by Robert Wilkinson
Long time readers of this community know that January 9 is one of the most sacred days in my entire year. Many years ago I was shipwrecked in hell on that day, leading to a long and arduous journey in finding my way out of indescribable pain and suffering. Today I'll offer you an open letter I wrote to someone having an extremely hard time due to the death of his child.
I am truly saddened to hear of the death of your son. Having been a bereaved parent for many years in my life, I know you are shipwrecked in hell and having an extremely hard time. My grief had a very hard edge for many years, teaching me patience, willingness to learn, and a goal of lessening my pain and suffering.
My journey gave me a new understanding of the power of radical forgiveness toward myself and everything and everyone else. By surrendering to the process of grieving in healthy ways, I learned what really matters and how to maintain caring for those things. I certainly am transformed forever by the death of my daughter, but have learned how to live more fully with more compassion and understanding than I used to have.
Though it is natural to feel tired beyond description and as though no one else knows how terrible it feels, these are feelings shared by millions of others who also have lost a child. It's a major task to try to "snap out" of feelings of chaos and futility, and sometimes our best efforts to stay cheerful and task-oriented fall short of what we would like, which of course leads to more feelings of frustration. I know, as I was right there for about three years, directly in the heart of those feelings, a long time ago.
I'm sure your wife is also in her own turmoil in her own way, and I'm sure it is very distressing to your daughter. You each need to find ways to heal that is right for you. Men grieve in their way, women in theirs, children in theirs. I wrote a chapter on the similarities and differences between men and women in my book "Love Dad - Healing the Grief of Losing A Child." It is the story of my process, what I experienced and found along the way, and some things I needed to learn about life, love, and living with purpose in the moment, taking nothing for granted.
Grief comes in waves, and heals in waves. We just have to learn how and when to move into our healing process, the great mystery of reclaiming life after death. It hurts a lot in the beginning, but over time and with practice we can actually see how we are moving into an inner strength and power.
We are members of "the world's most reluctant club." None of us would have ever wanted this, nor would we ever wish this upon another. We will live with our experience forever, but by choosing to do "grief work" you can turn the experience into a strength and courage that nothing in this world will ever shake again.
Feelings of letting our loved ones down, our dead child, our spouse, our family, are natural, even if untrue. You didn't know beforehand, so how could you have done anything differently? If you could have, you would have. This is a Sacred Wound that many throughout the ages have experienced. Right now on Earth we number in the millions, with over 2 million added each year in the US alone.
This inner state of being is of course affecting all your outer affairs. You may need to portion part of your day to material things, and then allow yourself time to meditate, pray, and do other inner healing practices. That way both your inner Self and outer affairs each get their due. My mind was not on my work in the months after her death, nor should it have been. I needed to experience depth of feeling so I could heal my shattered ego.
I found it helpful when I felt overwhelmed by feelings to simply love and breathe and love and breathe and love and breathe and love and......
Though you may feel like giving up on life, that really doesn't solve anything, and actually sets your Eternal Self back in its evolution. Better to take the challenge to become someone deeper and wiser than you used to be. If we're open to it, we see there are opportunities to be effective and productive in the world, which can help restore a measure of sanity over time.
If you haven't read them yet, when you can, please go to these articles as they may help you reorient your view in ways that could be helpful.
We all have physical, emotional, and mental things we need to clean up if we are to live our higher Spiritual Self. These are the sources of our suffering when we are wounded, and these are the things we must learn about if we are to turn pain into strength, experience into wisdom, and fear into love.
Please try to relax into the transition from death into a new life taking small steps while caring for yourself and your loved ones, and give thanks to Spirit and God that you have a heart and a mind and loved ones that love and care for you. Welcome small opportunities to embrace the Spirit of Love and Compassion, and simplify everything since externals are less important than that your hearts can be seen and expressed clearly. Though much has been taken away, there is also much to be grateful for.
Aum and blessings to you and your loved ones.
© Copyright 2008 Robert Wilkinson