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Fragile Emotions or Coping with Grief and Loss

I lost my mother when I was 19 years old. I was no longer a child, but that didn’t make it any easier. In so many ways, I was still the little girl longing for mom’s cuddles. Her death wasn’t unexpected, it came after a long period of suffering and confinement to bed. 

When she died, everybody said: “It’s better for her there than here.” In spite of my Christian beliefs, my heart and mind rebelled against that: how can it be better there, when we don’t even know if there is anything there? At least here, she had the conscience of herself, that indescribably warm feeling inside, an array of familiar things, beings and beliefs that she could always turn to. And she had us, the people who loved her and whom she loved.

All I could see in front of my eyes was the dark grave, with the horrific chills it gave me, and the image of the body left alone in the ground to rot and be eaten by worms. How can that be better than this life? 

While she was still alive, I used to think I’d never be able to get over her death. However, another thing I experienced is that in the first few days after, God gives you a kind of strength you never thought you’d have. It’s like an anesthetic. You go through the motions, you do what you have to do, but it’s like somebody else were doing it and you were just a remote witness, watching from somewhere in the clouds.

You experience what they call “third person transposition”, you become your own witness from the outside. The pain is there, but it seems remote and diffuse like everything else, filtered through a lot of other immediate sensations. The power of “here and now” becomes so overwhelming that all you can do is go with the flow. 

I can remember the very moments before they put her in the grave. I knew people were looking at me, expecting to see me cry. I couldn’t. All I could do was pray in my mind that the sun came out of the clouds, because my mother loved the sun and she would have been very unhappy to know she’d been buried on a cloudy day. The sun did come out, just a few seconds before they laid the coffin in the ground. I guess that was one of the moments in my life when I felt God’s presence more than ever.

One thing I’ve learned after my mother’s funeral is that the real pain always strikes a little later, and when it does, it stays for a while, following you like a shadow for weeks, months and years to come. It becomes weaker as time goes by, but it never really goes away. The wound heals, but the scars remain until the day you die. It’s a little like rheumatism. In some days, it upsets you more than in others. And what it hurts the most are always the little things, the little memories that you didn’t even think you would remember.

That day in hospital when she looked so frail and innocent in her white woolen jumper.

The day when she was doing the washing and I was hanging the wet clothes on the rope outside, and we had such a great time together, making plans of moving to Australia, living on a farm and having a little cute kangaroo as a pet. 

That day, before Easter, when she said to me – and she had tears in her eyes: “I still can’t understand why he had to die.” She was talking about Jesus.

Her little thin hands after she lost almost 50 kilograms.

That summer morning when, being already ill, she listened to the songs of the birds and cried. Later, when she was telling me about that, she explained: “I was so impressed to hear the little birds singing. I could feel their happiness as they were preparing to welcome the sun.”

Even now, when I remember those words, I have tears in my eyes. How could a woman like that die? There are other things I can remember, other memories that once were unbearable and now still make me cry, but I would need a volume to write them all. 

A few weeks before she died, she wrote me a letter, a sort of good bye letter. I found it on her bed when I came home for the weekend. It starts like that: “I’m writing you this because you aren’t here with me now...” Imagine the impact those words had after she was gone. “I’m writing you this because you aren’t here with me now…” Here… Where? 

Every time I read it, it sounds more and more like a message from another world, a sign from far out there, from the mysterious lands awaiting us at the end of our journey here on Earth…

Don't Cry, My Child

Don’t cry, my child, the night is over,
And all the shadows fade away.
Lift up your face, my weary rover,
There’s no more need for you to stray.

Once you were lost in a dark forest,
With the cold tombstones of the dead.
You had no friends to share your sadness,
You had no place to lay your head.

The weight of life was overwhelming
And so was the pain in your heart...
Your only treasure was the longing
That secretly tore you apart.

Your dreams were more than you could handle,
As in your dreams the demons came.
With nothing but a smoking candle,
Your nights were more or less the same.

But then I called you from the distance.
You heard my voice, my silent cry.
I made you question your existence
And raise your eyes towards the sky.

I put you on the highest mountain,
Where fir trees shine covered in snow.
I turned your heart into a fountain
Where living waters ever flow.

From now on, you can face tomorrow
With a new light shining inside.
As I will take away your sorrow
And keep you always by my side.

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