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Happy Mother’s Day!

Happy Mother’s Day!

A psychiatrist’s take on grief and mother’s day…

This year, for the first time, I am celebrating mother’s day without my mom. I know there are many like me. I am mourning and grieving my mom while also receiving immense love and attention from my husband and children. This is the cycle of life, I suppose…I wanted to take a few moments to pen down my thoughts today…in the hopes that others in similar situations can find closure.

The mothering relationship is a complex one. Much like the cliches, I too ended up blaming my mom (and dad) for many things. Now, I know that she did her best, despite her flaws. She loved us all in the way that only she can.

Sadly, while she alive, I tried and tried but failed to get to a place of forgiveness, which left me feeling resentful and bitter. This in turn left us both dissatisfied in our relationship with each other. I was operating under the assumption that one day soon, she will understand where I am coming from, apologize for the pain she caused me and then, I can forgive her and all will be well! Sadly, she passed away untimely – due to medical malpractice and negligence (this is a whole another post altogether). I was there with her during her last days and the suddenness of her departure is still shocking to fully understand and accept. All of a sudden, I was left with big feelings and no closure. All of a sudden, the way of forgiveness showed itself to me (why not before??? – maybe I was not receptive to it). But along with it, came deep regret and sorrow and real grief for all that could have been mine and hers to savor.

The guilt itself was unbearable – but this time the guilt was micro-scanning all the things I said/did (not say/not do) in our relationship and found me deeply, unbearably lacking! How I wish I had come to this space sooner, while she was alive so that I could have cherished her for all the wonderful things she is and accept her humanity and her flaws. Isn’t this what I hope my children are able to do for me one day? (a stubborn, arrogant, egoistic piece of me reminds me that I did the “work”, I changed myself and have hopefully ended the cycle of trauma for my children. See, even now, my ego wants me to clarify this about me to you, my dear reader! I am observing this and letting it be.).

So, am I saying to you all that you should forgive and make peace with your parents? Not really. That is your journey and only you will know if and when the time is right for that to happen.

With her passing, I had no choice but to go inward, more deeper than I have done before. Meditating regularly, even more self awareness, honoring my emotions, facing them – all of them – sadness, guilt, remorse, just plain missing her, fondly remembering her silliness, her simplicity, all of it. Facing them, feeling them and freeing them. And more meditation :). Yes! The only way out is in :).

My spiritual beliefs aided me in this process as well. With all this, I have had some mystical experiences which allowed me to commune with her, feel her, receive her messages. Now, some people may say this is wishful thinking at best or hallucinations and delusions at worst :). However, what I have experienced is a transmuting of my emotions, a letting go, an understanding and I have come to state of peace and ease. I know (no, I don’t have any proof) she is in a better place, she is not in pain, she has forgiven me or rather, there was nothing to forgive. During her last rites, the Brahmin priest who officiated over this ceremony, reminded us that her eternal soul lives on while her material body has now returned its elements to the Pancha-Maha-Bhutas (the five great cosmic elements that make up the whole universe – as an Ayurvedic practitioner, I was aware of these theories but being reminded of it in this context brought immense relief) and she is now in all the elements around us.

I have come to understand and “know” many things recently with this experience. That life is meant to be easy, like a lazy river; but we make it hard by clinging onto past events and their emotions. The only path to joy is to be in the present moment and practice love and gratitude in the moment. When we are in such a state of love and gratitude, resentment/anger do not exist and forgiveness becomes second nature.

This has been my journey so far in overcoming the complex emotions of grief. My hope is that some of you may find my journey helpful. But please know that there is no one right way to go about this. All that is needed to do is this – become aware of your feelings, your emotions, your thoughts; practice self compassion, self-love and gratitude; and when big feelings come – face, feel and then free them.

In closing, Happy Mother’s Day to you all! May the Divine Mother love, nurture and nourish us all!

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