My father passed away in October 2020 from colon cancer. I’m a 19 year old girl. My parents had a rough marriage, and throughout that time my relationship with my father was the strongest, but I was always on cordial terms with mom. Three months after dad’s passing, my mom’s started dating another person. Ever since I’ve come to know about it, things have been going downhill between us. I’ve practically started hating her for no reason. But I want to change this. What should I do?
—N S, India
Before I bring up the power of prayer, let me suggest that you step up ever more into the situation, “shoes,” of your mother, your adult-self, and your soul-self. Let me explain:
- At the risk of playing amateur therapist, and at the risk of stating the obvious, the very fact of your mother’s dating (which in turn symbolizes her effort to find human happiness and step away from the previously difficult relationship) is a rejection of the life of one who is your father. So your internal and almost subconscious dislike or resentment of your mother’s actions are entirely consistent with what you have gone through.
- You are, as you say, 19 years old and in a very vulnerable transition stage away from childhood and having to accept the loss of childhood — both in fact and in the form or symbol of your father’s death. This is part of #1 above. Grief turns to anger, as is often said.
- Your situation is an invitation to see your circumstances not with the eyes of a child but with the eyes of an adult. This is particularized in the form of your mother: that is, you have the opportunity to see the situation through her eyes rather than only your own. This, in fact, is what it means to be mature; to be an adult.
- From your mother’s perspective, your father’s death has provided an end, a natural end, to the conflicted relationship that she had with him. She cannot help on some level to be grateful, even if not consciously. Remember this and resist the temptation to resent this simple fact: as your father can stand as a symbol for your now lost childhood, so too you, for your mother stand, as a symbol of her now ended but unhappy marriage.
- As your mother pursues a new life and is dating, I urge you to be compassionate and to be an adult and give her the psychic and emotional freedom to move on. This, interestingly and fortunately enough, is your ooportunity to do what life urges you to do at your age: separate from your parents and your childhood and walk with openness, intelligence, and calmness toward your life as an adult. Some day you may look back and realize that, though of course you cannot help but miss your father, given that it was his time to go, it was the best thing ever for your growth toward maturity.
- Now back to my own field. This confusing, emotional, and vulnerable stage and circumstance of your life will find great solace, wisdom, and strength from deepening your life of prayer, meditation and service. As you are on the cusp of adulthood you are given “the opportunity of a lifetime.” Let me explain.
You can see from the example of your parents’ lives how fraught life is with exigencies: of unforeseen (and too often undesirable) circumstances. At your stage of life, it would be normal to be looking forward, consciously or subconsciously, toward marriage, a life partner, or, nowadays, a special “friend.” Life, in any case, beckons you to make life decisions: career, health, marriage, family, culture, and much more. The decisions you make in the next 5 to 12 years will greatly impact your life.
And yet, the rishis warn us that most of these apparent choices and circumstances and people that enter our lives are like actors in the wings of the stage about to make their entrance from a script written long ago.
Where will you turn for help and understanding — for love that knows no other, that has no limiting condition? God alone has created this world and you and me. God, then, we have been destined to seek: not merely the pleasure and success baubles of this uncertain and ever-changing world.
As Krishna counsels Arjuna in the Gita: you have to act. But act with the guidance and in the love of the Lord. This, right now, is the best time to enter or to deepen your soul’s longing for true love, for lasting happiness. Meditation is the greatest tool for achieving divine contact. It requires nothing but your mind and heart, though a healthy body is a great aid (think: yoga).
“Be thou a yogi, O Arjuna!” The time has come for you to stand tall and strong and begin your life. But who are you? “Aham Brahmasi” — “Tat twam asi“. Be of good cheer, Divine Mother is guiding you towards freedom in Her love.