A couple of days ago, I received an email from Neale Donald Walsch that ended with the phrase, “sadness cleanses the heart.” It struck a cord with me, as my mother Lucille passed away on June 9th and honestly it has been one of the most heart opening experiences of my life. I realize that if we let ourselves truly feel the richness of our sorrow and let it flow through us, we tap into the deep well of love inside. Sadness is different from being unhappy. Sadness comes from a loss of something we valued. When we don’t give ourselves permission to feel sad over losing something, we diminish our capacity to love.
Kahlil Gibran said, “Ever has it been that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation” and in the moments that mom was transitioning back to spirit, I knew a deep unconditional love for her, my sister and myself.
I had the privilege of being by Mom’s bedside for the last few days of her life. Nothing was left unsaid and I was able to encourage her to leave the body, which had served her so well but was used up, behind. One of the things that I thought I’d never want to do, watch a loved one die, actually turned out to be an incredibly beautiful rich and of course, sad time. But I feel so privileged to have been there by her side. Those two and a half days of being by her side were truly a blessing and life distilled down to its essence, which is love. I said things that I didn’t even know were in my heart and I felt surrounded and supported by the love and prayers of family and friends.
There was a point where the radio was playing by Mom’s bedside and it was as if the Source of all love was programming for us. The first song came on, “I’m everything I am because you loved me,” by Celine Dion. I sang it to her with my voice breaking and tears running down my cheeks. Then came, Rod Stewart, “Have I told you lately that I love you?” followed by the Beatles, “Let It Be” I smiled at Let It Be—I wondered how she felt about the song now. 40 years ago when they sang it in guitar mass at church—she was appalled because she had heard it was about marijuana. But mom, as a good Catholic was devoted to the Blessed Mother. And as I sang, “in my hour of darkness, she is standing right in front of me, shine until tomorrow, let it be.” I knew that mom would like the song today. And I knew the most important thing to do was just to be present–to lend a calm reassuring energy to the room. Every time I walked out, I would kiss her on the forehead and tell her where I was going and tell her if it was time to go, she didn’t have to wait for me. She did wait till both my sister and I were present in the room. And as she peacefully released her last breath, I knew that she was now at peace with my father and so many or her family members that had gone before her.
So here I am back in Los Angeles, adjusting to life, feeling a bit like an alien in a world that used to look familiar but now seems quite different. I’m learning to listen to the voice inside even more. I am giving myself time to feel the myriad of feelings that wash over me moment to moment and not pushing myself to do but be in a time of reflection and healing. The rest of life is going on around me. My book, the competition, my clients and I need to show up and be present without being hard on myself. I know that my best today, may not be the best I’ve ever been able to do.
I remember 23 years ago when my father passed away, I was 26. I didn’t have that much experience in loss. I thought I would break. What surprised me was that instead of breaking from the loss of my father, I found myself so much more compassionate and open to other people’s suffering. It did make me a stronger better human being. My heart was more available to others. And knowing that the sadness of my father’s loss helped me grow, has made me more open to the pain and sadness I feel today in my mother’s passing.
Whenever we are in these transitions it is important to remember to be gentle with our expectations and to look for all the ways love is around us supporting us–to allow the love to flow not to close up and try to delay the pain. The pain of loss touches us all. The challenge is to allow our hearts to grow and become stronger through the sadness and loss.
So what is your experience of loss and sadness? Do you find as Neale said, that sadness cleansed your heart?