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Life After Death 
Started by Cath1
24 Jan 2012, 1:31 PM

Hi everyone!

I was thinking about the moments right after my Mom died. Some of those memories are vivid, but some moments are lost in a thick fog that I cannot recall.

I remember my Mom's funeral, seeing her silvery blue casket, the priest spreading the smoky incense over her coffin as he said prayers, and whatever prayers he was reciting they must have been in Latin because I could only comprehend that my mother was in that casket and I would not see her again. 

I recall standing between my brothers as more prayers were said, hymns were sung, communion given, but oddly I can remember seeing and being conscious of only one cousin in the church, though I'm told it was packed, as we turned to follow my mother's casket out of the church.

My two brothers I recall were among the pall bearers and I recall thinking how touched my mother would be by the sight of her sons lifting her up and carrying her up high upon their sorrowful shoulders. I recall with clarity the sound of Silent Night coming through my voice as I repeated the Christmas hymn I had sang for my Mom as she lay dying. I recall seeing the eyes of my own immediate family and feeling their loving presence surrounding me with strength. But all the others in the church, I did not see, though I felt their love for my Mom and for us, her children and grandchildren. Love is a feeling and you don't need to see the people who feel it with you and for you.

When my Mom's casket was about to be placed inside the hearse to be taken to the gravesite, I suddenly felt the familiar presence of someone standing behind me as I watched my Mom's casket disappear. When I turned around I saw that it was my Mom's psychiatrist, a man who had cared for her compassionately and wisely for more than twenty years. He was weeping, as was I. I began to thank him for all he did for my Mom and for me and our family over the years. He was inconsolable. I was consoled by his presence, his tears, his vulnerability, and I felt so honoured that he had taken the time to come to pay his respects to my mother and to bid her a final farewell. She would have been beaming and brimming with gratitude, as was I.

I had not slept much at all during the week my mother was dying, Since I had not thought that my mother was going to die, I was in no way prepared for all that had to be done immediately afterward. My children were beyond helpful, they held me up by taking care of so many of the practical details for my Mom's funeral, her visitation, and the gathering we had at my Mom's favourite local restaurant after the service.

I had not gone to bed at all the night before the viewing at the funeral home because I had wanted - needed - to make a slide show for my Mom. When she was living in the nursing home I had planned to make her a special tribute for her 84th birthday in September but there was so much stress during that awful time of our lives that I never had the time I needed to focus and to fulfill my birthday wish for her. I take photographs of my family as a hobby. I make slide shows for every occasion large and snall, I hang my family's black and white photos throughout my home because I adore them. The nursing home had restricted me from taking photos of Mom at the Home, as they did not want me documenting things that went on there. I still feel angry by the way my Mom and I were treated by the staff at that Home, and how cruel they were to have interfered with the experience of our relationship in my Mom's final few months.

The slide show I stayed up all night making was finally the moving tribute I had longed to create for my Mom. It was a comfort for me at the funeral home because when I saw my Mom lying lifeless in the casket she did not really look like herself as I remember her. It was therefore a joy to see photos of her on the screen accompanied by music which she loved, and to listen to her last video messages of love for my brothers which I had captured on film before she went to the nursing home. I only regret that she and I did not have the opportunity to watch it together as I had wished.

Thinking about all of these things this morning, I again feel sad. Time is healing me, as do most of my memories, but some of the memories are painful, and some of the pain was so unnecessarily inflicted upon us. I realize that just as my grief ebbs, it flows and sometimes its waves crash over me knocking me to my knees. Once on my knees, I pray for healing and for life after death.


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Reply by CarolynMarie
10 Mar 2012, 5:19 PM

What a beautiful and moving post.  Thank you for sharing this.  It helps me think about how I will deal with grief and even in its pain, it is comforting.  You are a beautiful writer  Cath1.  Take care!
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Reply by Cath1
23 Mar 2012, 1:22 AM

A drum beats in the distance, rhythmic and familiar, soothing broken skin, agonies felt deepening yet wounds within begin to heal, unreal how brokenness becomes one within and leaves without notice, but returns with mysteries mine to learn
I am learning lessons to live by

Death is final, finally letting go, or so I say, it’s hard to feel this way, but harder yet not to

The place I am is serene, turmoil spoils a perfect scene
Llet the day begin anew, see the truth, I
see pain falling from the sky, filling the river with tears of mine, rain falls until I’m dry and warm, until the storms pass, until the sun and moon rise, heart beats like a drum under a shadowy sky, but the stars speak and the drum beats and I feel happy and almost free; love is a sound beating loud through me

