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Frank"s First Jung-Society Article about Maeve's Death

Frank's quarterly letter to members as President of C. G. Jung Society of Queensland in January 2004.

The underworld of Hades was never further from my mind than it was in the minutes and hours prior to the death of my daughter on 22 November last.

Maeve (10) and I had been on an overnight cycling and camping trip, just the two of us, on the sunshine coast.

Maeve was never more full of the joys of life than she had been on that trip.

Like Persephone, she spent the trip metaphorically collecting the beautiful flowers of spring, the fruits of the earth. She had climbed trees, splashed in the waves at the beach and danced merrily in the spray of the campsite sprinkler. I, as Demeter, enjoyed the vision and experience of my beautiful daughter happy in herself and growing towards the fullness of a life that, despite inevitable hardships, would surely yield richness and rewards.

In an instant, as I repaired a bicycle puncture at a seemingly safe place, she crossed the road and then back into the path of traffic. She was killed immediately. The earth had opened up in that moment. Hades reached out and took her to his underworld. I wailed as Demeter must have. In my heart, I wail still.

Yet, through that terrible event and since, the comfort of experiencing life, and now death, through symbolism has been tremendous for both my partner, Robyn, and myself. Maeve’s death has been surrounded by symbolic events that suggest a certain rightness, a certain timeliness to her death. I count these as great gifts from the Unconscious, from the divine source of our existence.

I will mention two.

The first is the dream that Maeve related to Robyn on the morning Maeve and I left home for that final trip. Robyn wrote down Maeve’s dream as she told it.

In the dream, Maeve describes being at a railway station with us, her family, and with a “bulgy old lady”. She lives in a castle that she can collapse into a suitcase and take with her when she travels. The lady packs the castle away.

Maeve told Robyn: “Mom, there are two trains. You, Dad and (sister) Tara are going on one train to London to visit the Queen. There is another train, starting from the other side of a fence, underwater. I am going on that train. I am going home.”

Dreams often obscure their messages. But sometimes the message is direct. Both Robyn and I took great comfort from this as a direct indication that her death fits into a greater plan.

In the dream too, Tara is older than Maeve, although in life, Tara is younger. The only way Tara could grow older is through Maeve’s death. Thus, Maeve will never grow past 10 years while Tara should continue to grow to eventually become older.

The second symbolic event occurred moments before her death. As I roughened the tube and applied the glue, Maeve bounced around happily on the grass margin beneath a shady tree where we had stopped. In her joking, Gemini manner, she drew my attention to an unusual occurrence. A bungie cord had gotten stuck. One end had caught onto a heavy pannier lying on the grass beside the bike. The other end had inexplicably gotten caught in the back of the waistband of her shorts. She mimed moving towards the road and being pulled back by the elasticity of the bungie cord. I saw the joke and we enjoyed it together. But the parent in me was only too aware of the real danger. I said: “Yes, Maeve, you know what that is. That is a message to you to stay away from the traffic.” I turned to inspect the tube. Within the space of a couple of breaths, she had crossed the road (probably caught up in a happy flight of imagination) and back into the traffic to meet her death.

How strange that the unusual bungie cord incident should have happened then? I read it as another clear message, this one saying that I should feel no blame about her death. The bungie cord incident had steered me to warn her of the danger. The very incident itself had given her the message. In fact, she herself drew my attention to it. It was as if the universe had given me the opportunity to offer protection and at the same time had said: “You have done as much as you could, in the circumstances, to protect her. You should feel no blame. It was her time to die.”

Many other events, synchronistic and otherwise, have supported us through our pain. For one, we were recently reminded in this newsletter of Jung’s conclusion that consciousness continues after death, as there were no indications otherwise in the dreams of those about to die. Maeve’s dream of a journey home agrees with his conclusion.

The myth of Persephone is usually taken to mean a psychological death through her removal to the underworld. In the myth, her mother manages to make a deal that allows Persephone to return to the upper world for some months of the year. In our case, no deal with Hades can ever be made, even with the intervention of Zeus, to bring Maeve back as she was physically, even for a day. However, I suspect that, in time she will return to us in the way we integrate her life and death into our psyches through the grieving process. A family friend wrote to us of grieving the death of her son for five years or so before coming to some new relationship with him or with his spirit, one that has brought new meaning and value into her world. Robyn and I have already embarked on the journeys that will hopefully take us to such a place in the course of time.

I would like to mention that Robyn, Tara and I are mostly glad of opportunities to talk about Maeve’s death and our ongoing journeys. Robyn and I wish to thank the committee and members of the Society who have sent us many wonderful messages and gifts to support us.

January 2004

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