How to spiritually compost loss, death, and endings for healthy 2022 growth
As I shared in my last post, My Lucky Star: Final Tributes to my Mother, my 88-year old mother died two days before this year’s Thanksgiving. She was a pioneering spirit who boldly followed her dreams and didn’t take No for an answer. Decades ahead of her time, she, a brown woman from Suriname — a South-American country that most people haven’t heard of — traveled alone with me around the world for 8 months in 1975 when I was just 5 years old. I have no doubt that she will continue to be a mover and shaker on the other side now that she’s crossed over. I’m already getting the sense that she has positioned herself at the frontlines of my dreamteam of spirit and ancestral guides even though it’s only been a month since she’s passed.
My mother was committed to her North Star and busted through ceiling after ceiling when her career peaked as a school principal. According to my dad, she didn’t take orders from anyone, not even from soldiers with machine guns who tried to tell her what to do after the military overthrew the government. Needless to say, losing control over her basic functions and muscles due to a degenerative ataxia was degrading, defeating, and excruciatingly difficult for her. After a slow decline of about 25 years, there was an intense period that started about five years ago when she told me almost daily, “I lived a full and happy life. I’m ready to go home. You guys need to let me go.” Her disease had caused her to be bedridden and she was frustrated that she couldn’t will her death. I explained to her that I would grant her this wish if I could, but it wasn’t up to me or us. Maybe life and mystery had bigger plans for her.
As if her soul agreed that her strong and sharp ego-mind was standing in her way, she developed dementia soon after. Unlike most people with dementia, she was spared the mental anguish that this brain affliction often causes them. We, her direct family, were also spared the heartache and devastation we’d feel if she stared right through us without any sign of recognition. Miraculously, my mother’s dementia primarily robbed her of her acute awareness of her illness. Her longing to die instantly stopped.
She retained many sweet memories of her life in Suriname with her direct family and my dad, her husband of almost 58 years, until her final days. She was once again ahead of her time and us in her readiness to transition but somehow found a creative way to wait for everyone else to catch up with her. As a result, we had a chance to digest the years of hardship we’d just endured, enjoy her loving presence, and work on letting her go. She picked a time when most people were in town visiting and could say their final goodbyes, showing us that she not only knew how to live in alignment but also knew how to die in alignment with the stars and mystery.
Just two days after my mother transitioned, she appeared in my dreams. She was running on the beach toward me and said, “Loraine, I’m really going now, okay?” I immediately replied, “Yes, of course, go, enjoy,” without a single pinch of fear or longing in my heart, consciously not wanting to break her momentum by stopping or looking back. She lifted off into the clouds and my heart swelled with relief, gratitude, and softness that she was finally freed from all of her physical and mental shackles. I was also delighted that my heightened dream awareness verified to me that I had indeed succeeded in letting her go, ego-bit by ego-bit, layer upon layer, over the past few years.
Based on the steady and growing spiritual guidance I’ve received since her death, I’ve come to realize that my mother probably grabbed the nearest folding chair in sight and propped it against the portal that temporarily opens when the veil between life and death thins. I believe that she’s planted herself there and that this portal won’t be closing anytime soon. Knowing my mother, I can’t imagine that she’d pass up the opportunity to do something significant about the invisible ceiling on healing now that she’s there.
This open channel gave me the words and clarity to share her legacy and the incredible gifts and teachings she passed down to me as her only daughter these past 52 years in my well-received eulogy. I recalled being a lost and troubled 17-year old when she sat me down and said, “You are now old enough for me to tell you some important things that I haven’t told anyone.” She shared her biggest disappointments, losses, and upsets around patriarchal and oppressive attitudes and practices that harm women and that had severely affected her life. That’s when I realized how intentional, insightful, and deliberate her bold choices and coping strategies had been and how much she trusted herself, her feelings, and her intuition, even when no one else approved of them.
Many of her beliefs are still progressive and ahead of the times today 35 years later, let alone back then. I also started to grasp just how much her teachings have inspired and shaped the important ego-eco soul aligned work that I do today in helping humans understand how their emotional flooding and burn-out relates to the flooding and wildfires hurting the planet.
We buried my mother’s ashes today in a final resting place rimmed by pine trees and surrounded by a sea of green grass with flowers protruding from the markers on the graves. We decorated hers with the gorgeous arrangement of orchids, roses, chrysanthemums, and lilies that was sitting on her casket during her funeral two weeks ago. They were still in pristine condition and reminded me of the beds of orchids and beautiful plants and flowers we had in our garden when I was a child.
My mother, an avid gardener, knew that the quality of fruit, vegetables, and flowers depended on what was happening at the root level underground. Every part of my little body understood this because my mother had my brother and I regularly haul bags of manure bought from the milk farmer out of the trunk of her car after school. Her nature-centered wisdom and emphasis on Yin elements (Earth and Water) over Yang elements (Air and Fire) complement what Becca Piastrelli writes about in her Nov 2021 MBG article, The Nature-Inspired Philosophy That Helped Me Get Through Postpartum: capitalist Western culture favors the emerging energy and high activity in the Spring air and Summer sun over the retreating, hibernating, and composting mysteries happening in the dark Fall earth and Winter waters.
No one is immune to these influences, but only a few rare brave souls, like Brene Brown, have successfully challenged and transformed our widespread disdain of vulnerability (the breaking down and composting of emotions) into a social movement, starting with her 2010 Ted Talk: The Power of Vulnerability that has been seen by 56 million viewers. There is still a great deal of resistance and defensiveness around our emotional vulnerability, which prevents us from embracing darkness, difficulty, and endings and composting our loss and pain into new fertilizer for growth. Susan David, author of Emotional Agility, says in her 2018 Ted Talk (viewed 9 million times) that she has said to hundreds of people who avoid feeling vulnerable or out of control that “Only dead people never get unwanted or inconvenienced by their feelings.”
My mother knew that living out-loud required confronting the shadow at the root level and getting messy and dirty, and mixing manure so to speak with water and soil. That’s how the sunriped fruit of our labor will end up having the healthiest color, taste best, and grow on robust trees that rejuvenate and overflow with abundance year upon year. Death and endings help us to naturally transition from an ego-centered to a soul-centered mindset, but given the amount of loss this year and the year before, many of us have lost our way (which isn’t hard to do in modern-day culture). The guidance and invitation I’m receiving from my mother is to Re-Tree-T in our parched and heart constricted darkness, add some soil and water to loosen things up and allow mystery to compost and alchemize our pain into gifts of clarity and consciousness so we can live better alignment with our souls and the planet the coming year.