This is a difficult, confronting and deeply emotional story about death that must be told. Rest assured it has a comforting ending and I hope it finds its way to anyone who is struggling to come to terms with their grief – particularly mothers of stillborn babies.
I grew up knowing that that my late mother Maja gave birth to a stillborn baby girl in the early 1960s. It wasn’t until the mid-1990s that she spoke at length about her traumatic, at times horrific, ordeal.
Maja emigrated to Australia from the ‘Iron Curtain’ Baltic State of Estonia in the late 1940s. She eventually settled in Adelaide, South Australia where 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.
When they were ready to start a family, my mother miscarried before carrying her first child to full term. She recalled being heavily pregnant and feeling overdue. Doctors at Rose Park Hospital told her otherwise. Her intuition urged her to request that her baby be induced but her plea was ignored.
By the time my mother was what she believed to be at least ten days overdue, she knew that something was terribly wrong and demanded to be induced immediately. This time, the doctors didn’t argue. Tragically, her beautiful baby girl was stillborn.
After the birth, my mother’s daughter was wrapped in a cloth and whisked away by a nurse. None of the staff knew what to say to her. Nor did her shocked, grieving husband.
She described how a group of doctors milled nervously near her bed, whispering in hushed tones. They all had worried looks on their faces and nobody could look at her, let alone talk to her.
Now deeply traumatized, my mother asked them to bring her baby back but nobody acknowledged her. She needed to hold her child, to say goodbye. Sadly, the hospital staff clearly had no knowledge of how to deal with death in a caring, compassionate manner. Fed up with being ignored and treated like a third-rate immigrant, she yelled at them to bring her baby back.
Thankfully, her baby daughter was returned and she held her close until she was ready to let her go.
The final part of this story still haunts me. My father took my mother home from hospital and they never heard a single word about their daughter again. And they were deprived of the opportunity to give their child a funeral. Instead, stillborn babies were secretly buried by hospital authorities and the stillbirth incidents 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 shocking, infuriating story, I sat at my typewriter and thrashed it 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 it, looked at me and didn’t utter a word. I left him with it and an article appeared a few days 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 proved too overwhelming and she shut herself down again. I respected her feelings and left it at that. It felt inappropriate to act on my mother’s behalf and I didn’t dare suggest it.
My mother died suddenly in September 2006. Her health had been failing on all levels 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 it would be the last words 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 - 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 her death.
On the morning of my mother’s 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. He said my mother was sitting in our lounge-room wearing her wedding dress and reading a passage from Lord Is My Shepherd. He also said she pointed to the verse that says, ‘I have no ills.’ Surprised that she had come to visit us soon after her passing, I felt a loving wave of relief sweep over me.
Interestingly, the stressful days leading up to her funeral, my brother, sister and I met the pastor at our mother’s house and he read Lord is My Shepherd to us. I chose not to mention the earlier incident with my mother to him because most religious teachings tend to discredit or frown upon the reality of mediumship and direct contact with the otherside.
During the pastor’s introduction at my mother's funeral service, my partner discreetly nudged me and pointed to an empty chair against the wall near the lectern. He whispered that my mother was sitting there listening and seemed quite pleased with the proceedings.
When the pastor sat down, he whispered, “Linda, the pastor just sat on your mum’s lap.” I started to laugh but swiftly composed myself. It was a funeral after all.
The lonely and challenging grieving process that followed the sudden death of my father in 1980 was a far cry from the experience that unfolded with my mother. She ‘moved in’ with us at our seaside home for several weeks after her funeral and many wondrous things occurred during her stay which made my grieving process so much easier.
Three significant moments with my 'dearly departed' mother will stay with me forever. I hope that sharing them will give readers a sense of hope and comfort that I desperately sought, but never found, in the dark weeks and months that followed my father’s death.
The 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 profoundly memorable experiences of my life.
