Letting Go

Earlier this year, my eldest child, in her twenties, phoned from her all-girls flat to tell me she wanted to get married to the young man she had been getting to know. I hadn’t expected her to make that decision so soon.

October 8, 2023

Not long after that, my younger daughter phoned home from university, very excited she had been accepted for a work placement abroad.  Meanwhile, my friend was at her home, quietly caring for her increasingly ill spouse.

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And so in the last few months, my daughter’s husband became the centre of her world. My younger daughter has begun her placement year many thousands of miles away from home. And last week, the funeral prayers and burial of my friend’s spouse was attended by their close family and many of us well-wishers.

In the book Muslims turn to for guidance, the Qur’an, God reminds us of the story of Moses’s mother. Muslims believe God told her to place Moses in a basket and put him in the river. He was just a baby, but in the face of imminent danger from the Pharoah, she had to let him go. God says in the Qur’an, addressing her directly: “Do not be afraid, and do not grieve”  

Letting go of people we love is so hard. Yet the mother of Moses understood she was letting go to protect her son. I’ve come to appreciate that if I truly love a person, I must want what is best for them. I want them to flourish, and sometimes the best way for them to flourish is if they are no longer with me.

So as a community, we helped my friend let go of her husband, comforted by the thought he was no longer in pain. We made supplications for a better life to come for his soul. I let go of my younger daughter – after giving loads of last-minute advice – as she embarked on an unfamiliar chapter of full-time work, living in quite a different culture. And I let go of my older daughter too, reassured by the knowledge she was starting a new and positive journey of discovery. I have let go – albeit with bitter-sweet emotions – and it is a sign of love.