By Jacqueline Wyman
Every day for a little over a month after her death I would sit on her bed around 3:30 PM and look out the window waiting to see her car pull into the driveway. In the early days tears would roll down my face while I waited but in later weeks I sat there numb. Eventually I stopped waiting there because I told my nine year old self
“Mom is gone. Mom is never coming back.”
I never told anyone about this ritual of mine and the subsequent feelings of abandonment and loneliness that took root in my core. For 15 years, I saw death as a "stripping" because I saw it as uncomfortable and not concerned about my humanity or well being. I became hyper focused on "protecting" myself and found great importance in structure. My logic was “if death is beyond my control then I need to control everything else so I can mitigate feeling vulnerability and loss ever again.”
I chose to play God rather than have faith that better days could be ahead.
My aversion to death and the identity I created around the aversion (i.e. telling myself I am alone, will remain alone and need to protect myself) ruled my life until a mentor’s personal story walked me through the door to my own awareness. She shared about the high expectations she placed on others and the outrage she felt when they failed to reach her expectations. As she neared the end of her story she explained how in order for her to stop her toxic habit she had to figure out why she was expecting so much from everyone. I asked myself why I expected so much from everyone and as I peeled back the layers I found that it stemmed from my need for control, a need that was my response to my mother’s death.
I feared death and the change it brought so much that I was willing to do anything to ensure I was never in a place of vulnerability ever again.
I failed to see the beauty in death and witness the life that comes after death as Luke 7: 11-17 exemplified. A woman mourned the death of her son. Not only did the woman mourn the death of her son but she was also a widow. The woman had to deal with death and feel that deep vulnerability at least twice in her life. Naturally, she would be weeping as the verse stated, who wouldn’t be? But then Jesus came and said to her
“do not weep”
and life enters back into her son’s body as Jesus touched him. The message I take from this passage is that if we have faith, then death will be followed by life. Additionally, for that very reason, death does not have to be feared.
The widow wept when she was attached to the notion that death was an end.
When she was made aware that there was not an end, she glorified God. Naturally, the reality that my mom is dead is something I will constantly acknowledge when I feel the pain of not having her to talk to especially when embarking on new life chapters. But the reality that also exists is the life-giving moments and relationships that I am now open to after restoring my faith and allowing myself to be vulnerable again. I am thankful for the new life I have been afforded since I let the notion of death as an end, die.
No longer do I fear deaths of any kind
because I have a faith that tells me I am never alone and that life exists after vulnerability and death. Of course, it is a process to re-train myself to remain open to vulnerability and to not fear death but it is well worth the commitment.
Where in your life can you find peace with something dying in order for you to become more fully alive?
O LORD, be my helper.
You changed my mourning into dancing;
O LORD, my God, forever will I give you thanks.
R. I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Among many things Jacqueline is a Yoga instructor based out of Cleveland, Ohio.