This is a difficult, confronting and deeply emotional story about death that must be told. I hope it finds its way to anyone who is struggling to come to terms with grief – particularly mothers of stillborn babies.
Once Upon A Time
My late mother Maja emigrated to Australia in the late 1940s from the ‘Iron Curtain’ Baltic State of Estonia in northern Europe. She eventually settled in Adelaide, South Australia where she met her Estonian husband Karl. After escaping from the Soviet terror and oppression that befell their homeland, falling in love must have felt like a fairy tale to end all fairy tales.
I grew up knowing that that my mother suffered from several miscarriages and gave birth to a stillborn baby girl in the early 1960s but it wasn’t until the mid-1990s that she spoke at length about her traumatic ordeal. While her story affected me deeply, it also helped me understand my mother and her grief so much more.
She recounted the relief of successfully carrying a baby full-term, but feeling heavily pregnant and more than ready to give birth. Her calculations indicated that she was overdue but when she requested that she be induced, the Rose Park Hospital doctors insisted that they knew better and sent her home. When my mother believed she was at least ten days overdue, she sensed that something was terribly wrong and returned to the hospital, pleading to be induced immediately. This time, the doctors didn’t argue.
Tragically, her beautiful baby daughter was born stillborn; the memory of helplessly watching a nurse wrap her baby’s body in a cloth and whisking her away without saying a word, felt like yesterday. She described how a group of doctors nervously huddled together with their backs to her, whispering in hushed tones. Nobody could look at her, let alone talk to her, including my shocked father.
Deeply traumatized, my mother demanded that they bring her baby back but nobody acknowledged her. She needed to hold her child, to say goodbye but sadly, the hospital staff clearly had no training in how to deal with death in a caring, compassionate manner, through no fault of their own. Fed up with being ignored and feeling treated like a third-rate immigrant, she yelled at them to bring her baby back. A nurse eventually scurried out of the room and returned with her baby’s body. She held her daughter close until she was ready to let her go.
The final part of this story still haunts me. My parents never heard a single word from the hospital again and were deprived of the opportunity to give their child a funeral. Back in those days, stillborn babies were secretly buried by hospital authorities and stillbirth incidents were hushed up instead of investigated – as if the babies had never been born.
Just like my late father, I, too, had no words. Struggling to process this profoundly sad and infuriating story, I sat at my typewriter and thrashed it out on my mother’s behalf. Then I called a friend who was a senior newspaper reporter and arranged to meet him. Unable to speak, I handed him my typewritten pages. He looked over them and didn’t utter a word. I left him with it, not expecting anything to happen but to my surprise, an article appeared about a week later about an unmarked mass grave in Adelaide’s West Terrace cemetery where stillborn babies had been secretly buried. Parents were given the opportunity to come forward and give their child a respectful farewell with a special memorial.
I showed my mother the story, relieved that she now had the chance to say her final goodbye. Sadly, reliving the grief of losing her baby daughter proved too overwhelming and she shut herself down again. I respected her feelings and left it at that, as it felt inappropriate to act on my mother’s behalf – and I didn’t dare suggest it.
My Mother and the Medium
My mother died suddenly in September 2006. Her health had been failing for some time and our relationship had become increasingly strained. I saw less and less of her over the years and eventually gave up trying to resolve things. In hindsight, our relationship fractured on the day my father suddenly died in 1980 and we slowly grew apart due to our unresolved grief. On a happier note, my mother called me the day before she died and sounded unusually chirpy. Little did I know this would be the last time we would speak. Or so I thought.
My partner happened to be an evidential mental medium who never charged money for readings because he had a full-time job and just wanted to be of service. He considered himself a lifelong apprentice to spirit; a “humble postman” who simply delivered messages, word for word as best he could, from loved ones on the other side. His highly attuned gift of mediumship would bring me immense comfort and strength during the immediate aftermath of my mother’s unexpected death.
On the morning of the funeral, my partner rose earlier than usual. I hid under the covers, wishing that death and funerals would go away. He returned to the bedroom soon after, sobbing inconsolably and said he saw my mother sitting in our lounge-room wearing her wedding dress and holding an open hymn book. She acknowledged him and pointed to a sentence in Lord Is My Shepherd: ‘I have no ills.’ Surprised that she had come to visit us so soon after her passing, I felt a loving wave of relief wash over me as he recounted his most unexpected meeting with her. Curiously, earlier that week, our kind, Estonian pastor read Lord is My Shepherd to my sister, brother and me at our mother’s house.
