The Blessing I Received Through Mourning My Mom.
To say that I experienced a lot of death in my life would be putting it mildly. The fact that much of it occurred during my developmental years exponentially increased its power to affect me.
My dad’s passing when I was 23 years old capped off these early losses and I entered a state of numbness. Consequently, this cataclysmic event was never grieved. I just pushed it down and aside, and carried on with life.
In the years that ensued, I operated from a place of deep unconsciousness, almost as if I was living outside of my body as all the unfelt grief loomed large over me like a hazy fog. My fear of feeling pain, or anything, was so strong that even if I’d had the awareness that I should grieve, I did not have the capacity to know how or where to start.
And then years later, during the dissolution of a beautiful relationship, amplified by the festering, unyielding pain of losing my cherished mom a few years prior, I finally cracked open and was able to experience true grief.
What unfolded, soon after this beautiful relief at being able to grieve, was the knowing that I must not let myself get trapped in it. I received the gift of clear awareness that there is a huge contrast between grieving and something else: mourning.
As I steadfastly made my way between those two worlds, this is what I learned:
- Grief Is Stuck Energy, While Mourning Is Active
Please do not misunderstand — it is absolutely vital to experience the emotion of grief so that the whole process of transcending loss can begin. Yet what I’ve realized about grief is that it can keep us tangled up in its energy for a long time.
I was raised in a family that included women wearing metaphorical black for years after their loved ones died, and could spout tears of real grief in an instant, sometimes long after the passing had occurred.
It was as if they had gotten stuck in the feeling of sadness and didn’t know what to do after that — there didn’t appear to be any acceptance or processing of the loss. Some of them never seemed to smile and felt so sad that I quietly vowed never to be like them.
The grieving that I witnessed in my youth is passive. We experience the emotion of grief and then stay in that energy.
Prolonged grieving is clinging to what has been lost.
I didn’t yet have the awareness that there was another choice besides eternal grief and blatant denial of feelings, which was where I had landed.
I was graced to finally learn the distinction between grieving and mourning.
Grieving is experiencing the shock, the pain and the depression, and going inward to suffer the loss.
Moving from grief into mourning is accepting that the loss has occurred, feeling it fully, and actively moving through it, so that it is transformed.
- Mourning Means Releasing All Parts of the Loss
Anything can be mourned, including a relationship dissolving through divorce or breakup, a job loss, the selling of a house, and of course, the passing of a loved one.
Mourning really means the act of letting go. In this action, we are completely feeling and then releasing the emotion of grief. This means bringing our full consciousness to the emotion that arises in the moment as we put attention on the relationship or situation we are mourning.
First we move into the emotion deeply by thoroughly feeling it in our body. We are consciously being with the emotion of grief until the energy runs out, which might not happen all at one time. This requires full presence and self-love.
It may be necessary to release different aspects of the relationship or situation and additional emotions such as rage or anger. There may also be layers of past grief embedded in what we are presently mourning.
In mourning my mom, a big catharsis was moving through the aspect of grief I felt at giving up my roles as daughter and caregiver. So much of who I perceived myself to be had gotten tied up in those identities that when she was no longer here, it was like a loss of self. Once I relinquished those pieces, I was able to move through that facet of grief.
As I let go of so much grief recently after ending a budding relationship, I noticed that the grief that was present wasn’t only about this particular ending, but past partings that weren’t fully mourned.
I also noticed that after freeing myself of the sadness, I needed to move through the emotion of anger, which surfaced due to the perceived necessity of ending the relationship and that ultimately he was not the right person for me.
- We Open a Space for Something New to Emerge When We Let Go of What Was
I have learned deeply that we cannot receive something new without creating room for it.
When I let go of a relationship that was not serving me, I made it possible for the beautiful man mentioned above to come into my life, one who was my match on a level not seen since the relationship with my former husband.
This new relationship allowed me to experience so much gorgeous growth and connection, and the full range of my emotions. I’m a changed person for having been with him.
In mourning my mom, I had the latent realization that releasing my attachment to her freed me to live an unconventional life. In letting go of the relationship, I received the mental and emotional freedom necessary to contemplate and then originate my life in a new and meaningful way.
Ultimately her transition generated an opening for me to truly access my love. When she was alive, she gave me the gift of activating my unconditional love by caring for her, similar to what parents experience after they have a child.
The blessing that I received through mourning her is the realization that I am love just by being me! Releasing her gave me the capability to grow into a woman who can love the whole world, herself included.
Lauren Malloy is a certified coach and spiritual teacher in service to all relationships, especially the one we have with ourselves, and including the relationships we have with those who have transitioned. She’s also a poet, a writer and a PSYCH-K® facilitator for subconscious mindset change and growth. Her purpose is to share her love with the world. You can contact her via her website or email.