Oct 26 2009

A story about my mother’s passing

Published by at 8:59 am under Ivan's Story,Poetry Chaikhana Misc.

I am back, but shaking off a tenacious case of the flu.

I’ve received so many kind-hearted, compassionate emails, blog comments, and posts on my Facebook page about my mother. I want to thank you all. I’ve been deeply touched.

…My mother died recently. I was able to spend some good time with her at her bedside. Her final week was difficult, and it was clear that, at that point, her passing was the right thing, a release from her discomfort. The complexities of American medical bureaucracy, added to some strange family politics didn’t give me much chance to grieve initially, but now that I’m settling into my normal life rhythms again the natural feelings of loss are coming forth. Even though most of my adult life I’ve lived at some distance from my mother, she has always been a close friend and source of inspiration. We shared the bond of a solitary child raised by a single mother, so her passing is certainly affecting me.

One thing that people often assume is that when a loved one dies, that the relationship is somehow over. Even people who have a belief in an afterlife tend to react this way, at least on an emotional level. My personal perspective is that the relationship continues; it just changes.

I’ll tell you a story about my mother’s death.

My mother died just past midnight, on Saturday, October 10. Much later that afternoon, my wife, Michele, and I went for a walk in the Bixby Knolls neighborhood of Long Beach, California, where my mother grew up. We were naturally exhausted, a little stunned, not talking much, just quietly walking side-by-side. It was not quite dusk.

Suddenly I stopped and grabbed Michele’s arm. She looked at me and I pointed to the sidewalk in front of us. There, slowly crossing the sidewalk just in front of us, was a huge, green scarab beetle! It was a shimmering, iridescent green, like a walking jewel, a truly beautiful creature. Now I grew up in southern California myself, and I’d never seen a scarab beetle before. I didn’t even know they lived in the region. But here one was, patiently walking across the sidewalk in front of us.

My mother had a deep love for the culture and spiritual traditions of ancient Egypt. Her trip to Egypt, to stand before the pyramids and stone temples, was one of the great moments of her life. Books of Egypt filled her shelves, Egyptian papyrus paintings hung upon her bedroom wall. And a crucial detail: Scarabs are an important symbol of ancient Egypt… often associated with eternal life and rebirth.

My wife and I glanced at each other wide eyed, and knelt to watch the scarab finish her trek across the sidewalk and finally disappear into the grass at the sidewalk’s edge.

You can choose to read that event how you wish, but it felt like a loving affirmation at a powerful moment.


Because I’m still shaking off this flu, I won’t be resuming work on the Poetry Chaikhana for another week. Check back next Monday.

Lots of love to you all!


54 responses so far

54 Responses to “A story about my mother’s passing”

  1. matton 26 Oct 2009 at 9:34 am


  2. Rosemarie Rowleyon 26 Oct 2009 at 9:45 am

    Ivan, first let me say how much you must be missing your mother and how beautifully you write of her passing. I am sure she is thinking of you away over there in the beyond, and in the hidden presence of today.

    Two things struck me, your story about the scarab brought to mind that the psychologist Carl Jung had written about seeing a scarab beetle, and how it inspired him in his theory of synchronicity, or how everything is meaningfully connected.

    I was also struck by your mothers interest in Egyptian culture – I have written a long poem “Flight into Reality” in terza rima (a three line form) based on Egyptian myth, and the modern search for meaning. It is available on the University of Toronto’s website, Representative Poetry Online (RPO) at

    Thinking of you and your wife, and your mother’s presence in your life – may it give your great blessings for the future


  3. Maryon 26 Oct 2009 at 9:57 am

    Bless you, Ivan. Losing a mom is hard and she knew it, so she sent you a magnificent sign!

  4. Tatianaon 26 Oct 2009 at 9:58 am

    What a beautiful story Ivan. Thanks for sharing it with us, and my best wishes for you and your family.

  5. tinekeon 26 Oct 2009 at 9:58 am

    Dear Ivan
    Thank you for sharing your life with us.
    And also a big thank you for the regular poetry, I am looking forward to read you again.
    I’ll keep you and your mother in my heart.

