My mother died very recently and I’m having a remarkably different experience than I’ve had before, and I want to share part of it with you. I’m not going to focus on how I got here, partly because I’m not completely sure.

A lot of the spiritual growth work I do both personally and professionally is aspirational. We are trying to get somewhere new: be more of our true self, open our hearts, become more conscious, make a deeper connection to ourselves and the Universe. We focus a lot on how to accomplish that, what are the steps, the practices, the stages.

Sometimes one of the biggest obstacles is not the how, but the what.

I deal with concepts like enlightenment, forgiveness, love. But of course I have to admit I don’t know experientially what it would be like to reach enlightenment, to be completely forgiving, or love unconditionally. And it’s hard to pursue something when you are not even sure what it’s really going to be like.

With the big, mysterious spiritual goals it makes a huge difference if you can give yourself a taste of what it is you’re trying to move toward.

People who return from a near death experience and report having experienced divine energy often can live differently from that point forward, because they “know” something in a way they couldn’t have before.

So, what has been different for me? I don’t have a lot of unresolved business, and I don’t have the belief that her death was tragic or that a bad thing happened. I feel the powerful energetic effect of her absence, and I feel waves of emotion. But since I don’t have the thought that this isn’t acceptable (the way I felt when my father died so long ago), there isn’t pain, I don’t feel bad for myself, and there’s no sense of fear about what is happening or going to happen.

Sadness arises, but there’s no suffering. I think I would still call it grieving, but it makes me wonder if there’s a more accurate word for this.

In addition, since I don’t have the usual resistance to the experience, the natural opening of the heart space that comes with this kind of transition has made everybody’s support nothing but beautiful. I have been able to appreciate and enjoy their love and compassion in a full and unfettered way.

What’s truly amazing is that I can still visit the usual experience very easily. Jack, my mother’s partner of over 20 years, expected to have another decade with her. When I think of how his life and his future have been dramatically altered, I feel bad for him. I feel the heaviness, the sorrow. I feel my judgment that this shouldn’t have happened to him – he didn’t deserve this. When I switch my focus back to myself, it lifts. Labels and expectations are unbelievably powerful.

If I didn’t know better I would question whether I really loved my mother. Shouldn’t I be devastated? Luckily, I do know better.

I don’t feel like I lost something. I feel like something has profoundly changed. And without the struggle, I feel gratitude for her life and the freedom to remember her as her best self.

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