Saying Goodbye to Your Mother
The importance of the grieving process can never be overestimated. Not to grieve, prolongs the agony and left unresolved, spills over into other areas of your life. Allowing yourself to feel the full range of emotions in relation to your mother will aid you in your grieving process. Whether it is grieving the happy times shared now she has gone, or your anger, sadness, regret, guilt or shame, grief work can begin, even when your mother is still alive. Being honest with yourself and giving yourself permission to release what needs to come out, prepares you for your mother’s physical decline and death.
Although your mother may have been doing the best she could in raising you, unless you grieve the loss of the mother you hoped for, unhealed emotions will remain in your current relationship with your mother, or linger even after she has gone from this world. One of my favourite quotes is by Sir Walter Scott ‘oh what a tangled web we weave’. It seems to sum up the complicated and tangled bonds we form with our mothers.
In retrospect and seeing the bigger picture of what your mother experienced in her lifetime, what do you notice about your feelings towards her?
· How have you judged your mother in terms of her parenting?
· What unfair demands might you have made on her?
· What criticisms do you have of your mother’s actions, behaviours and parenting style?
· How do you suffer when you hold on to negative emotions towards your mother?
· Knowing what you now know about your mother, what were your previous limiting beliefs about your relationship with her?
· What new beliefs will be more beneficial to you when you are able to accept she didn’t live up to your expectations?
· What would you say to your mother right now, if you gave yourself the freedom and permission to say anything?
· What is the most positive impact your mother has had on you?
· What golden moments have you shared?
· What is your best memory?
· What are you grateful to your mother for?
· How can you use your experience with your mother to change your life or other people’s lives for the better?
· If your mother is no longer part of your life, what would you say to her right now?
· What were the missing events you needed in childhood?
· If you make it your responsibility to heal your past and give yourself love, time, nurturance and care, what would change?
· How can you best meet your needs now as an adult?
· How will making this change benefit you?
There are various ways to say goodbye to our mother’s physical body when she dies and also to incorporate saying goodbye to the mother we hoped for.
I will share with you some strategies to release the past, acknowledge your mother and the relationship you had with her and also some techniques to help you heal. More tools and resources can be found in Chapters Five and Six in my second book on relationships Mothers and Daughters: The guide to understanding and transforming the relationship with your mother.
Writing a Letter to Your Mother
More than kisses, letters mingle souls - John Donne
Whether your mother is no longer with you through bereavement, because you are estranged or because circumstances keep you apart, you might wish to write her a letter. Please consider if you actually want to send this letter or whether you simply write it as a means of personal closure.
If you are bereaved, you will obviously not be able to send the letter, however, writing it will offer you a sense of release.
1. Begin your letter with a friendly form of address (Dear Mum/Mother...)
2. Keep the tone of your letter positive and good-natured
3. Refer to any positive memories you have of her (if there have been few then thank your mother for giving you the gift of life)
4. Voice your enjoyment of any positive experiences shared
5. Express your sense of loss communicating honestly how you feel
6. If your letter is in response to a difficult moment in the relationship, avoid making negative comments, keeping the tone light and as positive as possible
7. Offer your mother your good wishes for the future (even if you are bereaved, sending your mother your positive intentions and good wishes aids to sooth you). If you are estranged and do not wish to open communication channels, this is also a way of saying ‘goodbye’ perhaps more positively than if you had done it face to face. There are lots of different versions of letters which you can write (sent or not) for the purpose of healing. Practice the craft of writing and journaling to express your thoughts and feelings. However, if you intend to send the letter, then leave it alone for a week and review it afresh before you send it.
Poetry as a Form of Expression
It is beautiful to express love and even more beautiful to feel it – Dejan Stojanović
Writing poetry is another way to express how you feel. Whether it is writing poetry you send to your mother or writing as a means of releasing pent-up emotions, poetry can take many shapes and forms. Whatever you write, it isn’t about rhyming or perfect prose, it’s about allowing yourself to be who you really are and expressing your truth in whatever way you want to.
If you write something you think you would like to share with your mother, follow the letter writing guidelines above in order to keep your words positive. By all means have a separate rant on paper but consider if it will solve anything by sending something attacking, blaming or judgemental. If negative emotions do surface as you write, acknowledge them, allow them to be there and use EFT - Emotional Freedom Technique (see the free resources at the end of the blog) to clear them.
There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror which reflects it - Buddha
Burning a pink candle is said to aid emotional healing. Pink represents love in its purest form. It is the colour of universal love. Burning a pink candle can be used for self-healing to ease anxiety and reduce depression. Pink candles also carry the associations of self-love, joy, friendship and harmony. I love pink because it is the colour of femininity and spiritual healing.
