After the death of my mother

Daryl HattonPersonal

My mother Darlene died yesterday morning. It was quick and probably painless. She got up out of bed and collapsed – likely from an aneurysm in her brain. She was 80.


I’ve been sitting here tonight feeling wonderful with all the love pouring in from friends through Facebook and over the phone. But I’m still puzzled and amazed by the differences in the way I see what has happened compared with the responses from most everyone else.

My heart is not breaking. I’m not feeling a tremendous loss. I’m not going through some of the extreme pain that others are going through. I will miss her but I don’t feel like a part of me has been ripped away. And I don’t think I’m broken. Perhaps quite the contrary.

I’m celebrating her. Almost overjoyed at her ability to check out on her terms with grace and elegance and a sense of humor and, most importantly, a sense of adventure. Not because she forced her way out but because she allowed it to happen naturally. She didn’t MAKE anything happen; she ALLOWED it to happen. This is mastery.

She was an anchor of the Amica community. Her goodwill was so profound and her relationships so strong that they had to set up visitations from the residents and staff who came one at a time to see her before they took her body away. I’m told some of them thanked her for being such a good friend. She’d only known these people (who can’t remember squat) for a year and a bit. Can we say “quietly impactful”?

So I’m not upset. I’m a bit sad but mostly really happy for her.

Someone asked me how it was that I can be and think this way. I think it gets down to a few simple thoughts:

  • If you really believe in something, then act based on it i.e. trust it. I believe we are all connected regardless of this physical plane. This isn’t just about life after death; this is life outside of what we think of as life that occurs in parallel with life. If this idea is “true”, then why mourn the transition from one state to another? It is simply another step on the journey and, more likely and more importantly, a step up and forward, not back to darkness. It is something to celebrate!
  • Death is a part of life. We can choose to fear it or embrace it. I’m not looking to advance my own as I’m kind of enjoying this stage but I’m not all that afraid of it. I went to sleep the night before my heart surgery with the thought “If this was all that I did this time, it was enough – I’m OK with it”. It was an amazing feeling of peace. And I slept well.
  • People are not possessions – they are gifts from the universe of time and energy. I think many people mourn because they haven’t taken the time to take in the gift when it is presented to them. Their regrets are what hurt them.
  • It doesn’t matter how long you get with someone – every little bit is important. I’m grateful for the time I’ve had with mom, not resentful that there wasn’t more. This is a HUGELY powerful yet calming feeling.
  • I think many people are screwed up about death because of religion. The abuse of trust and the manipulation of emotions for the sake of power makes me sad and somewhat angry. It is slightly strange but I think of religion as the combinatory yin/yang of good/evil. It is both a force for good and a manifestation of evil. They are mostly in balance. Recently I see it swinging a bit in the wrong direction…

I’ve been wondering about the wisdom of turning this into a blog post as I think it may be too soon and too raw for others to deal with right now. The hardest part of this whole adventure is dealing with the hurt feelings so many people have at mom’s passing. I’m such an empath that talking with them brings out the tears in a heartbeat. As I said to my big brother uncle Terry today “it exposes the cracks in my armor and lets the knife penetrate”. He called it a family genetic defect we all share. Probably true. LOL.

Last night Myra, McKenna and I watched the Guernsey Literary Club (a movie). It was a well-acted well-written love story that dealt with many hard issues of life that came up during the German occupation of Guernsey. We laughed and cried – deeply. It was the perfect way to end the day.

Mom & I – a very long time ago…