Why this title?
My mother died. I want to share the effects of how the body responds to the mind when it is in ‘stress’ mode and in this particular moment, with the results of bereavement.
My mother passed away at 86, on 26th November, 2014, seven hours before I landed in Heathrow airport to be with her.
We had recently spent a month together when I was with her in October and I then went on to speak in Los Angeles and Melbourne and was driving up the East Coast of Australia, doing a mini book tour, when I was told that mum had gone back into hospital for the second time since I’d left. It was another ‘pesky’ chest infection, something she suffered a fair bit with in the past, along with heart problems, kidney problems and oh yes, the multiple myeloma and subsequent adult leukemia to add to the list. But this time the chest infection was deemed to be pneumonia.
With no passport on me, I left my car in Queensland and two flights later, at 9 o’clock at Tuesday night, I was back home in Tasmania, packing a bag. I spoke to mum through a nurse that night, to tell her that I was on my way to be with her and again the following morning. I had been ringing mum every day since since leaving London and twice a day when she went into hospital. But mum couldn’t speak back to me that Tuesday morning. I later found out that it was due to two mini strokes that may have happened.
The next two flights and I was in Dubai for a short stopover, an hour, waiting for refueling.
I turned my phone on.
The message signal sounded once, twice and a third time.
The hospital, my mother’s sister, the home number – these numbers all showed up.
So my mind kicks in and my body responds.
Stomach churns, legs go weak, anger comes, frustration at waiting for the nurse to take me off hold …
Mum had gone, 7pm their time in the UK and I was only 6 hours away.
It’s bizarre how physical the body feels when our minds ‘react’ to information.
I hurt. Physically. Like I’d been punched in the guts and then had a fist push through my stomach and grab my stomach and wrenched it out.
I hurt and I howled. I was angry, desolate, sobbing … I felt actual physical pain. Nothing was touching me in reality to cause this reaction but my mind, in response to the information that I had received, always dreaded, but always knew would come someday.
Why am I sharing this with you?
Well, I guess I want to share how strong and immediate the effects of these chemical responses from the brain can be.
These responses continue. It’s like a roller-coaster. One minute I’m smiling at a flight attendant, thanking her for my glass of mineral water and the next minute I’m in floods of tears at the realization that I will never ‘see’ my mother alive again.
I’m in ‘fight or flight’.
I finally arrive into Heathrow and get ushered out speedily (thank you Qantas) and met by two familiar faces that embraced and supported the soggy mess of me, put me into a car and we drove to my mothers house.
After throwing my bags down in the house, I walked through the cemetery that I’ve walked a million times before, when visiting my mum in hospital over the years, only this time I was going to be visiting her in the morgue.
I walked into the ‘viewing room’ and there was my mother, lain out on a table of sorts, with a beautiful deep purple velvet cover that went completely over her body and down to the floor.
Her eyes were closed as well as her mouth. Her skin was a different tone, almost yellowish. When I reached her I touched her face, her cheek and it was cold. I hugged her, pressed my cheek into her cheek and sobbed a little while, then pulled back to look at her again.
She was not there.
I had held her so many times before, when she was sleeping, when she was sick, when she was unconscious and she had always been ‘in there’.
This was different.
This was a body, a shell, a mantle, the vehicle that we are able to use in order to ‘be’ in this place and experience it.
I looked up at the ceiling and around. “Okay mum! I KNOW you’re not in here! So where are you now?! How can you be in here one minute and then disappear the next!
I probably looked a little mad at this point for any onlooker.
As hard as coming to see my mum in this morgue might have been, it was the best thing I could have done.
My grieving for her loss still affects me, like the ride of a roller coaster, but I know for sure that her energy, her soul, her spirit – whatever term you wish to use, she is now free from the human form and therefore free from her human suffering, which was great in her last few years here.
All that I know doesn’t always prevent my sadness, but allowing the waves of the roller coaster to come and go, means that I will not be in fight or flight continually. This was made obvious as to how my body quickly returned back to ‘normal’, after having the immediate reactions of noticeable mucous production in the head and in the gut (mucous is produced as a result of inflammation/infection), as well as the candida swelling in both sides of my tongue and an increase in the small mass behind my left jaw.
I had been taking a break in the turpentine protocol whilst in Australia and decided to then drop the other protocols as well, just to see if I could turn it all around with my mind, bringing myself back into the present moment with every peak and trough of emotion that washed over me.
This is ‘life’ here. This is ‘death’.
We don’t need to understand it all, we just need to learn how to navigate through it the best we can in our own individual ways, moment by moment, breathing in and breathing out, changing and learning all the way 🙂
May your Christmas holidays and New Year celebrations be all that you wish them to be and may you enjoy steering your ship through the waters of 2015. It could be an amazing ride!