    Love and greetings
    from belgium

  6. Gary Harmonon 26 Oct 2009 at 10:04 am

    Ivan, My wife recently had a stroke, your site and selections have made a difference.
    – Gary

  7. Annaon 26 Oct 2009 at 10:16 am

    Dearest Ivan.

    You are loved beyond life and death–all the worlds that converge in this

    Relationships are a living thing. Really and truly.

    *Afterlife*, indeed.

    Much Love and Light,

  8. ingridon 26 Oct 2009 at 10:17 am

    thank you for sharing that beautiful story, and such an intimate detail from life. As Rumi said, “May you stay in your infinity.” Love and Peace, Ingrid

  9. Cynthia Lukason 26 Oct 2009 at 10:17 am

    Yes! I believe the Universe affirms and heals us at each and every moment–if we have the eyes to see and the ears to hear It, if we have the heart. Saints and poets–and I think right away of poets such as Mawlana Jaladdin Muhammad Rumi, about whom we have produced one PBS documentary and are working on a sequel–show us how to have those eyes and ears.

  10. laurenon 26 Oct 2009 at 10:20 am

    Dear Ivan,
    What a beautiful story you’ve shared. Thank you for all of the generosity with which you share your heart. You and your Mom are lucky to have had each other to share the journey,. Blessings, Lauren

  11. Al Krasson 26 Oct 2009 at 10:23 am

    Thank you, Ivan, for sharing that. I feel like we’re walking with you– and your wife and mother!

  12. Al Krasson 26 Oct 2009 at 10:24 am

    Thank you, Ivan, for sharing that. You make me feel that I’m walking with you– and your mother and your wife!

  13. maryann moonon 26 Oct 2009 at 10:47 am

    Your mother most certainly spent other lifetimes in Egypt
    and that’s why she had such an affinity for that extraordinary place The scarab beetle is an amazing way
    for your dear mother to speak to you from the other side!
    Most beautiful is the symbolism of scarab and eternal life and rebirth. You must surely know that she had a glorious welcome at her passing, angels and guides
    having been with her throughout her life!

    We are all feeling blessed by telling this story with us!
    Thank you, Ivan. love maryann moon

  14. Deborah Hammondon 26 Oct 2009 at 10:49 am

    Dear Ivan,
    And this is why it’s hard to be an atheist. I must at least accept mystery, yes? Thanks for sharing this very special experience. My own mother passed on August 28 and, like you, I was fortunate to be with her that week. The moment of her passing was transcendent for my sister and me as well. I continue to reach for the phone to call her even now. I noticed, too, since a very close friend died a few years ago, that she seems to be present to me very often. I’m so happy for you that your mother visited. May you find many more comforts and joys as you find your way through grief.

  15. Jacquie Ostromon 26 Oct 2009 at 11:16 am

    Your story is a beautiful reminder that the loving relationship continues, just changed.
    No love is ever lost.

  16. Yesikaon 26 Oct 2009 at 11:20 am

    Yes indeed the relationship continues….different manifestation but it always continues….beautiful!

  17. Tom McFerranon 26 Oct 2009 at 11:26 am

    Ivan, dear friend of my heart.

    The Scarab . . . I have a message for you.

    The jewel was, is and and always will be . . . your mother.

    . . . she walks with you, I can assure you dear friend, you will encounter her again.


  18. Silvine Farnellon 26 Oct 2009 at 11:40 am

    Just to say I have been thinking of you, Ivan–and am sure
    you’re right about the message that scarab beetle brought! We’re going to be out of town for two weeks, leaving this weekend–when I come back, it would be lovely to have a poetry revel evening–you will be all well, God willing, and maybe Michele can come . . .
    much love to you both,

  19. Tom McFerranon 26 Oct 2009 at 11:41 am


    Ivan, all.

    Very soon after my wife Pauline died I was in my back garden hanging
    clothes out on the wash line when directly out of the sky a black and gold butterfly landed
    upon my shoulder, not wishing to frighten it away I kept perfectly still with my
    my arms stretched out, one hand holding a pair of jeans and the other
    a clothes peg, the butterfly just sat there on my shoulder opening and closing its wings
    for four or five minutes then eventually it flew off back into the sky.

