I feel a swell of emotion, I immediately call up an image of a time I was angry. I have two go-to images that work like a charm. It helps me to have an image preloaded so I don’t have to fight through the emotional onslaught to find one. This has given my beleaguered emotional body breathing room to begin the healing process.
Then there’s the physical body. I was given some techniques to help assuage its sense of loss, but I haven’t used them, yet. For me, a visualization helps. I see myself in a deep, dark cave. It’s cold, wet, rocky and the terrain is uneven. At first, all I could see ahead was a tiny point of light. But I pushed myself toward it, always moving toward the light, never looking back. Sometimes the journey forward was slow and difficult; sometimes it was easier. This let my body know it would be OK. There was a way out of the cave. Over the past few weeks, the point of light has grown larger. I will make it out of the cave.
As a student of metaphysics, I know that there is no “lost.” Everything is energy and energy cannot be lost, only transmuted. Still, understanding the permanence of energy in the abstract does not lessen the grief we experience in “losing” a loved one. This understanding must be internalized and realized as surely as we know there is a grand design to the Universe, or it won’t be useful when the tsunami strikes. In my experience, which is on-going, utilizing the above-mentioned techniques, combined with a new-found cognizance of the permanence of energy, has brought me from “lost” to “found.”