In Life as in Death


My mother had a saying up on the wall in her home office that read: “No one is completely worthless; they can always serve as a bad example.” Not that my mom’s passing was a bad example — it was what it was — but I think she missed out on some opportunities to settle things, to make amends or make things right.

Her passing was much like her life, which she often saw as difficult. She experienced chronic health problems since her teenage years, and a lot of her energy was put towards managing her symptoms of arthritis and heart issues. For the last 28 years of her life, she was married to an emotionally abusive man whose needs always got put before her own, but she did her best to cover her upset, fear and anger.

I had hoped that after she was diagnosed she would make arrangements or settle her affairs, but she was in denial about the whole thing. They were moved to an assisted living facility, where she didn’t have to manage everything on her own — but she still wasn’t prepared to deal with any of her emotional baggage. She refused to talk to the hospice clergy or the workers or me about anything. She always told everyone she was fine.

When her health had declined to the point where she wasn’t able to get out of bed, she told us that she was done. She refused any further medication. She knew full well what that would mean; she was on diuretics to keep her heart and lungs from filling with fluid. It wasn’t going to be a comfortable passing. Twenty-four hours later, she became delirious and her passing began.

She had seen her life as a struggle most of the time, so I guess the struggle she experienced in her passing wasn’t a surprise — but it was quite remarkable. She started saying “no” over and over as if she didn’t want to do something or she wanted something to stop. It was like she was fighting with someone.

She said to me, “I can’t see it! Help me see it!”

So I asked her to see a bridge and see the people on the other side waiting to welcome her. I started describing it in detail and told her that her dear friends and family were there waiting to hug her. A bit later she called for two healer friends of ours, so I called them and held the phone to her ear so she could hear them. One of them started singing to her — and after a minute or so she barked, “Stop singing!”

Shortly after the last call she said, “Drum!” I asked if she wanted me to play her drum and she said yes, so I played it until she ordered me to stop. All this time, she was in and out of her body and she was fighting and sweating. It was like she was passing through different levels and needed something different each time.

Next was “Amethyst!” So I put her amethyst cluster on her heart. Ten minutes later she said to take it away, and then she wanted her tuning forks to be played. After that, she was finally able to rest but she was still moaning and saying no occasionally.

About eight hours after this started, she said, “I can see it now. I’m going. Bye.” I told her I loved her and she said, “Love you, too.” She didn’t talk any more after that. She was gone, but her body carried on for another few hours before it too finally stopped.

I’ve thought about that night so many times since she passed, about how the experience seemed so indicative of how my mom was in life. She had a big personality and was quite funny and very well liked, but deep down she was angry, scared and often upset. Even though she was into spirituality and had many opportunities to take some steps to heal her emotional body, she avoided it or wanted someone to do it for her somehow. She struggled in life — and she struggled in death.

Witnessing my mother’s passing has given me a look at how I want to respond to my life and my eventual death. I will strive for peace.

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Rev. Lisa Severson
Lisa Severson is a Holistic Life Coach, Energy Healer and Interfaith Minister who specializes in addressing all aspects of a person's life to bring about balance, joy and healing. She can be reached at 612.800.4461 or


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