    It transpires I had become quite friendly with a young woman, Judy, who had lost her
    seven year old little girl Sophie to leukemia. Judy’s friend had called and asked her
    to go to see a clairvoyant with her. A few days later Judy phoned me saying
    that she had that morning visited a clairvoyant lady who said to her . . .

    “Judy, you have a friend, an older man with white hair who has recently lost his wife, (me), the next time you speak to him will you please give him the following message . . .

    “The butterfly that landed upon your shoulder when you were in your back garden
    was Pauline”.

    You must bear in mind that Judy had not told the lady about me, the lady did not know Pauline’s name nor did she know me.

    A short time later, I went to visit a clairvoyant myself , Billy Roberts, who said to me . . .

    “Your wife has recently died, she has left you a little heart covered on one side with tiny
    pink roses, where you will find it I do not know, but you will definitely find it.”

    Some weeks later I went to stay with my daughter and grandchildren who live in California, USA, where Pauline and I used to go every year. (I live in the UK.) One morning my daughter took me to a craft that Pauline often visited on previous years,

    On entering the shop, directly in front of me pinned to a wooden shelf was a little heart with one
    side covered with tiny pink roses, on the other side there was . . .

    . . .a butterfly.


  20. shellyon 26 Oct 2009 at 11:45 am

    dear ivan,
    your mother is proud of you, and is with you and all of us in your kind gestures of illuminating minds of so many of us through sharing poetry. and she just told you this in the form of the green scarab beetle. she is in peace and watching over…
    take care of yourself and your family

  21. katie roseon 26 Oct 2009 at 12:46 pm

    dear ivan,

    as i was reading about your timely green scarab encounter, i felt goose/God bumps all over. that’s my confirmation system….

    love in the One,

  22. marikeon 26 Oct 2009 at 12:55 pm

    dear Ivan,

    thank you for sharing the scarabee experience..

    here i quote someth that soothes me..

    ‘For the soul there is neither birth nor death at any time.
    He has not come into being, does not come into being, and will not come into being.
    He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing and primeval.
    He is not slain when the body is slain.’

    2.20 Bhagavad-gītā As It Is

  23. Kathleen Olsenon 26 Oct 2009 at 1:08 pm

    Reading your email today has reminded me what is known through the intellect can never replace that which is known in the body until the two have come together. I have studied mythology and psychology and literature but still do not embody that which can not be known until I experience it. You right now seem to be living the real thing…loss…I don’t know this particular loss yet but the intuitive part of me seems to say to take time…explore every sensation…and when you hold your work up to your heart and it says this is good for me…begin again!
    Much love & thanks for sharing this poetry with the world!
    Kathleen Adams Olsen

  24. Cindieon 26 Oct 2009 at 1:43 pm

    Thank you for your story. I send you and your family peace, light and love.

  25. isabelon 26 Oct 2009 at 1:47 pm

    Dear Ivan,
    It is lovely to have you e mailing again.You have been much in mind as has your dear mother. It sounds as though you have been truly blessed as she is.

  26. Jo Lightfooton 26 Oct 2009 at 1:53 pm

    You mother’s story has reached out to all of us–like the other poetry, quotes, stories, and inspiration you share.

  27. Rowenaon 26 Oct 2009 at 2:35 pm

    What a lovely story about the beetle….
    May grace suround you and love bring comfort.

  28. elion 26 Oct 2009 at 3:18 pm

    My friend died of a brain tumor. i was missing him one evening so terribly I cried very freely, there were so many tears. I asked for help out loud from my bed. Then all of a sudden I received a message. I felt very strongly that Steve, my friend was sitting on the edge of my bed with his hand on my forehead, I was having a vision!

    Steve said to me in his raspy voice that I have a tendency to hold tightly to things, events and that these things were all standing around him, half waving at me, other people and my past surrounded him. Weird maybe, but I was following what he was saying to me. He told me that if I really learned how to let those things go, I wouldn’t have to lose them and that there is a huge difference in those two things. Somehow, to figure out how to let go of them yet, have them, not to carry them, but see them come and go as needs see fit, to let things flow as life does! I was in awe of these words and still I felt that my grasp to so many “things” runs so deep that it will be a hard road to resist holding onto to these things out of fear! They deserve to take on their own paths and journey’s without my holding them from forever moving on.

