The Death Walk

In last week’s blog, I shared about how I killed my Mum. I shot her with an arrow of truth, from my heart to hers….and it hit its mark.
But it wasn’t her blood that I was feeling – it was my own. How do we watch someone who was once so strong and independent and dignified, become a walking corpse? How do we watch that, and not feel something moving deeply within our own Spirit.
Watching Death begin its slow and grim dance for someone we love is not easy. This is powerful change at its most visceral level.
I’m not saying that a swift death is necessarily easier. Unexpected death is a shock in its own right, and brings its own levels of trauma with it. Our world spins on a top, and in a single instant the very framework of our life is shredded into a new pattern….a pattern without our loved one physically present any more.

But slow death – that’s what I’m exploring now.

How do we hold the space for someone we love, as they bit-by-bit shed the very things that made them them? How do we embrace the unknown journey ahead, knowing with utter certainty that it ends in the death of the body. There is no turning back.
It’s a very interesting experience….one that I find tempting to run away from, for the simple reason that it hurts. And as humans, instead of exploring the things that hurt us with a child-like curiosity, we are more likely to look for our escape routes.
As a child, my father was strongly influenced by how he had been raised. He’d vowed not to become like his father…and yet he had.
My Dad had been born in Indonesia, one of 5 children, and he’d been raised by a Pembantu (a maid servant). His father worked for the Dutch Government, and was Governor of a province in Sumatra. But his father was very strict with the children, and so my father learned that same habit.
I’d been born as this incredibly sensitive, intelligent, intuitive girl with a deep connection to nature. Yet when my brother and I squabbled (which was often), my father would be called in to hand out the discipline. And that discipline came in the form of a rubber hose that we’d be whipped with.
It hurt. I cried. And some days I went to school with welts on my legs from the night before.
When I reflect on those times, there’s one thing I know. I was so sensitive and I loved my father so much, that even a slightly stern word from him was enough for me to pay attention and want to do better. The whippings were like taking someone who’d stolen a breadcrumb off a dirty floor, and giving them a death sentence by decapitation. It was so extreme in its punishment, that my beautiful sensitive heart just didn’t know how to process it.
And so I found my escape. From the events of my childhood, I learned how to leave my body, and live either “out of body” or in my mind….or buried in books. So of course I have a brilliant mind; I know how to bury myself in my exciting projects; and I’m a master at avoiding pain by taking my Soul out of my body and into the ether.
In fact, the greatest challenge I faced in my adulthood was learning how to be anchored in my body….even in the face of an enormous tidal wave of emotions. It wasn’t second nature to me, because I’d spent so many years avoiding my hurt and my pain. It was something I needed to work at, diligently seeking a state of “Presence” with the level of focus that a leopard uses when it’s stalking its prey.
Yet every now and then, life throws us a great opportunity, disguised as a great challenge. That’s what is happening for me right now, with my Mum.
It gives me the opportunity to forgive myself for my initial fight and flight response – that innate running away from my feelings in an attempt to escape all things horrible. But then it invites me to anchor even more deeply into that state of Presence, so that I may hold firmly in me, no matter what is going on around me. I get the chance to find the eye of the storm, and anchor there.

That’s what I’m doing with my Mum.

I’m connecting with my feelings. When sadness washes over me, I cry….or even howl. I let the little girl inside of me explore the limitless depths of her feelings. But then they pass, and I return to holding the space, for me and for my Mum.
I know that my mind is my greatest ally, and my greatest enemy. What will I do with it? I am intentional about my thoughts. Rather than allowing them to run away from me like a rabid dog, I choose my thoughts.
I reflect on the happy memories I hold of my Mum, of the things that most warm my heart about her…her sweet personality, the kindness of Spirit that she’s always had for everyone around her (myself included), the delight she experiences when she feeds the butcherbirds and magpies at her property, and her incredible attention to detail that has frustrated her 3 children as much as it’s been a gift for us.
And I look for ways I can be there for her in this very moment. What does she need? How can I be of service to this Mumma Bear who has spent her whole life in service to others? How can I bring her even more love, warmth, connection and joy, even whilst her physical body sends smoke signals to say that it’s failing, and won’t be here much longer?

And finally, I use my oils.

Ever since I introduced Mum to the Young Living essential oils, she’s loved them. In fact, her monthly orders are as big as my own.
Every month, her orders are filled with:

  • Panaway oil and/or Deep Relief Roll-on (which she rubs on her hips each day)
  • RC oil and/or Breath Again Roll-on (which she rubs on her chest each morning and night)
  • Aromasiez and/or Cypress oil (which she rubs on her legs each day), and
  • Nutmeg oil (which she rubs on her adrenal area each day)
And then of course there’s her NingXia Red juice, her Sulfurzyme, and her Bloom Collagen Complete. These are her Young Living staples, and they bring comfort to her days and nights.
Essential oils are also helping me through this time. What are my best oils for holding the space? There are so many to choose from, there’s no one right answer. But I am using oils like:

  • Release and/or Surrender (to let go and go with the flow, knowing everything is unfolding exactly as it should)
  • Joy and/or Inner Child (to comfort my heart, and the little girl inside)
  • Trauma Life (to allow me to connect with my tears when I’ve shut down emotionally, and to allow me to move through my tears when I’ve started drowning in them).
  • Gratitude and/or Grounding (to anchor me in the present, so that I can hold strongly in my Light, and not lose my way with any “poor me” thinking).
I live a few hours’ drive from Mum, so I can’t be sure that I will be with her at that moment when her Soul finally takes flight and begins its next adventure. But if I am, I will anoint her body with Frankincense and Sacred Sandalwood, to honour her journey forward. I will bless her Soul and wish her farewell in the best way that I know….with a prayer, with my love, with my oils.