Of course, it will be a personal choice if and when you decide to burn a pink candle. This may be something you do once, on special occasions in remembrance of your mother, when you feel you need to, or as part of a specific ceremony to honour your mother’s life or to say goodbye to her. There are no set rules here. Personally, I like to create a clean space in an area of my choice inside my home. I place fresh flowers in a vase (my mother’s). I sometimes have photographs close by which capture memories of when we were together and looked happy and relaxed in each other’s company. Sometimes, I just burn the candle and send love and light to my mother.
You don’t need to follow a religion or belief to perform this ceremony. I share it here as a self-healing opportunity as a way to say goodbye to your mother or the mother you hoped for. I have found this to be an important part of grief work and an opportunity for self-reflection and a way of remembering my mother and some of our golden moments.
Golden Nuggets for Self-Healing
I must choose between despair and Energy - I choose the latter - John Keats
EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) is an energy-based technique aiding you to release emotional build-up. Many female celebrities such as actress, Whoopi Goldberg, Soprano Rachel Cobb, Bond Girl Naomi Harris, actress Nicole Kidman and singer-songwriters Madonna and Lily Allen are all using EFT to provide emotional release or to overcome a variety of problems. The Guild of Energists (GoE) provides some wonderful research and studies in this area. As you work though the free resources offered at the end of the blog and Mothers and Daughters, the book addressing past hurts, fears, disappointments and regrets in relation to your mother, you will find a deep sense of relief when you finally let go of the past. EFT is one of the best energy-based techniques I know; it’s easy to learn and it is there at your finger tips whenever you need it.
My first book Find YOU, Find LOVE: Get to the heart of love and relationships using EFT, offers an array of information, tools and techniques to help you find love within yourself. You can download some free resources related to the book at www.wendyfry.com
Talking it Through
The best way out is always through - Robert Frost
Talking about your thoughts, feelings and emotions will always aid the healing process. Finding a non-judgemental friend who will listen and offer support, or working with a qualified therapist to help you ease the pain from the past, will be one of the best investments you ever make.
Writing all your thoughts down in a journal is another way of speaking, if you feel you are not ready to work with a therapist.
Journal writing is the voyage to the interior – Christina Baldwin
There are so many benefits to journaling. It clears your mind and gives you a new perspective. It is a means of stress reduction, improving personal growth, healing, enhancing intuition and creativity and offers an opportunity for you to capture your life story.
The things you may fear saying to your mother or others, can be voiced freely in your journal. This is your private diary to write in, read back and reflect on whenever you feel like it. Alternatively, you can simply let it all out and then destroy the entries as you go along.
How to Journal
1. Make a commitment to write every day (for up to 20 minutes on two sides of A4 paper). Pick a quieter time of day or include it as part of your self-care routine
2. Make it easy, keep a notebook or pen and paper close to hand to write down your thoughts as they come to you
3. You might wish to name your journal, ‘My Memories’, ‘My Reflections’ or ‘My Self-care Journal’. There is no need to name it if you do not want to, as it may include a combination of all these things, once you begin the writing process
4. Pick a theme to write about each day (for instance, writing about happy times spent with your mother, or about the things you’ve learnt from her which have been helpful to you)
5. You could create a timeline in your journal and make a record of your childhood years right up to adulthood, including in the account, areas of your past which have caused you pain and which can be worked on through EFT
6. Write uncensored and record whatever feels right for you. Let the words flow freely without worrying about grammar, punctuation or spelling. Handwriting too, can be freestyle; you may even like to write with your non-dominant hand (i.e. if you are right-handed, try it with your left). The Creative Journal by Lucia Capacchione details use of your dominant and non-dominant hand to further communicate and express emotion
7. Use your journal as you wish. It can be used alongside this book or separately, as you see fit
8. Through use of journaling, you are taking care of yourself, helping your own healing and expressing all of who you are
If you want to read more on the benefits of journaling, I recommend Kathleen Adams, Journal to the Self: Twenty-two Paths to Personal Growth.
Here's an outline of some of the freebies available to you at www.mothersanddaughters.solutions simply subscribe to receive these lovely bonuses over the next 60 days straight to your inbox * Free chapter - Welcome to the Journey of You * EFT Quick Start Guide (Emotional Freedom Technique) * Mothers and Daughters Q&A * Love and Relationship Inventory * Guided Relaxation - Negative Memory Release * The Spotlight Process * Power Questions * Who Am I? Exercise * 10 Steps to Setting Healthy Personal Boundaries * A Time for Healing
Please do consider these forms of self-expression and those shared in Chapter Six of Mothers and Daughters if you need further closure or feel free to make contact to work with me in person on a programme of support.
To conclude this blog series called Mining for Gold, it is my sincerest wish you find some buried gold and memories to treasure. You never know what riches you will find when you take the time to understand your mother and honour the life she gave you.
The next blog series to follow is entitled 'The Beginning of You', there would be no you without your mother gave you the gift of life and it is my hope you will stay with me and learn more about who you are as well as the relationship with your mother.
We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves - Dali Lama