Passing away is a fact of life. We are met with it daily and are all just travellers in that respect, just passing by, each leaving our own unique mark on the world before we leave it. Reason knows it and yet heart can not help being broken when we lose a loved one. No other death has effected me as much as my mum’s. At the age of 78, just few days short of her 79th birthday, she surprised us all by leaving this existence, as we know it.

Past month I went from numb to my mind racing 100 miles per hour. Starting with – how is it possible that we can just be no more. I just could not stomach the fact that I could never call her again and speak to her…

In hindsight, I remember that my mum seemed different to me last few months. There was definitely some anxiety, even sadness. She was worried about back home… from weather to politics. And she worried a lot more than usual, like when you realise you are just too old for another tough fight ahead. And she had a fair share of them in her life.

Her passing left many questions, main being if she felt the end was near, what did I miss and where is she now? Not her body, but HER… her soul, her essence, her energy? I have never asked myself that before. I just have this need to know she is OK. Or perhaps we are not meant to know and the best I can do is to remember her in life. One thing I know for sure is – I am part of her and she will always live through me.

Mother-daughter relationship can be a difficult one and my mum and I were no strangers to that fact. We had to work on it. Really hard. Sometimes we succeeded and sometimes… not so much. We learnt to agree to disagree. One thing I know is that she loved me so much and when criticizing my decisions, it was just her way of saying that she is afraid I might not be better off with the outcome of that decision… based on her experience, views, the way she thought of life. She lacked my perspective before reacting. Like we lack it when arguing with others.

Most disagreements are just lack of communication skills, nothing else. I wish I focused more on that fact rather than being hung up on her reactions. I wish I was softer at times. Being kinder, rather than trying to be right. I think we are all guilty of this.

Our parents can be our biggest teachers, not just in life, but in death too. During her life, my mum taught me and has shown me love, discipline, self-respect, dignity, honesty. In her death, it was obvious how much she was loved and respected by her friends, family members, neighbours for all who she was and I was blessed with some great life lessons:

  • Cherish relationships. So many people have shown me the support after her passing, it was beautiful and made difficult situation easier. True friendships shone the brightest when I needed them the most. People I did not expect to reach out to me, did. People I knew I could count on, proved me right and some more. Grief pulled me closer to many I allowed distance to set me apart from over the years. Many indebted me forever with their kindness and support. I felt belonging to my roots more than ever. This was a therapy in action. Whilst she was no one else’s mum but mine and I may have carried most grief, I could see the pain others felt, especially those who have already gone through this experience. And they were there to help me through my grief despite still feeling raw from their own. My immediate family, my husband in particular, has proven once again to be my rock and my hero.
  • Forgive sooner. At her funeral service, Imam asked everyone to forgive her with their whole heart and soul if she has done anything to anyone for which they might still hold the grudge. He then asked three times: “Did you forgive her? Did you forgive her? Did you forgive her?” Each time when firm “yes” echoed amongst the crowd, I felt my throat was tightening as I was choking back the tears. I don’t know why that resonated with me so much, but it made me make a pledge with myself, there and then, not to wait to the dying day to forgive someone, their dying day or mine. Why wait, what is the point when we are asked to forgive anyway? Forgiving does not mean forgetting that it has ever happened or approving it, it simply means accepting each and every person as human, bound to make mistakes, even colossal ones, and letting go of the pain they caused us. As for us to move on with our lives, we must let go of the past hurts and its poison and imprisonment. If it is true that only hurt people hurt other people – then we are hurt by someone already in pain whether they realise it or not. Dwelling on our own pain can also cause us to hurt others as pain continues to eat us from within. What a tragedy that would be of our own making! That very day I forgave everything to everyone, most importantly – I forgave myself.
  • Accumulate less. Truth is, we can not take anything with us to our grave. My mum loved beautiful things, it gave her such joy. She bought only quality stuff, but, after her death, it pained me how much I had to just give away or sell next to nothing whilst she invested last 27 years of her life in the UK accumulating the same. It did not feel good. Like I had no right. I tried to give to as many of her friends and family members something to remember her by knowing she would have loved that I did so. I kept a fair amount for myself. But, a month later and her apartment was just an empty shell, like she has never existed. What does remain are the memories, imprint we leave on others – what kind of person we were, what kind of life we lived, how we made others feel. All material possessions become irrelevant. I am grateful she left me some beautiful things to enjoy and remember her by, however, next time I reach out to buy yet another beautiful thing I most probably do not need, I wish to remember to ask myself if it is necessary or, instead, what I can give away if I decide to buy it.
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff. This is bar far the least original, but, right up there with oxygen for a stress-free life. Stress ages us, depresses us. Small stresses accumulate over time. So, resist nothing. Find way to accept situations and circumstances as they present themselves. Be like water. Flow. Focus on the solution. Respond rather than react or overreact. Small hurts, gossip, judging, dwelling, those are toxic. Therefore, breathe. Flow. Smile. Life is too short for anything less. Because life is meant to be joyous. Everyone can find their joy. My mum was so good at it through her gardening, decorating, long coffee breaks with friends over great conversations, time she spent with us. But she was also the victim of social media drama and constant news, fake or not, but enough to worry her, occupy her, give her anxiety, take the joy away she was so good at creating in other areas of her life. All because she was so passionate about her homeland, its progress and its people. And world is changing for worse before our eyes… before it gets better again. She felt it and could not shake the worry and disappointment. We all see there is so much pain, destruction, dishonesty and it is easy to feel paralysed. I, however, want to learn from it by focusing on what is really important. What gives me joy. What deepens my relationships and connections with people, my family in particular. What makes me and keeps me happy, kind, loving, honest, healthy. I really want to remember this. Always. That is how we change the world – by changing the reality we each focus on each and every day. By steering our focus onto what is good, positive, kind, helpful. The rest is “small stuff”.

At the end, what else to say but thank you, mum, you continue to teach me. And I love you always and forever. You were much loved and you will continue to live on through us who you left behind. We will make you proud.

Your daughter x

Farewell to my dear mama

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