The following musings will hopefully help other mothers and fathers who have experienced loss and grief of children through estrangement and difficult circumstances. This feeling of loss and grief is often overlooked, not accepted, or disregarded. For those of us who feel this, our loss is real and our grief runs deep. This is also relevant to anyone who feels a deep sense of loss that is unexpressed or not accepted. Grief is personal. Grief is experienced when someone or something that is deeply meaningful is no longer a part of our world.
Meditating this morning and sitting with (physical) pain in my eyes (not a good sign for me), a realisation that I have had before in similar circumstances flooded my head and heart. The eye condition has been with me for around 30 years. At times it has progressed to limited vision in one or both eyes to a point of blindness. (Thankfully I have been blessed on several occasions with the recovery of one eye.) The times of blindness coincide with deeply impacting life events: the first time with the loss during pregnancy of my youngest child, which coincided with the loss of my two beautiful living children through choices I made. The loss of my two children was not total at the time, and overtime it became so.
This morning as I sat with the present eye discomfort and thoughts of the last three days when I have felt this eye pain, the thought occurred to me of what I have been pushing aside; I often do this without realising it. This is a recurring situation where fear, sadness, guilt and shame all arise and meld together into a deep sense of grief. This is an experience I thought I had learned to be with. However, this morning I realised I have just learned to push it aside in sneaky ways. Current events have brought this situation into the forefront of my life again.
As an aside, it has come to my attention over the last few years as I navigate this journey of motherhood, its joy and pain, just how many mothers are estranged for a myriad of reasons and circumstances from their children. Each one of us has a unique experience and so do our children who remain distant. I do know this is not a blame game even though I have spent many years blaming myself. I have spent years with harsh feelings of blame or resentment towards others in this massively intense journey of loss. I am also aware of a lack of understanding from other people. Someone who didn’t understand my grief once said to me “They’re not dead!”; And yes thankfully, for my two older children that is true. However, there are times when I feel as if I am dead or at least a very big part of me has died. This is my loss and grief experience. I wonder how other mothers feel inside. I can only speak of my experience.
So, as I slowly let go of blame but not responsibility for my part in this intense dynamic I feel compassion for other people involved in this situation slowly creeping in. Each of us has a very personal perspective shaped by many influences. For some time now I realised I have to let go of having any control or influence in how the story will play out. The Serenity Prayer has been a major comfort and lesson for me. I feel serenity more often, courageous at times, and a wee bit of wisdom evolving into my head and heart. I also realise where there is life there is change ( I don’t like the word “hope”). Change is happening continually. I don’t know what the future holds for anyone. There is always a wild card among life’s ups and downs. The best plan is to be present in my life as it is right now accepting the richness of all experiences.
What I do know from practicing mindfulness is that I no longer wish to push these deep feelings aside, fill my days with an overload of work or study, and avoid living fully. This triggering situation will continue to arise until I no longer need to learn from it. As a result of my contemplation I am welcoming my feelings like an old friend (Thich Nhat Hanh), having an internal conversation about life, and getting to know my experience. My mindful acceptance of feelings as they arise helps me to self-regulate and not become overwhelmed and engulfed in grief or any other feelings that arise. So far my clarity is elusive. However, I am willing to stop pushing the feelings away and sit with them mindfully with kindness and compassion to myself and to the others who are a part of this co-created situation. We all suffer. I know that pushing anything away will not facilitate growth.
A quote from my journal this morning
“My thoughts of healing are not to stop the feelings of grief, my thoughts are to understand what I could learn from them.”
A mindful note – May we all learn to befriend that which ails us (and gives us joy), accept it, learn from it, heal, and welcome love, kindness, and compassion into our world.
I recognise and welcome the following intense feeling: I am so incredibly grateful to have brought these beautiful children in the world and grateful for the many amazing moments we have shared as a family. I am grateful that they have reached adulthood, and my deepest wish is for their happiness, good health, ease and grace.
Love and light to all.