The tone of this bittersweet story is about to change dramatically and may even raise a laugh or two. During the pastor’s solemn, opening words at the funeral service, my partner discreetly nudged me and pointed to an empty chair against the wall near the lectern. In his strong, Yorkshire accent, he whispered that my mother was sitting there listening and seemed quite ‘chuffed’ with the proceedings. When the pastor sat down, my partner leaned toward me again and said, “Linda, the pastor just sat on your mum’s lap.” I started to laugh but swiftly composed myself. It was a funeral after all.
When I think back to my father’s heart-wrenching funeral in 1980 and the impossible grief that followed, it feels like two different worlds.
My mother ‘moved in’ with us at our seaside home for at least a month after her funeral and many wondrous things occurred which made my grieving process so much easier to deal with. Three significant moments will stay with me forever and by sharing them, my wish is to provide grieving readers with a sense of hope and solace that I desperately sought, but never found, in the dark weeks, months and years that followed my father’s untimely, sudden death in 1980.
Sunday morning after the funeral, my partner and I sat outside drinking coffee, soaking up the peaceful, spring energy. Out of the blue, he said, “Linda, your mum’s here. She needs to talk to you.” Jolted out of my daydream, I prepared myself for what would become one of the most profound experiences of my life. He also said that my mother’s spiritual vibration was unusually strong.
For the next two hours, my partner relayed deeply personal, at times confronting feelings and questions and emotive anecdotes. While he knew about some of my past grievances with my mother, many of the issues she raised were such “old news” that I didn’t think they were even relevant anymore. How wrong I was. Trusting that my partner would be understanding of our previous conflicts and the role I played in co-creating them, I began to respond to my mother as though she was physically sitting at the table with us. In hindsight, it would have looked totally bizarre and out of this world to anyone else.
Immersed in an intense melting pot of truth, misconceptions, anger, honesty, laughter and love, my mother and I proceeded to resolve our many earthly differences, ‘discussing’ difficult, painful and at times infuriating issues that were previously shrouded in toxic silence and created an ever-widening rift until her death. The more grievances we shed as multiple floodgates opened, the stronger our fragile, yet unbreakable bond of love became; and the colossal relief we both felt after being heard and understood so deeply, was indescribable.
There is no need to share the nature of our grievances here – we all have them. My purpose is to demonstrate why there is no need to live with regret or guilt for the rest of your life when a loved one dies. Issues can be resolved after a loved one’s death with the assistance of an attuned, experienced, evidential medium but the challenge often lies in finding an experienced, evidential medium capable of facilitating such a detailed, high frequency ‘sitting’ or reading. Even my partner said that our sitting was a rare experience for him, and he had at least twenty years of experience by then.
The internet will have you believe that everyone is a highly attuned medium but this is not the case, so it is highly advisable to make peace with loved ones while they are still alive – if possible. ‘Tis said in the spirit world that ‘love is all there is’, and more often than not, loved ones who didn’t have to chance to reconcile their differences on the earthly plane will find their way to you from the spirit world to say sorry, ask for forgiveness and tell you how much they love you.
Toward the end of what I can only describe as a crystal clear, three-way-conversation spanning two dimensions and a myriad of powerful emotions, a peaceful calm descended upon us. My mother ended our sitting by acknowledging my repeated attempts to pass her an olive branch and heal our differences while she was still alive, conceding that she was too stubborn to meet halfway and accept a truce.
In turn, I apologized for all the upset I caused her over the years and told her that I loved her more than ever. As her energy began to fade, I basked in a soothing energy of love, compassion, peace, joy and gratitude for the profound healing that all three of us had just experienced. My partner was as blown away as I was by the marathon session and how he was able to maintain such a strong connection with my mother for such a long period of time. Higher sacred forces and energies were most certainly ‘holding space’ for us that day.
