by Robert Wilkinson
If you were here this time last year, you know that January 9 is perhaps the most sacred day of my year. This is the day each year I dedicate to the memory of one who was closer to me than my own breath, the heart of my heart. This was the day 19 years ago that my life turned upside down, changing me forever. I was thrown into a journey difficult beyond description, with no guarantee that I would ever find release and relief from the overwhelming grief thrust upon me by a circumstance truly beyond my control, or anyone else's, for that matter. If you're ready to go deeper, read on.
The death of a loved one is always difficult on those left behind; we grapple with feelings, thoughts, words that seem futile or even meaningless after the death of one close to us. Though we are still connected eternally, we grieve the loss of sense contact, the ability to touch, hear, see our loved one. We grieve the loss of the physical and emotional connection, though eventually we all pass into the beyond of existence to rejoin those who passed on before us, as well as loved ones we didn't even know existed while we lived in our bodies on this Earth.
Though the stinging acid of my sorrow has abated over the years, the death impacted me profoundly. For many months after the death I was overwhelmed and drowning in feelings too out-of-control to imagine that would come over me unexpectedly, again reminding me that I was shipwrecked in hell. Even if a lifesaver in whatever form keeps you afloat, you still wind up soaked to the bone by a storm that makes you wonder if you want to live at all.
There are many who give up the struggle and choose to die, whether slowly or quickly, by a variety of means. I have known those who gave up on life, as well as those who chose to do the harder thing, grieving as honestly as they were able, in hopes of coming to some peace after living on desolation row. Grief is not an easy thing, but ignoring grief only leads to more wreckage when the ego controls break down, which they always do. And of course grief work involves more than just feeling badly - it is the quest to find meaning, purpose, and life after the wreckage of whatever you thought or felt before, during, and after the death.
The price of love is grief; where there is love, one must die first, and the other is left to grieve. Denying grief is a fool's game and dishonors the love you share on an eternal level. No one is beyond feeling the loss of a loved one, even if death is a release from disease or debility for the departed one. I have known supposedly "spiritual" people who insist we should not feel sorrow at the death of a loved one. I tried that a long time ago, taking refuge in my "spirituality." Let me assure you it doesn't work, and even if one succeeds in denying or stuffing or avoiding grief, we are lesser beings for our efforts.
Death is the great leveler, and until we are fully realized we will deal with confronting our own mortality, and the deep feelings that accompany our inherent knowing that our bodies, feelings, ideas, and perceptions are impermanent. While we are here on Earth, we must learn how to feel all there is, so that by transmuting our responses we are able to walk in this world of sorrows, breaking the link between pain and suffering whenever we are able while witnessing the glorious impermanence of our human condition. Death helps us remember the eternal state of things, and offers us moments to pause and reflect on all the love we've known, and all the love there is.
We are taught by some contemporary schools of psychology that once we move through an experience we come to some form of lasting resolution about that experience. In my experience that isn't necessarily so. I have come to view it all more as a journey with some strange twists, surprises, plunges and revelations, with new realizations and resolve found at every turn of the wheel. Simply put, we never come to finality around death, but are always learning about life and living as we deal with the death of our loved ones.
I have come to value the rituals around remembrance, and honor the anniversaries connected to my departed loved one. Her birth and death are meaningful points in my experience, where the wave forms of grief reappear, each year in slightly different forms, showing me what I've learned and what I have yet to learn. Each time it reminds me of how far I've come, and how far I have yet to go. And I miss her. Less now than in years past, but I still wonder what life would be like were she still here.
And she is, just not in a body. That's related to us being living forms of unconditional love I speak of in my book, Love Dad, the love that unites us beyond perception and belief systems. As I wrote, "I believe we Souls are individually radiant sentient spheres of love. We are timeless, changing, evolving beings. It is on that level of Soul that our relationships with our loved ones exist. I envision that we are overlapping radiant love, touching each other in a deep intermingled way, living our lives in an infinite sea of energy we call Love. Humanness is a life-long challenge to integrate our body, emotions and mind so we may wisely and lovingly express our Soul-Spirit."
That is why I continue to love her with all my heart, and have found strength in that practice of a higher love. So on this sacred day, may you pause for a moment to honor your departed loved ones and reclaim the greater love you have experienced through them all. Open your hearts to the wonder of feeling and knowing even a glimpse of unconditional love, and you will be far richer for your willingness to embrace and experience the greater Love within which we all live, breathe, and have our Being. Namaste.
© Copyright 2007 Robert Wilkinson