Tag Archives: death

Life is full or surprises

I have two mother in laws. And both of them have played an important role in how I have developed as a mother. Until recently I was mostly defending myself to them. And yet, I have come to appreciate both of them in different was and for different reasons.

One of them has just been diagnosed with cancer. Hence my absense from the blog. It has been an emotionally draining time as we waited for news and results from tests. It is looking good. It looks like she will not even need chemo now after the surgery. And this is the MIL with whom I have a strained relationship to say the least. And yet we were able to talk honestly and openly about life and about me loosing my mother and her being diagnosed with cancer. It is a cliche, but such life changing experiences really do put things into perspective. And I have gotten over my anger that my SIL did not have to deal with loosing her mother unexpectedly. The reality of loosing my mother was brought home to me when I saw the panic around me with my SIL thinking she *might* loose her mother.

My 2nd MIL is a woman with whom I have had my differences with regards to parenting choices. Yet, essentially she has tried to be supportive, even when she has called me extreme.

And it is this MIL who took the time to tell me how admiring she is of how I have chosen to mother my son. How I inform myself on the importance of nutrition, preventative measures for health, discipline that empowers my son, not belittles him etc. She really spoke from the heart about how much she admires me for doing what I feel is best for my family. We also spoke about my relationship with her son. And how much DH and I have learned and grown from each other and from being parents together. She respects our relationship so much and appreciates me in a way that I did not know. It felt so good to know that I am so appreciated and respected.

In turn I could be more open with her and explain why I am concered about plastic in my sons environment and that I am still trying to decide where ‘the line’ is that will inform me on decisions regarding having plastic in his life. And to share a bit more about why I chose organic foods where possible. We actually had a non threatening conversation on such charged issues.

Today is Yom Kippur. I still have not decided how I want to observe Yom Kippur. I’ll get there. This year is not the year for me to honestly consider what this day means for me.

But I did want to share my experience of a softening in relations between myself and two women who are significant in my life, even if we don’t see eye to eye.

I look forward to posting more frequently again. I am sewing a wonder box and look forward to posting pics and experiences.


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Please don’t tell me of another death

Freinds of ours just lost their little girl. She was due to be born in another two weeks. My friend, the expectant mother, had placental abruption at 38 weeks and now she is mourning the death of her unmet child.

My heart is breaking.

I am devastated for her.

I a devastated for myself and for my own loss.

I am not dealing with this that well at all.

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A little more on death and mourning

I am still functioning as a mother and my son continues to grow and blossom. I will get back to writing more about him and my mothering.

However, a friend of mine lost her husband to cancer a week ago. In the Jewish tradition, spouses, siblings and parents sit Siv’ah, a week of their community paying respects and supporting the family. Today was the last day of the Shiv’ah, and I was finally able to get out (we have had more than a week of a nasty stomach bug here at my home) and spend some time with her.

In 11 months she lost her husband.

And we shared some of what it means to love and loose someone, whether it is expected or unexpected. What you feel, what you experience.

I can still hardly get my head around my mothers death, it also seems so unreal that my friend is now mourning her husband. It really really just boggles my mind.

And yet, from our conversation, the huge importance of being able to live your life in a true way, expressing yourself freely – not living up to the expectations of others. Knowing who you are and being true to that. These are the things that seem to matter when you consider no longer being alive. And being grateful for what you do have.

Make good use of your life. Celebrate your life.

And yet, a part of me knows that it is useless to write these words. I think people already know this and written words aren’t going to make it new, or they don’t know it, and written words won’t make a difference. The intensity and passion with which you live your life is important. Your life is unique, special and valuable. Do not waste it. I had no honest grasp of this until my mother died.

I was speaking with my friend about my poor frustration tolerance and loosing my temper at things like something falling off the roof of the car when I have balanced it there while I put my son in his carseat. It is just too much for me to handle sometimes. My friend was surprised that I would be so frustrated. I guess it seemed out of sink with an attitude of living life with passion and being grateful for things that comfort me.

And yet I feel both. I do not have the energy to deal with small mishaps. I need things to go according to plan right now. I do not have the emotional reserves to deal with the unexpected. And at the same time I feel an urge to live my life fully and honestly.

To close off today on the rather disjointed entry, I am thinking of finding a way to express my mourning and grieving in a way that makes it real for me. I am still searching for the reality in what has happened and feel I need to connect. I am thinking of covering my hair for a period of time, as a way to honour my memory of my mother and not let her death be swallowed up in the continuity of life just yet. I’ll get there. In the Jewish tradition, children mourn their parents for a full year. I think there is wisdom in that.

