Earlier this year I read for a woman who had lost her child to cancer. She was wracked with ‘mother guilt’ as her son referred to it when he came through. Partly this guilt related to her sense of failure as a mother for not somehow saving her son from this disease and partly to her inability at times to save her son from the tortures of fruitless medical intervention. But the most painful sense of guilt lay in her interpretation of her behaviour not long before her son passed. At this point her son was unable to respond in anyway and was unable to eat or drink. In a state of denial, as she later believed herself to be, this distraught and loving mother insisted on trying to feed her child.
As she finished sharing this during the reading her son responded by saying that far from an act of denial it was a profound act of love that was necessary for both of them and spoke to the primal need that exists between mother and child – to nurture and be nurtured. Her son said that for him this seemingly simple act reminded him of two very important things. Firstly it symbolised the depth of his mother’s love for him. Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, it reminded him that in fact He was not going to die, only his body. As such He still needed nurturing and would always respond to his mother’s love. He went on to say that his mother’s attempts to feed his body fed his soul and allowed him to fully prepare to leave his body without fear.
It would seem to me that when caring for those who are preparing to die, acting from love will always provide what is needed, even if at times both ourselves and others may view our actions as less than rational. This beautiful depiction of mother-love speaks to the profound power of such simple acts of love and demonstrates that these stay with those in our care over time and life, both during and after their embodiment.
Mother and Child by Pablo Picasso