by Robert Wilkinson
If you've been with our gentle community for a while, you know that today is a day of sacred remembrance for me. On January 9, 1988, the death of a loved one thrust me into a hellish grief, leading to a 7 year quest for healing an indescribable pain and suffering and a lifetime of insights into life, death, and unconditional love.
Death is a part of life. We all experience the death of many loved ones over time, if we truly dare to love and feel. Every death brings up some very complicated feelings, and puts us between worlds for awhile. The times we feel the deepest are excellent for getting beyond the superficialities of our world and experiencing the timeless connection we feel with our loved ones.
Each year I use this day for deep reflection and contemplation, since my life was changed forever 22 years ago. My daughter's death forced me to examine many things, including where my head and heart are at on a moment to moment basis. This process has also helped me remember others who have died that I still love, and made me more compassionate with others who grieve the death of a loved one.
Though I'm pretty familiar with walking between worlds, this past year provided me a useful checkup, if it could be called that. In mid-2009, I lost more than a few loved ones from their mid-50s to early 90s in the span of just a few weeks. In each case I went into deep spaces with others who also grieved those losses.
The succession of deaths and saying goodbye to each reminded me of what we all go through each time it happens. Though the pangs of parting be short or long, they still arise when we lose a dear one. Our grief honors the love we share.
It is the pain of parting (at least for awhile) that has to be "healed," since that can bring us out of suffering and separateness into peace, centeredness, connectedness, and love. It definitely helps us sort out our priorities and shows us the way to get beyond distractions.
Deaths are important in another way. In my years-long healing process, I found my "shell of personality" had been cracked open in ways that allowed me to examine other difficult feelings lurking deep within me. In exploring the mishmash of feelings of a lifetime, I began to see what needed to be healed, as well as those feelings we all experience as part of our human condition. Over time this can yield deep forgiveness and compassion if we choose that path.
The period after the death of a loved one can be very disorienting. There are usually conflicting emotions, some degree of frustration (even if the death is expected), and a feeling of being a bit overwhelmed by events that truly are out of our control. Others we must deal with often are not helpful here, especially if they offer inconsiderate or harsh opinions in their own pain and confusion.
When someone extremely close to us dies, if we feel at all, we will usually experience some degree of intense pain, along with asking all kinds of questions that usually can't be answered. Those that can only assuage the mind, not the heart.
Staying centered in the heart is crucial for any genuine healing. The mind tends to distract us from the direct experience of the heart. Learning to express our heart is important in the healing process, since it is our heart that must heal into strength, integrity, and a greater love.
One of the ways I found helpful in dealing with the death of my daughter was to journal, as well as write letters to her. Journaling and writing letters to the deceased seem to help many with the grieving process. Though it didn't start out that way, what I wrote eventually became the book "Love Dad," which offers my story of key elements of the healing journey.
My book "Love Dad" offers my insights into the healing process, common elements in all true healing, how men and women heal similiarly and differently, and rituals that can help facilitate healing. I have been told that many find it useful and comforting, as well as empowering. What I offer there is useful for healing the grief of losing any loved one, whether parent, sibling, child, pet, or any other that we have deeply loved.
For many years I felt extreme pain on this day. Over time and with a lot of loving and breathing and loving and breathing and loving and everything else it took to heal the pain of a lifetime, I learned a strength that allows me to occupy sacred space with others in timeless zones between worlds.
Each has their own ways to grieve and heal. While I can only offer you what I found on my journey, I can absolutely state that the excruciating pain has long since subsided, and I have found strength, courage, compassion, and a timeless loving connectedness with All-That-Is.
So today is my day of deep contemplation of what was and is. As I once wrote to another who lost her son,
"So many people grieving, so many lost in pain, so many walking wounded, nevermore the same. But we do find that 'love is stronger than death,' and find our way back to life if only we walk the walk." May all of you reading these words be present in this Sacred moment and heal whatever you have to heal. My heartfelt blessings on your efforts. Aum.
If you want to explore more about the grieving and healing process, please visit my previous articles. Each one covers different elements and approaches to healing our grief. And of course, give yourself some space and time, since they will bring up some very deep feelings.
From 2008, For Those Who Grieve the Loss of A Child
Happy 22nd Birthday, Blyth. You've changed my life and countless other lives forever. Thank you for making me a better man. Love, Dad.
© Copyright 2010 Robert Wilkinson