After almost a week in hospice, with loved ones by her side, my mother gave up the ghost. Long after I said goodbye, “give up the ghost” lingered in my mind. For over a decade I had walked with Mom through the tunnels of advancing dementia, then stood watch in the dim light of her hospice room. Over and over, she seemed ready to go. Her breath would stop, then twenty seconds later, she’d suck in air and battle on with furrowed brow. Giving up the ghost took on a different meaning.
‘Giving up the ghost’ comes from the King James Version of Jesus’ death on the cross. It’s also used commonly, as an old car gives up the ghost.
For Mom, I think more of ghosts that haunt. Ghosts that lurk around corners and pounce at unexpected times. Ghosts of Christmas Past. Ghosts of if-only. Ghosts of what-I-should-have-done.
I believe the “ghost” that threatened her peace and made her reluctant to run to the Light was guilt over the death of a tiny soul.
When I was ten, my youngest brother drowned. As families will after a tragedy, we all privately blamed ourselves. But Mom was the mother, and she hadn’t cared for her three-year-old. Though she maintained she was fine, since Mac was safely in heaven with Jesus, that event shook her foundations, and brought her back to her Lord.
However, as executive function diminished in her brain toward the end of her life, nightmares and delusions often crowded out her joy. In the final days, clearly she could not let go. When my sister and I, separately, talked to Mom of going to heaven, that her mother and sisters were waiting for her, she beamed. But when we mentioned our little brother, she drew back, almost in fear, and the darkness covered her again. When we realized what was happening, we assured her that she was forgiven, by Jesus, and by Mac.
Still, I believe she was afraid to face that child.
After several more days of prayers, Psalm reading and songs, Mom found peace. The shadows gone, she is restored and whole and radiant. With her dear son, and the Son who makes true restoration possible.
Why, you ask, am I sharing this with you?
Because many of us have buried pain. Remorse still raw, or guilt not absolved. Perhaps “The Secret” that lingers in the shadows, waiting to accuse, again.
I’m encouraged by the lesson from my mother’s bedside to continue to let go. To journey forward on The Healing Path, and offer you, my friend, a hand.
When it’s my time, I want to run to Jesus with open arms, not edging back into the darkness.
Come join the journey to Peace.
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matt 11: 28-30
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