My heart is alive, memories live, death cannot steal the love we give and take

Make my life a gift, lift me from the sky, fly me to the moon; touch the heart of my mother

She touches mine, I hear her say: “Hush now child, believe, and hear the drum beating for you. It will never leave you, nor will I”, and again I cry, yet laughter is now the reason why

What a relief to hear the drum; look at how far we’ve come

The journey is long, the road is hard; cross my heart and hope to find

The place of comfort left behind, in the distance peace of mind always near

She is the sweetest sound I hear; La la la la la la I sing along, I will never forget the song

It makes me move in time, I am moving through eternity, forever

Clear blue water and grey blue skies, blue is the colour of my life and times

I am blue, she is silver and gold, old and young, ageless, an angel, she is the mother I love

Sleeping in silence, speaking in tongues only I understand, hands on my soul

Whole with and whole without, doubt is now a friend, endings start me over again

Resistance is fading with my will; shrill is the sound of sorrow

Lonesome is the stillness, moving memories through me, I tremble in time
No rhyme or reason, no season to spare me, no sun or moon to shine upon us

Trust is healing me, faith is growing; I am sowing my garden in the universe

I am blossoming and becoming one with truth; unproven and untamed

No wise words to claim, no trees to shade my sadness, no sand to shift my mood

Sometimes paralyzed by nature, glorious emotion, lost to her in all her power and glory
Hers is the epic story of a life well lived in vivid colours of complexity and love

Skies above open to her and rain on me, as angel hovers in the clouds, tears wait,

As I anticipate beauty in tune with a drum, we are one, beyond anything I know or will

Yet barren is my heart when full of longing still

Shadowed by the dark soul of emptiness, glowing stars shine brilliant in her place

I am becoming acquainted with a state of grace; it is in the heart of the mother I love

She is beneath me and high above me, in everything I am, and all I’m dreaming of

Still the air embraces the echoes of her reverberating rhythms, the sounds I love and miss

Bliss it is when I close my eyes, I listen and remember September girl and Christmas songs

Kept in the heart where I belong, yet the drum beats, she never leaves me

I finally believe I will be free, breathing never felt so good, would that I hear again her sweet sound found in the drum beating in time and In the near distance, the sound sublime, healing me in my own time, my heart still beating and in tune with hers

Ever dear, ever sweet, the beat, the heart, start to end, the magic must begin again

Mystical mother of mine, I am waiting, I am moving on, with you, we are at peace
I believe 

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Reply by CarolynMarie
25 Mar 2012, 1:58 PM

Oh, I so enjoyed reading this!  What a beautiful piece!  Thank you for sharing!
Wishing you love and peace of heart!
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Reply by claudia c
28 Mar 2012, 1:15 AM

After my Mom died I so longed to see her again in some way.  I had dreamed of my Dad right after his death and it was such a comfort to me.  But weeks had passed!  But then last night I dreamed of Mom.

I’m with a group of friends, happy, laughing, and talking.  I look up and there is Mom waiting down the road.  She waves.  I wave back excitedly and shout, “There’s my Mom.”  I run as fast as I can into her arms.  We hug each other.  I don’t want to let her go. My friends catch up and I introduce them.  “This is my Mom.”  It’s a bit puzzling, but I can’t seem to remember any of my friends’ names.  We stand there for a while, happy, laughing, and talking.  Mom has auburn hair the colour it was when she met Dad.  I know because I once found a large curl she had cut off and put in a box as a keepsake.  She’s conversing animatedly.  But I can’t hear what she is saying.

I woke up so excited.  I saw Mom.  I have been longing for this.  I did have a brief dark dream the night after she died.  She was in her wheelchair and we were crying and it was full of pain.  I did not want to put that in my journal.  I did not want to write about my deep sorrow.

This morning early I remembered my dream experience and all my doubts about keeping up my journal.  I thought, perhaps it is only through writing about Mom that I can keep her memory alive, keep her presence with me.  I made my decision.  I knew then that I had to keep on writing to keep her near me. 

I hope you also experience that sense of contact with your Mom in some way, in your own way! 


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Reply by Cath1
30 Mar 2012, 2:31 AM

Thank you Claudia:

Having first read your post last night, I referred to it and your descriptive account of your dream of your Mom in another post started by Carolyn Marie. It is utterly touching and also encouraging for the future of my dreams. I miss my Mom and wish she would appear to me in a dream.