For the next two hours, my partner relayed deeply personal, at times confronting questions and emotive anecdotes directly from my mother. I had never shared our old grievances with my partner because they didn’t seem relevant and proceeded to respond to my mother as though she was physically sitting at the table with us.
Immersed in an intense melting pot of truth, misconceptions, anger, honesty and love, my mother and I proceeded to resolve our many earthly differences through my partner’s highly attuned link to her vibration in spirit. We unearthed difficult, painful, at times infuriating issues that had been previously shrouded in toxic silence, creating an ever-widening rift until my mother’s death.
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 authentic medium able to facilitate such a sitting.
The internet will have you believe that everyone is a highly attuned medium which is why discernment is vital when seeking out mediumship services. All the more reason to make our peace with loved ones while they are still with us.
Toward the end of what I can only describe as a crystal clear, three-way-conversation spanning two dimensions and a myriad of emotions, a peaceful calm descended upon us. My mother ended the ‘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, joy and gratitude for the profound healing both my mother and I experienced that day.
My partner was as blown away by the marathon sitting as I was and revealed that it was rare to maintain a consistently strong connection to a spirit energy for such a long period of time. My gratitude for his extraordinary gift and vast amount of energy involved in facilitating the vital meeting with my mother, was immeasurable.
The second significant event occurred when my partner excitedly called out to me from garden shed. When I poked my head inside, I saw 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 swinging from the rafter. We both stood there looking at the light and laughing. I remained brightly lit for quite some time and just as I decided to grab my camera to capture evidence of this freak event, the light flickered out.
I had read that loved ones in spirit can manipulate electricity to gain our attention. Given that my late father was a wildly humorous, electrical engineer in his earthly life, the case of the mysterious, unplugged light made perfect sense.
The third significant event unfolded early one evening when we were relaxing in the lounge room. My partner looked past me, focused on the nearby patio glass door.
“Linda,” he said. “Your mother is here. She’s holding hands with a beautiful young girl.”
I felt my spirit shift.
“That must be the daughter she lost in the sixties,’ I replied. “My sister.”
He described the little girl as angelic with shoulder length blonde hair and wearing a beautiful white dress. She was seven or eight years old.
“She is very shy,” he continued, “and your mother is gently coaxing her to move toward you. Here she comes now. She is standing in front of you and has just put her hand on your arm. She is saying hello to you.”
I said hello back to my little sister, in awe of the deeply moving moment. We spent some time together in silence and then they left. Knowing that my mother was reunited with the child she lost all those years ago, helped me release the grief that I carried for many years after my mother shared her traumatic story.
The healing power of spirit is something that needs to be experienced first hand to truly understand - with or without religious beliefs. I had believed in life after death for a couple of decades thanks to insights from my father who began visiting me in my dreams about nine years after his death.
I clearly recall him appearing in front of me in an ethereal environment and extending his hand. I physically felt his hand when I held it and said, “Dad, you’re not dead, are you?” To which he replied: “Linda, there is no death.”
Which 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. I was immediately reminded of my mother’s experience.
Later that same day, a social media post by evidential medium, spirit interventionist and author Jock Brocas assured grieving parents that their child was ‘alive and well in the spirit world’ and that they will be reunited one day.
I interpreted both messages as signals to write this story about my mother’s loss. Having personally drawn great strength and hope from true stories about overcoming adversity, I hope my story provides some comfort for others who are struggling to come to terms with their grief.
In closing, I would like to add that my search for answers began when I was 17, on the day my father suddenly died - the day my impossible grief set in. If it wasn’t for that life-changing event 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 healing from grief and embracing life again lies in finding spiritually-minded professional support to help you confront, emerge and heal rather than be hindered by hopelessness or shut down with long-term life-numbing drugs.
An experienced, evidential medium with counseling skills, or a counsellor that collaborates with a trusted medium to help clients navigate through the emotionally tumultuous journey that follows the death of a loved one, is a safe and effective place to start.