    I rolled over in my bed, the vision faded and I grabbed my book that Im reading called ‘living with the devil’ The passage my book was open to said this (they refer the devil as Mara) “Mara stands for those patterns of behavior that long for the security of clinging to something real and permanent rather than facing the question posed by being a transient and contingent creature. “It makes no difference what you grasp,” said Buddha, “when someone grasps, Mara stands beside him.” Mara is that desperate longing for self and a world that are comprehensible, meaningful, and safe. Such clinging, however, tightens, one feels as though life itself is being stifled and snuffed out, Mara is sometimes called Namuci, the drought demon of Vedic Mythology, whose name means “one who withholds the waters.” The hold that Mara exerts blocks the flow of life just as Namuci’s grip prevents the monsoon from unleashing its waters.

    At this, I laughed out loud!!!! I saw it, the fear, and I asked for help, it arrived with a vengeance so that I could see clearly again. I have felt clearer ever since. The notions of life after life are out there. You have to just know where to look and when to listen…just like the beetle who crossed your path. Thank you for sharing you story. I am in awe always of the world and what we dont know…
    Warmest regards,

  29. sarahon 26 Oct 2009 at 3:58 pm

    many blessings to you Ivan. I am glad you have this as a support ntework for your life journey. Very powerful indeed with the scarab. I had a similar exp. this summer when my aunt died and a fox. Nature can be SO healing with out all the words. I hope you feel better and continue to rememeber and grieve the loss of your mother. blessings, SArah

  30. Warwickon 26 Oct 2009 at 4:04 pm

    You are a thrice blessed soul and your poetry reflects your openness to the universal muse in all its manifestations. The emerald scarab was indeed just such a visitation from the eternal omnipresent as you required in that moment. Always remember, you were created in love, love is the only way and as the blessed Dame Julian concluded at the end of her “shewings”, the only reason for anything that ever is or ever has been, is Love! Be thrice blessed my dear friend and may Love always be with you and your good lady wife.

  31. elizabeth Benson-Udomon 26 Oct 2009 at 4:31 pm

    thank you for this gorgeous story, setting, moment of accompaniment and witness. the scarab glinting green, the sun setting, the love beside you and surrounding you–so beautiful, dear ivan–thank you for sharing this gift through your words.

  32. Sonjaon 26 Oct 2009 at 4:53 pm

    Hi Ivan
    Thankyou for sharing your personal experiences.
    I believe the scarab is also associated with the sun, an entity that resonates with the inner self. Perhaps the scarab appeared out of that deep place that you and your mother shared.
    I also feel an affinity with ancient Egypt and express this in my work sculpting the gods. I use the ancient medium called Egyptian faience . Your story has aided in my attempt to reconnect with this work, so I thankyou for this also.
    The experience of our beloved ones appearing after death are profound and give us the reassurance of continued existence.
    Regards Sonja

  33. Shernazon 26 Oct 2009 at 6:56 pm

    Love, Peace and Light to you Ivan and all who visit this divinely blessed space. Thank you for sharing your blessings with us.

  34. Madathil Nairon 26 Oct 2009 at 9:45 pm

    Dear Ivan,

    I haven’t been reading mail regularly. I have, therefore, missed a lot and the news about your dear mother’s illness.

    I am very sorry, Ivan, about your bereavement and moved to tears reading about the scarab on the beach.

    You are right – death is not a full-stop. I would rather call it a change in status. Nobody comes, nobody goes if we can remove the corporeal body out. An American lady’s fascination for the Egyptian ruins is not just incidental. It is a message of our incorporeal continuity. Your mom is always with you, Ivan, blessing you. She has always been your mom, through all your births, if you want to put it that way.

    I opened your mail thinking that it was one of the usual poems you send. Your mail far excelled poetic beauty because it came deep from your heart and concerned your dear mother. No poetry or singing can match the sobs of the heart.

    My heart-felt condolences and prayers, Ivan. Please take care.


