Solitary: A Self-Directed Spiritual Life

Let's talk. Come sit with me under a tree or by a lake while we chat about being alone in our practice and our beliefs. Solitary practitioners choose this path for many reasons and have a unique perspective. As a solitary witch, I want to share how I keep true to my beliefs and practices whether I'm working on my own, in a small group or attending a large group gathering. Author of Moon Affirmations, meditations based on the phase of the moon.

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Letting Go

Winter is upon us – in the northern hemisphere.  Harvest is done (hopefully). Nature is shutting down to rest and rejuvenate.  It’s a time when I look within to see what needs to go, what I need to let go.

This year is difficult for me as my mother is experiencing some health issues.  Now I’m the youngest of six and we all have strong opinions.  We don’t ever agree – or rarely.  But then there’s mom.  Mom is 86.  She’s feisty, sassy, stubborn, and frail in some ways (though don’t call her that or you’ll get an earful).  

My mother has always had a heart murmur.  In the last year, it was discovered one of her heart valves wasn’t functioning properly.  They put in stints a year ago.  This year the doctor wanted to do a heart valve replacement.  We as a family talked about it when she had the stints put in.  Mom decided (because she’s still on the ball) not to do anything.  

I wasn’t at the appointment but recently she decided to have the valve replacement.  She made it through the procedure and seemed to be fine.  Unfortunately, eighteen days after her procedure she ended up in the ER with a bunch of symptoms.  After a lot back and forth, it was discovered her heart valve was infected.  

Decisions had to be made.  Discussions no one wants to have were had.  Mom has a do not resuscitate order, power of attorney for both health and finances, a will, and a number of other things in place.  Legally I think we’re covered.  But the conversation had to be had – How much do we do?  She’s 86.  My mother went from active to frail and weak.  

The doctors wanted to do a test which she would have to go under anesthesia.  The first time they asked, mom was not coherent enough to make the decision.  My sister was staying with her and put out a text.  We all had the discussion.  The fear – going under anesthesia would be detrimental to her.  After many questions and discussion, all six of us decided not to allow them to do the test.  

They asked a second and third time.  Both times we stuck with our answer.  However, the second time we had to be more careful because mom was awake enough the doctors could have persuaded her to a different answer.  I explained to her what they wanted to do.  Her face told me her response but I asked her what she wanted to do.  She said she wanted to think about it.  This is mom’s code for I don’t understand or I don’t want to.  I let her think.  The nurse came in and we were talking about it.  I asked her again.  Mom’s response – I want my family to decide.  

This was a huge sigh of relief moment for me.  She’s in a vulnerable place, physically and mentally.  My job – and my siblings – is to protect her and speak for her when she can’t.  Mom is hard of hearing so when the doctors speak to her she doesn’t hear them clearly or understand what they are saying.  

We have all come to the conclusion that we may need to let our mother go.  We have to let go of how she was and accept the condition she’s currently in.  This doesn’t mean we are accepting the status quo or refusing treatment.  We are all hoping she recovers.  At the same time, we are preparing for the possibility she won’t recover.  

Letting go is hard.  It’s not easy.  It sounds easy but it isn’t.  I know I’m struggling with accepting things as they are.  Yet I also know my mother voiced strong opinions about not wanting to be kept alive.  For this winter, I hope I don’t have to let go but at the same time I’m preparing to let go.  It might be time.

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As a solitary, I consider myself a pagan witch who is seeking. Residing in rural Wisconsin, by day I work as a clerical worker and at night I spend my spare time writing. Writing is my way of expressing my feelings about my world and life. Raised on a farm, I have a love for nature and am inspired by the beauty and power I find there. I've been married for 33 years and have three adult daughters. Some of my other interests include cooking, genealogy, reading and crocheting.  
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  • Angela
    Angela Friday, 01 December 2017

    I want you to know that I understand with all my heart and soul what you are going through. Last year, at this time, my sister and I were with Mom after she fell and broke her shoulder and, we found out later, her pelvis. That was the beginning of the end for her. The family spent all of last Christmas with Mom in various hospitals. My sister and I discussed what those very issues you bring up. My brother excused himself from all of it, saying that he didn't want to be involved.

    In the end, we were all there for Mom when the DNR was enacted. The staff at the hospital treated all of us, and most especially Mom, with care and concern and kindness. It was the single most difficult experience I've ever had to sit through, holding hands with her and my sister through those final hours. Our first holiday season without Mom and her decorating and high temper has come upon us and I'm....dealing.

    Just be present with your mom. Talk with her, even if it seems that she may not be coherent enough for conversation. Listen to her. If she mentions seeing loved ones who have previously passed, pay attention. Those are the ones who have come to help her when you and your family no longer can. Be with your family. Forgive your mom, and yourself, and let this be a washing of any old arguments. Remember love and laughter. Hearing is the last thing to fade, so share stories of good times so when your mom does take her next step away, it will be with a warm and loving spirit.

    With many hugs and tears and wishes for strength...

  • Eileen Troemel
    Eileen Troemel Sunday, 03 December 2017

    Thank you. Mom is in a nursing home in the city most of my family lives. We are each taking a little time to go visit her (at least the local ones). I'm dealing with a lot of anger over the things the hospital / ER / doctors did to her. However, my main focus is seeing to it mom has the care she needs to recover - if that is in the cards. Too often, I find myself stressed and coping with all the details of what is going on. From things like - she only had one nightgown to conference with the nursing home to keep updated on her care. This nursing home is one of the better ones. It's a relief to have her there and not at one of the other ones. Your words warm my heart. Thank you for the support and kindness!

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