Forgiveness Beyond Death, Lisa Raphael

Forgiveness Beyond Death
by Lisa Raphael

Forgiveness has been shown to improve physical and emotional health as well as to heal rifts between individuals, social groups and nations. But is the power of forgiveness limited to this lifetime? Can there be forgiveness beyond death?
My mother was the most guilt-ridden person I have known. She could feel guilty about bad weather, international tragedies, or a cake that did not turn out right. I did everything I could during her lifetime to make her happy. Therapy helped relieve my guilt about not being able to relieve her guilt, but it did not help my mother. “If you’re going to feel guilty, at least enjoy it!’’ I would say, resigned to her incessant apologies.
Twelve years after her death, an opportunity presented itself to release my mother from her guilt.
It began with a sudden craving for baby food. Out of the blue, I found myself compulsively stuffing my belly, exercising vigorously to get rid of extra pounds, and feeling irrationally angry with my female friends. As soon as I recognized that this was “mother stuff,” I made an appointment with a healer. On my way to the appointment I found a strange envelope in my mailbox. Inside was a small black book. The book was an account of my birth and first months of life, carefully recorded in my mother’s handwriting more than sixty-five years ago. During the healing session, my mother communicated that she needed my forgiveness for her secret attempts to abort me throughout pregnancy by eating special herbs and vigorous exercise. Because of the social and political circumstances at that time, she explained, she did not know how she could care for another child. Even though she was dead, it appeared her shame and guilt were blocking her spiritual progress.
Her attempt to abort me was new information; for the first time my mother was seeking forgiveness for something I had not known. My forgiveness was freely given. I had also long since forgiven her for other events remembered since her death – the childhood sexual abuse and the failure of my mother to protect me, and her desperate attempt to kill me and my brother during the Nazi occupation.
I was born to a Viennese family of Jewish origin in the shadow of Nazi genocide. Hitler was in power in neighboring Germany, and everyone who could tried to escape. I was three when Hitler marched into Austria, and my mother was taking care of three small children and my grandmother. For eight months we did not know whether we would survive. Our escape was miraculous, but surviving the Holocaust required my mother to not only leave her country, culture and friends, but also abandon my grandmother to an uncertain future. Guilt virtually ruled her emotional life.
When she was alive my mother was a confirmed atheist. “No God would allow the Holocaust,” she proclaimed. And my mother certainly did not believe in the possibility of life after death. A few days after her memorial service, a phone call startled me out of deep sleep. “But you’re dead!” I said when I heard her voice on the other end. “That is what they are trying to tell me” she replied. I do not think I was dreaming. It appeared that my mother was still denying the possibility of life beyond death.
I am in awe of the power of my mother’s spirit to manifest through physical and emotional symptoms, the mysterious appearance of the baby book, and telepathic communication in order to release her spirit from the guilt that had plagued her life. Her gift has freed both of us to continue our soul’s journey in peace.
Truly, the power of forgiveness is beyond death.
Lisa Raphael

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