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Wise words

“So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart. Trouble no one about their religion; respect others in their view, and demand that they respect yours. Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life. Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people. Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide. Always give a word or a sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend, even a stranger, when in a lonely place. Show respect to all people and grovel to none. When you arise in the morning give thanks for the food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself. Abuse no one and no thing, for abuse turns the wise ones to fools and robs the spirit of its vision. When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song and die like a hero going home.”
Chief Tecumseh, Shawnee Nation

I find more and more personal meaning in such words. I am getting it. Death is inevitable and the denial of it ever touching our lives is pure fallacy. Live your life as if today were your last, while planning to live forever. We all are going to die somehow, somewhere. Be proud of the life you have lived.

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On the Death of my Mother

Photo credit :http://www.norwalkhosp.org

29 days ago my mother died suddenly. She died during an asthma attack, but from her heart stopping, not from lack of breath. In the last 5-6 years she had been able to manage her asthma with diet, supplements and lifestyle. Only in the last 6 or so weeks of her life did she start to struggle again, to the point that she needed her nebulizer after years of it being stored away. The night before she died she was watching her favorite drama at the theater, The Mysteries put on by a South African director, his name eludes me. The day before she died she booked her ticket with my father for a post retirement trip to Zanzibar. Me and her also compared our knitting projects over skype. It was such an ordinary chat – nothing to prepare me for the phone call from my father the next morning to tell me that my mother had just died.

In many ways my deepest fear has been the loss of a parent. I just could not fathom managing that. My heart has always gone out to friends and aquaintances who have lost a parent/sibling, and I have never known what to say or do. It just seems to be such a huge injustice and I cannot fathom ever getting over such a loss.

Now I am on the other side. I have lost my mother. And while our relationship was far from perfect – it is still a mind boggling, numbing experience to loose your mother.

Now I know what to do when someone looses a loved one. Just acknowledge the death. Be there in an open way. If the recently bereaved want to talk they will, if not they won’t. Don’t push or deny or try and make it all better with some profound utterance of spiritual or philosophical magnitude. Of all the responses I have had around me, the most supportive have been an acknowledgement with an offer to help and a willingness to do whatever it is that is needed in that moment. No one can make it better or make the pain go away. But an acknowledgment goes a long way. The most distressing responses have been profoundly ‘stupid’ condolences about the order of life and heaven an profoundly happy experiences of death and dying.  But that is me. A sincere open ness to life beyond death is certainly not out of the question, but I dislike the platitudes.

I learnt so much about my mother as a person. I had always wanted to know more of who she was as a person, as that has eluded me. She was my imperfect mother.

I learned to see her through the eyes of her many friends and colleagues. I saw how profoundly important she was to so many people. I saw a beauty in her life story that has eluded me until this moment of gathering memories in a tribute to her life.

There are two things that I am deeply grateful for. One, is that my mother died at home with my father there. There was a flurry of activity to resuscitate her when the ambulance arrived after my father had tried to save her for 20 minutes. But beyond that brief interlude, my mother was surrounded by the people who loved her. Her husband and a bit later her son (my brother). The woman who came to prepare her for her coffin was a close friend and her piano teacher. At all times she was treated with dignity in her death. That comforts me. It makes me think of homebirthing, and what a blessing is must be to die at home. What a gentle way to go, just as it is a gentle way to arrive. I also found myself wondering who cares for her on the other side. As I received my DS I took on the responsibility for caring for him and helping him make sense of this world. I wonder who plays that role for my mother as she enters into a new experience.

The second thing that I am grateful for is just what a profound experience of love my mother experienced in her life. My father loved her so completely and so wholeheartedly. It makes it easier for me to think of her life when I know how deeply she was loved. It also eases my pain to know that she had time with her grandson. She wanted so badly to be a grandmother, and she did have the experience. At the same time I am heartbroken for my father, for his loss. What an experience to loose your dearly beloved life partner.

I think my deepest regret is that me and my mother never learnt to communicate in a healthy open way. My father shared with me that my mother felt this lack in her life too, and was opening to the idea of working on our communication and touching her sensitive spots in an effort to heal our relationship. That is beyond huge for my mother, and gladdened me. It eases the pain of the imperfections in our relationship.

The hardest thing for me is the loss of my family. I still have my brother and my father – but my family unit is now fragmented. My mother glued us together. We are still a family unit, but our loss is very real. I can only guess that with time it will heal and we will rebuild a new and different family dynamic.

My mother never knew what it was to loose a mother. My maternal grandmother is still alive at 91. My mother died at 62.


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Joshua Wlliams

Passed away last week.

Joshua Tree for those who want to find out more about this person. I only ever knew him as the playmate of the son of a friend of mine.

My heart goes out to his parents. I cannot imagine loosing my precious son in such an untimely manner.

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