    Madathil Nair

  35. saimaon 26 Oct 2009 at 10:08 pm

    hey there Ivan,
    my mom passed away when i was seventeen and ever since i have struggled along with my family, emotionally. I have always found that whenever I call out to my mother as this is how we all human beings are attuned to the life, that whenever we are in trouble, the first thing we do is call the dearest of all; I find my mom always around me. no matter if im sick or anything, a little murmur under the breath helps. I have no idea how the entire thing works. but it does…

    and i am sure u will be fine for now she lives with u in ur heart forever!

    God bless you and may her soul rest in peace!

    in Jesus’ name, amen!

  36. Alexsandraon 26 Oct 2009 at 11:30 pm

    Thank you Ivan for sharing your experience.
    I hope the flu moves on and that you feel better very soon.
    Wishing you all the very best,

  37. Sunilon 26 Oct 2009 at 11:45 pm

    Dear Ivan,

    It was perhaps a sign shown to you to indicate that the time for your mother to cross over to the other side was coming and it was meant to prepare you for this beforehand.

    Peace to the departed’s soul and love to you and your wife in your hour of grief.

  38. nasiha manikon 27 Oct 2009 at 12:17 am

    hi Ivan,
    thank you for sharing.you are an inspiration.

    On leaving some Friends at an Early Hour by john keats

    GIVE me a golden pen, and let me lean
    On heap’d up flowers, in regions clear, and far;
    Bring me a tablet whiter than a star,
    Or hand of hymning angel, when ’tis seen
    The silver strings of heavenly harp atween:
    And let there glide by many a pearly car,
    Pink robes, and wavy hair, and diamond jar,
    And half discovered wings, and glances keen.
    The while let music wander round my ears,
    And as it reaches each delicious ending,
    Let me write down a line of glorious tone,
    And full of many wonders of the spheres:
    For what a height my spirit is contending!
    ’Tis not content so soon to be alone.

  39. Aristideson 27 Oct 2009 at 5:08 am

    Dear Ivan what a touching story… To grieve is human but, at the same time, the God in us can’t help but celebrate the samadhi/makam/restplace of our beloved ones. Ivan I ‘ve read your poem about Prometheus -what a masterful ending!- and since it has got a Greek theme, if you wish I could put it in the multi-lingual literary journal (Greek Letters) my father (retired professor of literature) publishes, in memory of your mother. Take care.

  40. DGon 27 Oct 2009 at 6:21 am

    Dear Ivan:

    I can only echo the beautiful and eloquent words of the rest of the Chaikhana family, but just to let you know that there is yet another person ” out there” who is deeply grateful for your intimate sharing of a wonderful and inspiring story.

    Blessings to you and your family and I KNOW your Mother is with you always – she is just a thought away.

  41. Mikeon 27 Oct 2009 at 7:30 am


    Your sharing about your mother’s passing reminds me that to the Awakened Heart, all movement is an action of love, even the movement of the smallest of creatures. May you always know the movement of love present in every moment.

    Regards, Mike

  42. Nita Mukherjeeon 27 Oct 2009 at 7:34 am

    Ivan, my heartfelt condolences to you; the loss of a mother leaves a void forever, but yes, a loved one never leaves us, and it means another person up there to intercede for us. The scarab was indeed a sign from her and you were very blessed to see it. As Tagore says, (this is a paraphrase, as i don’t remember the exact words) Death is not the blowing out of the candle, but extinguishing of the light because the dawn has come. May you find peace and experience your mother’s blessings at this time of grief.

  43. Marianneon 27 Oct 2009 at 8:01 am

    I am so sorry for your loss, I wish there were words to make the hurt go away. I will tell you that everytime you think of your mom the wind will blow and that will be her wrapping her arms around you.
    When you think of her a hear a chime that will be her talking to you.
    I too had a similar situation my dad was ill and I in charge of his last wishes. I had to make the decision to take him off the machines and all tho I knew it was what he wanted I struggled with it and wondered f I did the right thing. The day after he was buried I went to the house and in the garden by the front door was a white dove. odd as this may sound I asked the dove “dad is that you” and the dove bowed his head winked at me, let me take a picture of it and then flew away. I knew then my dad was at peace and I made the right choice.
    Know now that you will always have an angel by your side.

  44. Sunil Uniyalon 27 Oct 2009 at 8:16 am

    Dear Ivan, thank you for sharing these thoughts. I understandthat your mother was brave lady and her passing away has been a deep and profound loss to you. I’ve no doubt she continues to live in you, and will always be there by your side guiding you and blessing you. May her soul rest in Peace and may God ever bless you.

