It’s a sight no parent should ever see—her child in a coffin.
Recently I attended the funeral viewing for a 12-year-old little girl. She wore a pink sweater, and, because she had been handicapped, her sweetly crossed, diminutive hands looked like those of a six-year-old.
The child’s mother, “Jill,” was a friend of mine from A Course in Miracles group. I had just run into her two weeks earlier at Whole Foods after not seeing her for several years. We were joyous to see each other and hugged three times. I always related to her because she had lost custody of her children and I had lost custody of my daughter. She had gotten custody back, and it made my day. She was remarried, very happy, and said her spiritual path was her family, dog and horse. She pulled out pictures of her kids, including her step-kids and husband.
Three days later tragedy struck. When I got the email, I cried out, “Oh, Sh--! Oh, My God! Oh, No!” I told my partner Rod that Jill’s daughter had died in a freak accident and he said, “Look at you! You’re going right into the illusion.” That may sound harsh, but it was the best thing I could have heard.
This past year I have been diligently following the Course’s dictum that my only function is forgiveness (W-62-66), which in Course terms means that this world is not real and I have to forgive myself for believing in it if I want to be enlightened. I have been applying the thought, “Nothing I see means anything,” which is the very first workbook lesson, to everything, including the things that are dear to me.
Before Jill's daughter died, I had told Rod that one of the major things that still grabs me and pulls me into believing the dream is the death of loved ones, especially when a mother loses her child. I knew I was faced with a decision for the Right Mind, the Holy Spirit’s loving view of this world, or the wrong mind, the ego’s enchantment with death and despair. I was determined to discipline the mind and choose Truth instead of illusion. I firmly held the idea that Jill is not a mother who has lost her child, but the Self who cannot be hurt and has never separated from God. Her daughter is not a child who died tragically, but the Self, safe in the arms of God. There is no death. The Son of God is free. (W-163.h)
A Course in Miracles tells us, “Do not side with sickness (death) in the presence of a Son of God even if he believes in it, for your acceptance of God in him acknowledges the Love of God he has forgotten. Your recognition of him as part of God reminds him of the truth about himself, which he is denying.” (T-10.III.3:4-5) The best way I can help Jill is to keep my mind clear about Who she is, not to see her as “poor Jill.” This does not mean to deny or minimize her devastating grief, rather to know that Who she really is goes beyond that.
I used to fear that if I held the Truth and stopped crying and engaging in the illusion that I’d be callous. I had prided myself on being a good psychotherapist, who could empathize with anyone. Today I choose to compassionately approach situations with the Course’s answer: (Forgiveness) looks on them with quiet eyes and merely says to them, “My brother, what you think is not the truth.” (W-134.7:5)
My psychotherapy training would say, “But she has to wail and grieve and take several years before she gets over this, and, really, she’ll never get over it!” However, Jill can choose with the Holy Spirit and change her mind NOW. Yes, as long as she has a false identity, that she’s an individual separate from God, that she is a mother who has lost her child, she will grieve intensely. And the body may need to heave and cry to release the shock. But when Jill accepts that she is whole and cannot possibly be separated from her child or from God, she will be at peace. And that choice is available to her at every moment—she does not have to grieve several years before she obtains it.
Are you identifying yourself as someone who has lost a loved one and is separate from him/her? Who are YOU, really? Are you the one Self, or a frightened, individual, alone in this painful world? I invite you to choose the Truth of Who you really are.
Blessings, Lorri Coburn