A near death experience: perspective of the bereaved

My mother has transitioned four days before Christmas of 2018. It was sudden yet anticipated for, at least by me, because the last few months and weeks, I just knew something inevitable was looming. I have had this knowing that mom was going, but to a certain extent, I was not acknowledging it. Possibly I was in denial that mom, the invincible spirited mom would have to go.

I was just berating her in my mind, when a call came from my niece, that mom was gone. Could it be she heard me on a soul-level? Did her soul heard me when I said that she could just give up if she felt already dead inside? Sadly, maybe.

Be careful with your thoughts

Thoughts are powerful. It is our means of communication when words and/or actions are no longer possible. They are the manifestation of our will, and the precursor to our actions. What you think, you will achieve, sounds so true now that my thoughts could have possibly been perceived subconsciously by my mother. And a month prior, I also started praying for my mother’s protection; and that our God may allow her to rest from worldly trials. And that she may already be forgiven from whatever she had to deal with because of past mistakes. It was these thoughts emanating from the subconscious that has PROBABLY led to her being given the grace to finally rest.

What I learned from this episode in my life:
1). When you think of someone, call them, email them or talk to them – whichever is possible. Let them know that you are around. OR if physical or electronic communication is not possible, send them back your thoughts. Or pray for them.
2). Do not send out negative thoughts to another person. Quite often, we humans can be irresponsible with our thoughts that when for example, a neighbour has annoyed us, we start throwing curses at them, mentally. I believe, these mental curses are no different from verbal curses. Curses carry heavy bearing for both the sender and the receiver (So you see, I do not use the word “KARMA” – it is such a big word and many people are using it loosely, and irresponsibly). Unless you are prepared for the consequence of your action (which most likely you are not), do not do it.
3). Soul level messages are positive thoughts that are coupled with strong urge. You can never go wrong when you choose to heed these messages.
4). Impure thoughts can be filtered manually or through prayers (by asking your angels or God to purify your thoughts). Manually, you can write down your thoughts on a paper or a soul journal (as I call it); or if you are an impulsive SMS sender, you may create your message but DO not send it. Let the message percolate for some time. Reread your message and edit. You’ll be surprised how the message will sound differently and read more concisely after the “filtration” process.

Love can heal and prolong life
Mom was admitted to the hospital twice, a month apart. The first time, she stayed in the hospital for more than two weeks. Her condition was so bad that she had to have blood transfusion. When she was discharged, she was not the same in that she was weak, irritable, and at a certain point, restless and “seeing” things and figures. Having been reading on signs that death is nearing, I could say that she had exhibited symptoms of “active” dying then. But somehow, she recuperated a week after when my nephew and his mother (my sister) visited my mother at her apartment. My niece who has then a one-year old baby girl also brought joy to mom. I also would visit her and when mom was able to walk again, would take her to stroll in a shopping mall, and eat out. I know she felt loved during those times.

Remember those fairy tales where princes kiss or offer love to princesses and vice versa, and the receiver of the kiss or love comes back to life or is transformed into a beautiful human being? I believe there is truth in this story line. Like in the case of mom, who had been at the brink of death would hold on to life, as long as she was nurtured with love, or was around with people she cared for.

The lesson I learned from this point on:

Love and show your affection to your loved ones while they are still alive. Do not deprive yourself and your subject of affection the opportunity and fulfillment to say “I love you” or “I care for you” when you can, and when they can still hear it. The next minute, hour or day may just be TOO late.

The impending separation
Mom had started to pull through, when visits from some relatives and myself become more frequent. Likewise, when she decided to give up her rented apartment to live with my older brother and his wife, upon assurance by the former that he would look after her, mom started to regain much of her health. But that was short lived when my sister in law started loathing mom’s presence in their home (Ah, these in-laws!!). The final nail in the coffin, no pun intended, was delivered when my sister in law and my brother literally sent my mother out of their house with some alibi. It was a painful, confusing experience for my mother that in barely two weeks after that, her health started declining, rapidly. In less than a month, mother was already in the active dying stage.

However, this time around (which I would call, my mother’s second bout with death), I have become detached from my mother. I recognised her physical symptoms of dying but remained unmoved. Two days before she passed away, I planned to visit her and take her strolling to the mall. I also intended to take her to live with me in the city. But oddly, in the morning of my visit, I suffered from dysmenorrhea, and began feeling dizzy that I decided to put off my visit. My niece who was staying with mom even SMS’d me to tell how mom was acting miserable and misbehaving. She did not understand that mom was already actively dying at that point.

I called her up to ask about mom and even wanted to talk to mom to “scold” her. But my niece told me there was no way mom could even hear me.

Almost simultaneously during the day, thought conversations were taking place. Mom’s words would echo, “please come”. A few nights prior, I would call her on the phone but she was not picking up. Something in me was telling to visit her. The voice was too soft, not even forcible. All those words I failed to heed.

The last time I saw mom physically alive was barely two weeks before her demise. I went with her to the eye doctor for her cataract surgery schedule. I had always been “touchy” with mom. I would always feel how she would be feeling. But oddly that day, although I held her, my arm on her shoulder, all the way to the clinic, I felt some distance. I also felt numb. But I was not questioning this at the time. It was so surreal that I was observing her every move yet not feeling anything. When I saw her back to the apartment, I just looked at her in the eye and I went away immediately. I remember mom and I looking at each other thrice during that day. No words or thoughts exchanged between us. Just stares.

That night, it suddenly dawned on me the absence of any feeling for mom during the visit. It was like I was detached from her. As I am writing this, I am recalling it as if it was already an old memory.

Up to now, I am still quizzing myself why I felt the way I did on that day. I could have stayed longer but did not. I could have talked with her longer, but did not. I could have taken her with me but did not. It was as if I had to get away from that way and from mom, as fast and as farther as I could. Love is a mystery.

Pain in the past tense
During my mother’s active dying phase, I , who was miles away from her and quite unknowingly, started conversing with mom in my thoughts, as if I was in automode. The conversations were sometimes sad, happy, angry or regretful. Some of the topics were also about past resentments. At the same time, I had this knowing that those moments were for our healing. There had been deep-seated issues from the past that I decided to bury, masking this as “forgiveness”. But I had not forgiven. In fact, all the anger, hurts, internal turmoil brought about by past issues had been unearthed beyond my control. It was like my chest load of baggage were forcibly open, exposed, making me vulnerable to the emotions I did not know existed. It had to happen. Healing is not a simple process.

The lesson I learned from this experience is that:
Emotional pain is triggered by memories from the past. To buffer one’s self from episodic attacks of emotional pain is to stay in the present. The now. Even without closure (which should also be a component of the past issue), one has to stay his or her focus in the present time, which is the reality.

But a part of me is thankful to be given the grace to realise situations that many people would avoid to recognise, learn from and go through. (Emotional) pain is a threshold to the unknown. How do we make sense of the unknown? We would not know where pain will lead us to if we acknowledge it. I think, the danger of acknowledging pain is that it can keep one from forgiving and forgetting. Pain thus can keep one in the loop of anger, regrets and more pain. While time may not effectively heal the wounds and take away the pain, it is a matter of being aware that pain is a normal human experience albeit minuscule from the plethora of experiences we humans we need to go through in this life. I do not wish to philosophise or glorify pain. Pain is never beautiful. However, pain is a symptom of making changes or slowing down to reflect and go inward to heal. Conquering pain even if it means coexisting with it if it does not go away is taking away power from pain to take control of one’s life. So you see, the brave ones are not without angst, pains, and unforgivable issues. They just know how to deal with them, even on a daily basis; and by being in the now.

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