The Journey; Bearing Witness

 As I observe the grieving process and attempt to find presence in the midst of it, I’ve come to the conclusion that grieving is part and parcel of the suffering witnessed. Whether it is a friend or loved one or even strangers. But mainly, I speak from the witness seat of my Mother’s end of life journey.

The process of grieving for humans is relatable —we console each other, yet acknowledge the suffering with attempted solace. 

Today, I am immersing into emotional release with the grief as brought on by memories. They rise up like bubbles from the depths of the ocean, only to draw breath from my existence.  A twinge of sharp pain as a memory arises from the sad moment of realization for my Mother, when she knew she was no longer going to be able to get out of bed and walk.  Then the ensuing fight for life, her brain in charge, not giving up, not letting go.  And so we go with her, tending, caring and feeling.

In my personal case, the grief I now travel through is related to these very emotions as they arise. Many people feel the grief as a loss of the actual person, no longer in a body to visit and talk to.  Yes, that is part of it, the voice at the end of the phone line, the shoulder to cry on, the recipe recited from memory, the inside jokes. But now, I seem to experience here and there,  sensory memories containing clear moments of her suffering. As the flow of grief takes me down its river, I am astonished and at moments felled by the release. Later, I feel tired, maybe relieved to feel the space which has been carved out to welcome  new experiences.

Important it is too, to feel the emotions and release, so we can move forward into new phases of living. If we can find a way to detach from the thoughts, the actions, and observe —-we can find peace in realizing it is the human existence, but it is not who we really are.  In detachment, we bear the realization that each soul’s journey is unique. We see when we detach, the thread of feeling and can understand why we feel what we do. A lifetime of love and events full of vitality, that is how our loved ones stay alive for each of us.  Close the door and shut off feeling. Open the door and release the fear of feeling the deep love —which can be painful. The fear of it may be worse than the actual memory. It may not. But in releasing we free ourselves.

Finally, when we allow ourselves to feel, we can then realize that it is a pure well spring from which evolution occurs.  As our parents leave us we are taught to fear the finality of death through dogma and cultural conditioning. As we all watch our parents pass on to the next life, there is nothing to be afraid of, but the experience of being truly present without their guidance or the specific parts of the relationship we hold dear. How we judge that process and ourselves —-matters. 

Can we share the journey of life and be joyful in the process? Have we learned to set boundaries early on that allowed for an adult relationship instead of a parent child relationship at age 40, 50 or 60? We can if we realize that yes, we are on a journey, nothing is final, it is our perception that fuels any fires of distraction.  Presence in the moment allows for the journey to evolve without controlling it. Yes, we wish our loved ones to die peacefully without prolonged suffering. We console and remain faithful, yet, that is why we exist to finish our schooling here in this life. To bear witness. To love, to feel joyful or sad. All for the purpose of truly living in each tiny moment of existence. Learning that each element does not determine our life direction. They are separate from our soul.  

The soul is part of our consciousness, it whispers our unique gift and passion to us. We can hear it if we are aware of an inner voice. When we can observe the journey, feel the emotions of grief and understand them as a by-product of saying good bye to our loved ones, yet still move forward knowing we are individually alive, then we appreciate this grand journey….on our way home.