Forgiving Ourselves

April 9, 2010

Carole Crews is another one of my heroes, a mother who, in the face of the unexpected death of her beloved daughter, radiates courage, compassion, and breathtaking honesty.  She has granted me permission to post some of her recent reflections below, which she wrote following a Vipassana meditation retreat.  Carole’s 18-year-old daughter Iris, a gifted artist and poet, died in January.

I have to comment on your beautiful blog post I just read about your visit with Kate, etc.  I so much agree with you that after death the veil is lifted for a time and we can see beyond our ordinary lives into the vast realm that contains time, souls and the universal consciousness. I’ve been reading a lot about near death experiences and feel like I’ve had one. (In the sense of having someone near me die, I have).

The experience you had with Jenny coming to you in Mexico was so beautiful, and I have felt Iris a few times in a similar way. At the meditation, of course it was impossible to empty my mind during the entire period and I chose to think over a lot of what was going on in it. I was torturing myself for things I felt I should perhaps have done differently, and Iris came with this enveloping pressure mainly around my head and said, “Make peace with this now, Mom, It’s not your fault.” It’s taken me a lot of work and time to do this, and her writing has helped so very much, but I have also thought through every other possible scenario and realize the end result could still have been the same, but our relationship might not have stayed as loving and intact. One evening I wrote down a lot of my disappointments in myself and deliberately forgave myself and threw the papers in the fire.

Right after Iris died, I felt so strongly that grace you spoke of that comes immediately and is like a mind-expanding drug. The memory of that feeling still helps me cope. Synchronicities remind me of the bigger picture as well, and I’ve had so very many of them! We have a choice in how we’re going to think and respond, certainly well taught by Dr. Goenka, through video presentations at the meditation retreat. He had a great lecture on death and said to consider it a promotion. It’s our attachment to what is “mine” that makes it so hard. I managed a full week of meditation, but decided to leave on the 8th day so I could get to Chattanooga for the weekend to do the ceremony with her friends. I felt strongly during the meditation that this is what I needed to do, and the timing and the weather were perfect.

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