The Death of my Mother

Many of us have lost our loved ones, especially parents. Others will have to face this eventuality one day or other. Death is the most certain phase and yet the most unaccepted part of our lives.

My primary school mornings used to be spent crying and feeling abandoned when my mother used to leave me in the care of a nanny to go to work. I used to wave bye-bye through the window and come crashing on the bed crying my heart out for the next two hours. Tugging her saree into my chest I would cry till it was time to get ready for my 1 o’ clock school. This was my daily routine for four years.

In 2012, when I was on my European Yoga Tour I received a call from my sister informing me that mom had slipped into coma and her future was uncertain. I flew back to India immediately, straight into the Intensive Critical Care Unit of the hospital and by the side of my mother’s motionless body. The beeping of machines around her bed took my mind back to those years when I used to cry in fear of her leaving me. There I was, now, facing my biggest challenge, the person who I had loved the most ever, my strongest emotional bond was going to leave me….

After a couple of days my mom passed away, the eventual had happened. In fact, she left her body in the morning when I was by her side. I rushed out of the hospital room and cried for 2 hours in the arms of my sisters just the way I used to in primary school. The only difference, in the past I used to cry out of abandonment, this time I cried out of acceptance. In the past I used to cry feeling my mom had left me, this time I cried tears of gratitude knowing she had finished her work here.

I could say I was born in abandonment because as far back as I remember I was afraid of my mother leaving me. That fear of abandonment has nothing to do with my mother, it was my issue since the time I know I exist and it was me who had to resolve it. Around twelve years ago, in one of my silence periods, it dawned upon me how important it was to evaporate this dark cloud once and for all.

The quest began with a question, why is it that we fear our loved ones leaving us, why is it that we look at it as abandonment. Over the years the answer was revealed. We all fear abandonment because we all have abandoned. We all have abandoned the very immortal love that we ARE and this is why we are afraid of losing the love that we HAVE. Losing some one dear to us reminds us of that abandonment, our abandonment of our Self. The fear of losing some one always lurks in the back of our mind. Every other source of love apart from the Self becomes an obsession. When that source is attained, we feel accepted. When that source is taken away, we feel abandoned. The time in between these two experiences is spent fearing and worrying about the obvious. Death is the most certain phase and yet the most unaccepted part of our lives.

Somewhere over life times we have managed to blindfold ourselves and are now complaining of darkness. Somewhere we all are playing hide and seek with our deathless essence. Somewhere we are all busy entertaining guests of the finite while our infinite mother awaits our arrival. Once in a while some of us do experience a glimpse of immortality and infinity but immediately the voices of mind ground us in flesh. The feeling dies before it blooms into an experience. We have forgotten that the experience of our infinity cannot come through pursuing the finite. We keep forgetting that the acceptance of our immortality cannot come through fearing the mortal.

Many of us have lost our loved ones, especially parents. Others will have to face this eventuality one day or other. It is hard, very hard, to lose someone you love. It is disastrous to feel the separation. But I feel this is a lesson, the toughest lesson. All other spiritual lessons are based in this lesson, the lesson of abandonment, the lesson of separation. And just like any other spiritual practice the acceptance of death, the passing of a parent and facing the eventual separation also needs to be worked upon.

Over twelve years I prepared myself just to accept the fact that one day my parents (especially my mom) will not be with me. It is something that you don’t want to happen but know that it will. It is one of the trickiest and most ruthless of acceptances one has to recognize. I am not claiming that my mother’s passing did not affect me, in fact it was not at all an easy journey for me afterwards. But I just want to share a few things here that did reduce the blow of this incident on my life.

What helped me most was to recognize that my mom was an independent Being even before she was my mom. Endless hours spent looking at her comatose body made me realize that even though this Being was in a relationship with me as a mother in this life it had its own flowering to continue. That Being was now ready to go on its next adventure and I had to let it go. Her death would be an end of “my” relationship with “my” mother but beyond the “my” that Being had to move towards a new journey to realize itself through newer forms and relationships. This is where we need to realize death not as a full stop (period) but as a comma, not as an end but as a pregnant pause.

When one accepts the eventual passing of a loved one as a Being and not as a relation it becomes much easier to generate compassion. Our conflict and resentment with others are only in context of relationship, from the context of Being there are no conflicts, there is only compassion. In the pond of compassion the lotus of forgiveness can bloom. And in the blossom of this lotus lies the peace of past. When the past is made peace with, there is no regret, guilt and resentment. When the past is wiped clean the mind does not move into the future to compensate. When memories of past are let go off, the desires of future too are tamed. The pendulum of mind doesn’t oscillate between resentment of past and desires of the future anymore. Gradually, in the context of that relationship one starts staying in the present and in this present is present just one thing and that is love. Relationships end, Love remains and Love is the common denominator of all that is.

If you have aged parents around perhaps it’s time to prepare yourself. Gather all the courage that you have and work towards resolving any conflict that you may have had with them. Work with compassion, look at them more and more as Beings in form of your parents and not just as “your” parents. Allow genuine forgiveness to arise in the heart, seek forgiveness and keep forgiving. It takes time, patience and sheer determination to hold your ground when it comes to forgiveness. Enjoy every bit of opportunity that you get to express your love. Bit by bit close the chapters based on regrets and resentment till the book of that relationship becomes a book of love. This is the time to count your blessings, this is the time to cherish the love, this is the time to feel thankful and appreciate the joy of small things. From the context of Love we are never really separate, from the context of consciousness we are never really abandoned, from the context of Being we never really die. As bodies we die, as Beings we are immortal. With this fact in mind, when the time comes, allow your loved ones to pass on, allow them to move on to the next stage of their journey as spiritual Beings. Let the abandonment turn into acceptance, let the aloneness transform into all-one-ness. Just like you they too are evolving, just like you they too will flower.

..with my mom in Varanasi, her last pilgrimage.
..with my mom in Varanasi, her last pilgrimage.