The evening Amanda died, as I sat quietly by the fire, I felt her come to say goodbye. She was full of joy. A couple of nights before I had seen, in my mind’s eye, folds of beautiful, billowing, white silky satin. If felt as if Amanda was being lifted up by the angels.
Amanda knew the territory of spiritual emergency. Even in her passing she embodied it to the full, passing over at the time of year, Easter, when death and rebirth are at their most potent. She was one of the founding members of the UK Spiritual Crisis Network (SCN) and a cornerstone of the local Stroud group. Many of our meetings took place at her home.
She was always totally supportive of my work with the SCN. As a psychotherapist who had done a lot of group work, her perception and awareness of group dynamics were invaluable to me in the early days of setting the Network up.
It was Amanda and I who sat down around her dining table and wrote to various residential facilities who offer some, albeit limited, support for those going through spiritual emergency, asking whether we could include their details on the SCN website. The list mostly came from when Amanda was in crisis and she and her daughter had scoured the country for somewhere suitable that would be able to hold and support her through it. To this day there is hardly anywhere that can offer both the spiritual sanctuary and the level of intensive 24 hour care that someone in full-blown spiritual crisis so desperately needs.
I remember also the powerful ritual we did up in the woods when I needed help processing and moving on from a period of crisis. Amanda and the other Stroud SCN stalwarts did me proud that day. Then there were the times when I would lead us both through a much-needed mindfulness body scan; I would lie on a rug in front of her stove, with Amanda stretched out on the sofa and Rumi the cat joining in too.
She was unable to make it to the small gathering of close friends to celebrate the publication of my latest book. But the next day I found a huge bouquet of pink and cream roses on my doorstep. Her support of, and for, my work was total and unfailing. I can’t think of anybody else who I feel that level of unequivocal support from. She was an unspoken mentor.
Amanda and I shared an unusually symbiotic relationship. Our family backgrounds are very similar. Growing up with the same kind of wounds, we understood where the other had come from. It seemed we were in crisis at the same time more than once. Who knows whether we were both sensitive to the same planetary energies or picking up on each other in some way.
We held a deep respect for each other, for the places we had travelled to, for the gifts we brought back from those treacherous journeys.
Amanda’s death comes at a time of new birth, when we’re just launching the new Alliance for Revisioning Mental Health. I know she would have been proud of the impact we’re going to have on the mental health field. I’ll miss her support and her wisdom. She was no ordinary friend. She was a fellow traveller.
Amanda died, of lung failure, at a time when she was happy and fulfilled in her life. I saw her two weeks before, before her final illness, and it was lovely to see how happy she was; perhaps a perfect time to take one’s leave.
Amanda was a fighter and a survivor. She fought and won the battles that needed to be won, with her inner demons. Now, those battles won, she has been free to let go gracefully. Her work is done.