How My Mother’s Death Taught Me How to Be Happy
By Dr. Genevieve Price
A little over a year ago, I was shocked with the most painful news of my life. I was sitting on a train from San Diego en route to LA, and my father called from the Philippines to tell me that my mother had passed away. An electric shock sensation crawled down my spine and I started to wail on a train full of strangers. I was an ocean away, so far from my family that my mind could not register the painful reality. My mother had no debilitating or life-threatening conditions to the knowledge of myself and my family.
My suffering has become my healing. Throughout the past year, I have gone through the stages of grief. Being the only doctor in my family, I processed through guilt that I could not do more to keep my mother alive and protect my family. Beyond being a doctor, I was a daughter, and could not view my mother’s health in the same unbiased way that I was able to view the health of my patients. Beyond being a patient, she was my mother and did not disclose to me the extent to which she was sick, perhaps to protect me and my siblings. Perhaps she was unaware of how fragile her health actually was. I will never get clear answers to these questions, and now I have come to a place of acceptance. She left her body because it was her soul’s time.
In accepting my mother’s death, I have also accepted my own limitations and my own humanness. Her death exposed my illusions of control, my trivial stressors, and my clouded focus. Through the process of grief, I have let go of insignificant preoccupations and have connected to my soul’s highest purpose. I was a doctor but had not fully shown up as a healer. I am now present in my life in a way that I had never been. Accepting the painful reality of her death woke me up to our shared humanness with a heightened awareness of mortality. Acknowledging the fragility of life, I feel an imperative to do what brings me joy and fulfillment, to promote health and happiness for myself and others, and try to always act in a way that is loving.
My wish for each and every human being is to have the vitality and quality of life to fulfill their highest desires, and suffering from a chronic disease can often prevent one from doing so. My mother was not always in the best of health and had a lot of risk factors such as diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and as my family later discovered on autopsy, advanced-stage cancer that progressed over a short span of six months until she died. I never saw her the whole time she suffered from cancer. Her death and the death of all mothers is a testament to the fragility of life and the importance of health. Moving through the pain of her death has strengthened my resolve to work with people suffering from chronic diseases so that they can be fully present for their loved ones and do what brings them joy in this precious human life with minimal suffering.
On Mother’s Day, I feel nostalgic and sad that my mother is no longer here in her human form, but I also celebrate her life and continued presence in spirit. Through her death and departure from her body, she has reconnected to an infinite source of love, happiness, and total freedom from suffering that we can all access now in moments of complete peace and surrender. Although her departure left a hole in my heart, through grief I have reconnected to the mother within myself, that infinite source of unconditional love.
Dr. Genevieve Price is a San Diego naturopathic doctor. She completed a four-year doctoral program and one-year naturopathic general medicine residency at Bastyr University. Her bachelor’s degree is in Neuroscience from Barnard College. These studies have shaped her perspective that psychological health is key to maintaining physical health. She consults with patients at her clinic in sunny San Diego as well as remotely from around the world through telehealth. She specializes in management and prevention of chronic diseases, such as depression and anxiety, chronic pain and fatigue, cancer, and hormone imbalances such as thyroid and adrenal dysfunction, menopause, and menstrual irregularities. She treats the root cause of disease using the least invasive therapies first in order to minimize harmful side effects. Her ultimate goal is for her patients to have the health and vitality to fulfill their highest purposes in life.
Disclaimer: Making lifestyle changes set the terrain for optimal health. However, this article is not a replacement for an individualized medical consultation that tailors treatment to your individual needs given your unique medical history.