  45. Michael Youngon 27 Oct 2009 at 8:52 am

    Thanks for sharing your story of the scarab beetle after your mother’s passing. As a hospice chaplain, I often heard of the one who had recently passed, sending a sign or showing up in a dream to let their loved ones know they were all right.
    That assurance given, then they can go on. How do we know the signs of their presence? To paraphrase the Fox in the Little Prince, “What is real cannot be seen with the eyes. It must be seen with the heart.”
    You have been present to all of us from your heart.
    Your gift of poetry carries that so well.
    Now my we be present to you from our hearts.
    And may you find the grace and see the signs of the continued presence of your mother and the Divine Love.
    Blessings, Michael

  46. Vaivaon 27 Oct 2009 at 11:45 am

    dear Ivan,
    thank you for sharing with us your poetry … and your life…. I’m so touched about story of your mother’s passing…..
    Blessing for you and your family….

  47. Louise Traskon 27 Oct 2009 at 4:09 pm

    Thank you, Ivan, for telling us about your mother’s passing and relating the story about the beetle. When my mother died, my daughter Julia was particularly upset that she didn’t get the chance to say “good-bye”. At the funeral, Julia placed her teddy bear on my mother’s casket amidst the roses and lilies. A yellow buttterfly flew down from the sky and landed on the teddy bear, resting there for several minutes. It was a blessing and a benediction from my mother. Almost a year later, I was leaving for a trip, carrying my blanket and pillow to the car. Earlier that day, a friend had asked if I ever felt my mother’s presence or recieved a message from her. I said that no, I guessed she had moved on. As i put my blanket and pillow into the car, a small object fell out of the blanket. It was a golden circle with my mother’s initials on it. I had never seen it before. Ivan, we know so little of the other worlds, of the depth and breadth of love. we do know a little of the power of love. You can see from the messages here what the power of your love does. Thank you. I look forward every day to your poems and postings–your love has sustained me many a time. I hope that I have returned a little of that. Love, Louise

  48. mohsin bilalon 27 Oct 2009 at 9:00 pm

    dear Ivan,
    when i lost my father before a decade. i was so upset because that time i awas a chlid but i feel he is alive in my heart. you shoud have because you are a lovely person. may allah give your peace.

  49. Joeon 28 Oct 2009 at 7:46 am

    Dear Michele&Ivan,

    Thank you for sharing your story.
    With Loving Kindness and Compasionate Wisdom you bless this world.
    Love, Joe

  50. Yewtreeon 30 Oct 2009 at 2:24 am

    Dear Ivan, sorry for your loss, but glad that you feel that your relationship with your mother will continue – and what a lovely experience with the scarab beetle.

  51. Kara Sorensenon 30 Oct 2009 at 1:48 pm


    Thank you for sharing about such a precious time in your life.

    I too know the relationship goes on, as I still feel close to my Dad and he passed away 7 years ago. We just have a different relationship now.

    And, while I haven’t had the experience like yours with the beetle, a member of my family certainly did. These are awe inspiring moments…what a gift!

    All the Best,


  52. Alexon 02 Nov 2009 at 12:45 pm

    Dear Ivan-
    May there be peace in your heart.

  53. Maryon 12 Nov 2009 at 4:47 pm

    The Mysteries of Life… what a beautiful story. Peace to you and your mother on this new phase of your journey.

  54. Dianeon 16 Jul 2011 at 8:06 am

    Hello Ivan,

    I lost my mother last Monday with little warning. I feel as though I have been gutted. Her funeral was yesterday and, at the very last minute as I was walking away from her casket before it was to be lowered, a green scarab appeared and flew in circles around her casket! I live in Los Angeles and had only seen one of these maybe once before. My son noticed it and was surprised as well. He and I were the two closest people to her. I am not a supersticious person but I couldn’t help but feel that this was some kind of sign either from her or from above, that she would have everlasting life.

    I googled the word scarab and your site was one of many that came up. I was very heartened to read of your similar experience. Thank you for sharing this and my condolences on the loss of your mother.

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