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Threshold Transformations

a Holy Lament blog 

A sacred space for heartfelt reflections from our community members journeying through the Landscape of Loss

The Story of My Mother's Death

return May 07, 2024

The story of my mother's death begins with disconnection.


I never felt deeply connected to my mother. It's difficult to say why, but we struggled in our relationship until later in my adulthood, when I made peace with the disconnection.


When she became ill with early-onset Alzheimer's Disease, we grew even closer. I gave her energy work sessions when conversations were too much. I could tell that they calmed her down, if only for an hour or two.


When she died, I was living in Hawaii, as I still do today. Somehow her illness was a catalyst for me to move from Nashville, Tennessee to the Big Island, and I will never fully understand the mystery that brought me here.


This island carries such powerful Feminine energy that if you are struggling to connect to life itself, it kind of blows you away. The volcanic activity, the intensely blue ocean, the whales and dolphins, and the Hawaiian culture itself, all hold humans in a deep embrace of Motherhood, and you cannot escape it. When your wounds arise, you either deal with them, or you leave.


It was thrilling when I first got here. I was in a state of perpetual amazement, driving around thinking, “I'm on a tiny island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean,” feeling safe and yet overwhelmed at the same time. It was a completely new feeling. 


I followed a guy here. That guy eventually married someone else, which was for the best. But he did me the favor of planting the idea of Hawaii in my head, because I never would have come up with it on my own. He joined a spiritual community that I decided was not for me, but I found my own communities and made my home here.


I work as a clinical social worker, “loving people for a living,” as I like to say, because that's what my own therapist did for me. Maybe it's not a very popular way of thinking about therapy, but I think deep down, that's what people are looking for. 


I always felt as though my mother was a covert spiritual seeker. Suburban wife and mother, dear friend to many, she gave me books like The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran and Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. If we talked about these books, I don't remember the conversations. They were like secret gifts from the underground of the feminine heart. 


She posted on her bathroom mirror: “You can let me take control today. --God” or something very similar. I never talked to her about that, either, but I always remembered it.


I'm a very spiritual person today, but in “unconventional” ways relative to my Presbyterian background. Hindu chanting, Sufi dances, Buddhist courses and communities. I'm a full-fledged seeker and not ashamed of it at all.


My mother seemed stunted in her self-expression to me, although neither she, nor anyone else in our family ever talked about this. My father is a physician, and the world seemed to revolve around his career and reputation, which she supported in the background. 


I want to be different from this patriarchal paradigm in which I was raised. I am different already, but there is more to be said. More to be expressed.


It feels like there is volcanic activity in my soul just beginning to erupt. The threshold of Return invites us to co-create a new reality, but I think the new life is already there just waiting for me to give it space. 


by Sarah Anderson
Holy Lament member

Grief isn't an illness or mistake, it is a natural and sacred response to life’s inevitable losses. It is also a crucible for transformation. 

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