I saw your message to me in the other post, the post about your Mom's history - mirrors that of my Mom and mine in so many ways and it is so poignantly written. I'm still feeling too overwhelmed and spent tonight to respond in any way that could do justice to the experiences you have shared with me and with us all, but I will write again soon, most likely tomorrow or over the weekend.

I suspect that you are very right when you intuit that we have had many similar experiences in life with our Moms. So far you have already managed to reflect to me many of my own feelings.

I hope your Mom continues to grace your dreams, Claudia! Good night dear friend!:)   


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Reply by Cath1
16 Apr 2012, 12:25 AM

Here is an excerpt of a tribute I began writing for my late mother, Martha, a month after she died. It is a work in progress . . .

My Mom was often worried about by others because she had to contend with the complexity of a mental illness and this sometimes caused them to wonder if she could handle such a sensitive and challenging involvement such as when her sister had become terminally ill, but what many people did not know then is that my Mom was exceedingly strong in times of trouble. My Mom had a great need to feel needed and to be trusted that she was capable of making a difference to others. She would often sacrifice her own comfort to help someone else find succour.

The irony of my mother’s experience with mental illness is that it for every injustice it imposed upon her psyche, it imprinted her spirit with boundless resilience, profound compassion, genuine empathy, and inalienable faith. Therefore, better equipped than many, my mother was able to reach out to others in need as she called upon her own trials and triumphs to help alleviate their suffering. By inhabiting the painfully lonely isolation of illness my mother was rewarded with credibility for not only having lived with it, and struggled through it, she survived it with dignity and grace.

Although my Mom was never cured of mental illness, by learning over time to accept it she indeed conquered it, and she was able to live a richly worthy and meaningful life despite it all. The stigma and shame so unfairly attached to mental illness and ignorantly assigned to its victims sometimes plagued her, the smart sting of misunderstanding wounded her self-worth and it felt especially sharp and spiteful in her younger years, but eventually these negative attitudes eroded in the face of her courage and were ultimately replaced with a positive sense of self-esteem and pride for having endured for so long, with so little complaint, such a heavy and unkind burden.

I’m not sure if my Mom ever realized the impact her illness had on others, nor do I know for certain if she would say she was grateful for having had to carry its weight. I wonder if she ever realized, as I most certainly do, especially now that she’s gone, that for all she and we suffered, the way my mother transcended the chains of captivity fills me with endless gratitude and pride in her ability to overcome with her indomitable spirit unbroken. Sometimes I remember feeling held hostage by my Mom’s illness; sometimes I felt so protective of her that all I really wanted was to assure her that I would never abandon her; sometimes I felt like all I wanted to do was escape to a safe haven where no illness existed; sometimes I felt lost in ambivalence or exhaustion, but mostly I remember that I was simply a child in my mother’s eyes and she was simply my mother, and together we were simply living the lives we were given, the only lives we knew. We were both determined to know one another intimately and privately and forever and our mutual desire was fulfilled.

We recognized each other in shadows and in stars, in mystery and in magic, in fields and in forgiveness, in storms and in silence, in oceans and in opportunity, in elevations and in essence, in everything imaginable and in nothing important, we were together and miles apart, the eternal contradiction and the constant magnetic tension between mother and daughter. Martha was my mother and it was my privilege to walk with her throughout all of my life so far and for fifty-five years of hers. She gave me my beginning and I was with her to the end. Since neither of us have any time for endings we now embark on a new beginning, hers I envision high in the heavens, and mine I imagine will be lived for now under the luminous sky beneath her. I will live the remainder of my life fully engaged in every aspect of experience, just as she had done so well for eighty four memorable years.

No matter how many things happened to her, no matter how much uncertainty she endured, no matter how difficult her path, my mother chose to stand tall and walk forward with her faith as her loyal guide. My Mom never gave up and she rarely gave in unless she sensed that by doing so it would make someone else’s struggle easier for having done so. Her faith was her constant truth, her endless inspiration, her leader in life and she welcomed her spiritual journey in all its dimensions and allowed it to shape and refine her to the very core of her being.

When God rewarded my Mom’s immovable faith by welcoming her home to sleep in heavenly peace, she left me only for now, for a mere moment in time, for so brief I know now is a lifetime lived. My Mom left her lasting, loving and loveable impression on my heart; her gently exquisite signature on my soul; her hopeful and timeless spirit living on within me; and her endlessly charitable nature in every memory I hold dear. I will always honour and hold precious the essence of my Mother in the affection and safety of my mind, my heart and my soul. Love is eternal, and we are separated only by a faint veil of illusion of time and space, I believe.

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