Mourning my mother through anime

I am familiar with loss in my family, so it’s unsurprising that I can find so much empathy with Ciel’s attitude towards it. Too early in his life, death became its guiding principle – he treats it as such. He harnesses the force of his grief to provide his forward momentum, imagining his every act being a step towards avenging his parents, finding who killed them. That same necessity, not in vengeance but leading my life in a way that would make my mum proud, is also what keeps me steady. We are not demons. We’ve simply learned to coexist with the other side.

ancient magus bride chise alone.gif

Chise’s light in the darkness

It’s been a comfort to regard this closeness to the other world as a power. It will take some getting used to, but the more I accept and learn to admire it in myself, the stronger I’ll be. The Ancient Magus’ Bride’s Chise lives with the horror and majesty of the spirit realm without the benefit of loved ones to anchor her to the mortal plane. The bright phoenix of love and compassion she becomes when she finds the one who accepts her, the magus Elias, shines out the truth that leaning on his care is part of finding balance in her life as it’s come to be. She learns to release weary souls through peaceful passing, letting all her pain go through another being who needs her magic. But this won’t always be enough. She drains her restricted life force in pouring her love away in full flow. She must eventually own her losses and work to become independent. Otherwise, she will become chronically dependent on the ones who advise and keep her.

More than being strong for myself, I have a responsibility to resist giving into despair, in part for the sake of my daughter. In some ways, that prospect is more fearful than death. Without her grandmother, I must be a brighter light. Like Chise, I still rely on the affirmation of love from others. A certain comfortable fear in the weight of inner darkness, eased by companionship, dampens our power. Greater than the fear of losing one person I’ve loved, is its after-shadow of fearing being left alone. But anime is awash with series about friends being young, vulnerable and silly, and walking each other through it with the pleasant distractions of everyday worlds of adventure.

Continues on next page…

11 Comments on Mourning my mother through anime

  1. I just wan to say that I really loved this post, and thought it was very beautifully written. It’s one of those that just simply leaves you kind of at a loss for words, which in this case I really mean as a very high compliment😊


    • Elisabeth O'Neill // January 30, 2018 at 7:41 pm // Reply

      Thank you so much! Emotionally it was pretty tough to write, so it means a lot that you and others think it’s beautiful.


  2. Thank you for sharing—death and loss have come into my life lately, and I continue to process these ideas. Like you, I’ve thought about anime (I wrote a piece recently—not yet posted—about Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 that helped me think things out). I hope the best for you as you continue to cope with the loss and learn to live this new life that’s so altered. And thank you, again, for sharing (and for giving me a new perspective, too, on Princess Mononoke—one of my favorite films).


    • Elisabeth O'Neill // January 30, 2018 at 7:40 pm // Reply

      I’m so glad this piece reached you when you’re going through the same struggle. I hope there was a bit of comfort in it for you, and that you’re coping okay. Mononoke is one of those works you go back to every so often and see something brand new in its meaning, and just reflecting on it brought that new meaning to mind. Happy to have passed it on to someone who loves the movie like I do 😊


  3. This is genuinely really beautiful, thanks for posting it.


  4. I’m going to sound like an echo, but this was a beautifully moving post.


  5. Usually I take a while and put down a comment if I can add something (I get trapped in my own head that way), but this time I am literally left speechless. This was a really touching, moving and great post and it brought a few tears to my eye. I’ll echo the others. I can’t add anything more.


    • Elisabeth O'Neill // January 30, 2018 at 7:32 pm // Reply

      Knowing you felt something from it is enough, thank you. Just having it reach someone makes a piece like this worth writing.


  6. Incredible meditation on the loss of your mother and what it could all mean, and it really in a page… taught me something. Thank-you.

    Your mother raised someone really special here. You…


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