The second significant event occurred one afternoon when my partner excitedly called out to me from the garden shed. I rushed over and found him standing underneath a bright fluorescent light, with a strange look on his face. When I asked him what was wrong, he pointed to the unplugged light plug hanging from a rafter. Oh! At first, I thought it was some kind of trick because my partner was a known prankster, but when it dawned on me that we were witnessing something other worldly, we just stared, speechless, and then started to laugh. The light shone brightly, like magic, for a considerable amount of time and just as I said I was going back to the house to grab my camera, it flickered out. Aware that loved ones in spirit can manipulate electricity to gain our attention, we figured it was the work of my late dad who was a wildly humorous, electrical engineer in his earthly life.
The third significant event unfolded early one evening when we were relaxing in the lounge room. My partner’s attention suddenly diverted from the TV to the glass patio door. After intently tuning in to the energies, he said, “Linda, it’s your mother, she’s holding hands with a young, blonde-haired girl, about seven or eight years old.”
I felt my spirit shift and innately knew that it was my sister that mum lost at birth. He described the little girl as angelic and wearing a beautiful white dress. “She’s very shy,” he continued, “and your mother is gently coaxing her to move closer you. Here she comes now. She’s standing next to you and has just put her hand on your arm. She is saying hello to you.”
I said hello to my little sister, in awe of the deeply moving and surreal moment. We spent some time together in silence, basking in the most loving energy. They stayed awhile and then gently moved on, hand in hand. Knowing that my mother was reunited with the daughter she lost all those years ago was a soothing revelation. It also helped me release part of my mother’s unshakeable grief that I unknowingly carried ever since she shared the traumatic story of her stillborn daughter.
‘Linda, there is No Death’
The healing power of connecting with the spirit world is something that needs to be experienced first-hand to truly understand – with or without religious beliefs. While it took me forty years to connect with an authentic, evidential medium that gave me proof of life after death time and time again, I began to resonate with this foreign concept in the late 80s thanks to my father who began visiting me in my dreams when I finally broke through my nine-year denial phase. I clearly recall my father appearing in front of me in a comforting, ethereal environment – just us. He stood before me and extended his hand. When my hand met his, I physically felt it and knew I was experiencing something as real as my waking life.
Overcome by a joyful sense of wonder, excitement and relief all rolled into one, I said, “Dad, you’re not dead, are you?”
To which he steadfastly replied, “Linda, there is no death.”
In another vivid dream, my father was in an ethereal space that included a row of coffins. Then he put on a circus-like ‘show’ using coffins as props, jumping in and out and over them. He encouraged me to not be sad about seeing his body in a coffin when I was 17. Death was an illusion; it wasn’t real. His humour, reassurance and love were so comforting and strengthening, and I knew that our astral meeting was as real as the earthly plane. There have been many other dreams since but these particular dreams remain crystal clear to this day.
This, in turn, brings me to what prompted me to write this story in the first place.
My day began with a random news report about Australian women giving birth to a stillborn baby every four hours, an abnormal rate that has not declined in two decades. Unaware that stillbirths were so common in this day and age, I was naturally reminded of my mother’s experience all those years ago.
Later that same day, a social media post by evidential medium, spiritual educator and author Jock Brocas assured grieving parents that their child was ‘alive and well’ in the spirit world and that they would be reunited one day. Interpreting both messages as clear signals to write about my mother’s loss, I also felt her spirit draw close and a compelling sense of urgency to share her story to help others who are struggling to come to terms with their grief. My mother was a kind, compassionate, courageous woman who lived with immense, unresolved grief and trauma, but I know for sure that since her passing, she has received the healing she needed but was unable to ask for, during her earthly walk.
In closing, if it wasn’t for the life-changing event of losing my dad when I was 17, and the tumultuous journey that followed, I wouldn’t be where I am today, or advocating that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel when you know where to look. Experience has taught me that the secret to coming to terms with grief and embracing life again, lies in finding reliable, spiritually-minded professional support to help you through. Some people choose the option of being shut down by mind numbing drugs which may help in the short term but invariably lead to prescription drug addiction, self-imposed isolation, helplessness and even more health issues in the long run.
An experienced, evidential medium with counselling skills, or an experienced counselor that collaborates with a trusted medium to help clients navigate through the journey of grief, is a safe and comforting place to start.
Death will be a great relief. No more interviews. – Katherine Hepburn