It has been 39 days and 30 years since my father’s death. I was 23 when he died, just married, and had moved to another state to begin a budding career in television journalism. To say that it was a paradoxical time is an understatement. Aspects of my life were just beginning and a huge aspect of my life just ended, tragically. I am currently lying in bed, in the sunshine state of Florida, for a brief working vacation. My Mom’s beloved dog, Zoe, a beautiful black labrador with the shiniest coat I have ever seen, just died. She was my Mom’s faithful companion for the last 11 ½ years. As I process all that has transpired, hearing my Mother’s tears, feeling her pain of love lost, her grief, and holding space for her, I am suddenly brought back to 30 years ago.
I realize how easy it has been for me to hold my mother’s grief inside my body. Actually, I begin to feel how many moments, days, years I did this. Recognizing that pattern, I feel the magnitude of the years of sadness, emotional pain and grief that has been stored and kept within the cells of my being. Much of my inner work in the past few years has been in releasing holding patterns of pain. It washes over me how I not only held this familiar pain, but I dove deeper into self punishment.
At the top of this self punishment list was sleep. How dare I sleep and relax when my Mom was writhing in emotional pain! I felt I didn’t deserve to be happy, relaxed or at ease. And the few moments I did feel at ease, I would quickly call guilt in and make that pain cut me a little deeper. What if someone broke into her house and harmed her while I was sleeping? The toxic thoughts of fear consumed me for a long time. I am currently lying awake, worrying that this current grief over her pet might tip her emotional balance and consume her. I feel guilty that she will return to an empty house and I am surrounded by people who love me. Well, this sure feels familiar: an old pattern of self punishment, perhaps? Realizing that my mother’s grief and how I hold it is still affecting me in a similar way, I welcome the process of discovering why. And so, this blog ensues.
For as long as I could remember, it was an automatic, unconscious response for me to go into self-denial or self-punishment. If someone I loved was not feeling good, I needed to feel worse to help them. Sleep – rather, lack of sleep, was a common way of self punishment. How could I sleep soundly when someone I loved was in pain? If I felt loving to myself, that would mean I wasn’t feeling enough worry for my mother. I really went down into the dark side of feeling what others felt. With my mother, I just wanted to take away her pain so she wouldn’t have to feel so much. Storing it in my own body was the unconscious and unhealthy response.
My mother always said when I was young, “Everything happens for a reason.” I didn’t understand that statement in my childhood, but in my adult life, that would become the foundation for my career in energy medicine. The fact that my sister and I are both in Florida, at this time, on this particular Sunday, when every Sunday she and I spend the day with our mother, is not lost on me. Knowing that Zoe chose this day for her transition, I honor the fact that I am in Florida. Having distance between my mother’s grief and my physical body forces me to look at my patterns of holding. Perhaps this is an opportunity for me to release this holding pattern of my mother’s grief for good?
As an energy healer, I encourage clients to direct their energy in a healing way. Practicing what I preach, I begin to look at what love means to me. I reflect that in my younger years, love equated to worry. I thought being a good daughter was directly tied to worrying about my mother. In this moment, I know I am a good daughter. I am compassionate, loving, understanding, supportive. I don’t have to be physically right next to my mother to embody and share these qualities. I realize, this space allows her to rise up, to live in courage, and to find the strength to face this day without her beloved Zoe. I consciously send her loving energy to feel her own strength, power, love. And I send healing for her to feel the depth of my love, support, and belief in her ability to be her beautiful self. In this way, I am now moving energy out as opposed to holding it in.
30 years ago, my mother didn’t share her grief like she is now. I am grateful she emotes and releases her tears. She now knows, feels, and shares her feelings with me. While we are physically far apart, emotionally we are so much closer. And now she is free to travel with me. These two realizations help me to free the pain of the past and create new patterns of love and living.
I am grateful for this process. I clear my body and send love to my mother’s grief. I send it to the sun to be transmuted and to the ocean for the saltwater to cleanse, purify, and heal the grief. Perhaps being in Florida helps me to work with nature in this way at this time. I see my mother’s grief and know it has no place within my body. Ever again.
Audrey Casey Herrick – 2023