by Robert Wilkinson
I gave you this last year, and offer it again since it seems appropriate to what many have gone through or are going through right now.
Written in the aftermath of my cat-teacher’s death last year on what would have been his 18th birthday, it seems fitting that I re-publish it again this year on what would have been his 19th birthday. I know of more than a few who have just lost a loved one, confronting their own mortality, or going through a major life ending. Since death is a fact of life, this may be helpful for moving through the endings going on right now.
For your reconsideration, Dealing With Death and Loss – Reflections On What’s Happening For Many Right Now
Recently a friend of the site sent me condolences while sharing his own devastating loss. Many things seem to be ending right now for many people, for better or worse. Today we explore some navigational tools.
Again, the fact that so many losses and deaths of various sorts are happening right now could be attributed to many factors, since there are “good days to die,” so to speak. We have discussed many correlations these past two years about what’s ending and why, and how to approach the losses with an eye to opening to new vistas of conscious, concrete development. Still, since so many are feeling hammered right now, I figured this correspondence might be a good thing to share with readers who are going through losses and deaths.
The person who wrote me expressed great compassion and sympathy for my recent loss. Though unclear at the time about the specifics of my loss, he said he didn’t want to presume to pry into the details, and shared that he also was dealing with a death involving the ending of his 35 year marriage. Here was my response, with minor edits and additions for readability:
I appreciate your caring tone and words. There was nothing “prying” about what you wrote. Long time readers know I’m pretty safe to be around in times of loss. If you wonder what I mean, please read my posts from every January 9.
By now you know this loss involved the death of my 18 year old cat teacher and road partner of 25,000 miles or more. His death was not a tragedy as much as an inevitability, just as it is for all of us. And he lived and died with dignity, love, compassion, and caring from those around him. Not bad for anyone.
There were Indian ragas playing, incense burning, and he was held and rocked as he slipped into the vast and mysterious heavenworld known as "Devachan." It's where all life on Earth comes from and where it all goes to. It was my privilege to be his attendant. Though letting go was painful, it was also inevitable, and an opportunity to keep my heart open within a greater Love.
I have no problem sharing my feelings with my readers, nor having them share their feelings with the community. We’re a gentle bunch, and most who come find some comfort in knowing they’re not alone in their feelings, regardless of what difficulty brings the response forth. That's part of what my site is all about.
Having walked in the fire more times than I can count, while I never “like” death, I also am familiar with its blessings as well as the sorrow that comes when a loved one dies. And every loss needs to be grieved in a healthy way. Having been through divorces this lifetime, they also need to be processed, since they involve the loss of hope for a future with that Being.
35 years is a long time. There must have been something that just played itself out. Sometimes relationships are like that.
We come together when younger, walk the road of life together, make our individual and joint decisions, and ultimately either wake up one morning as old friends, or sudden strangers. (Sometimes both!) Those moments are not even a “right and wrong” type of frame; they are simply awakening to the fact that neither you nor they are who you used to be.
Then we walk on, either together or apart. And every ending holds the promise of a new beginning, once the echoes of the memories of perceptions of echoes of memories of perceptions of echoes of memories fade over time and experience.
You’re right that we don’t need to endure for years, only moment to moment. Loss of loved ones helps us get centered in the now, which is the only time there is. That’s why in my book “Love Dad” I offered that when we’re grieving, sometimes the only thing to do is “breathe and love and breathe and love and breathe and love and breathe and...”
Ultimately, all death and loss reminds us of the impermanence of all we assume to be “real,” and each significant loss, if there was any love at all, reminds us that we must let our previously conditional love become unconditional Love. In your case, you have all the memories and experiences that created and sustained love over all those years.
Now you get to take that love and raise it to a higher level, since the condition is no longer real. But your love is real. All you loved was real. All you could love is real. Just not with the conditions you’re used to.
To echo your words, “May God be with you.” May you find love and peace in remembering you are not that which suffers. You are an Eternal having a human experience, breaking the link between pain and suffering. While we both share a void, in learning how to hold that void, navigate that void, and sit still within that void, we come to hear the inner voice that lets us know WE LOVE.
Once we grieve what must be grieved in a healthy way, a new awareness naturally arises that opens us to a greater way of Being in our world. Over time, with our willingness to heal one step at a time, one day at a time, our lives know a new strength, a new love, a new attitude, and new openness to life and its infinite joys. We do not have to push the river. We just have to breathe and love and breathe and love and breathe and love and….
Aum and blessings, Robert
As is usual with such correspondences, I told him I’d probably use some of what I wrote in a post, since it seems many are having a very hard time right now with what has ended or is ending. I never violate a trust, but when our shared experience can assist the greater good, well, that’s also what this site is about.
All death, divorce, loss, and endings force us to confront a void. It is when we face “the unknown” that we either experience fear or peace. If there is any fear whatsoever at a significant death or loss it shows us the way to a greater Love, a greater Way, a greater Truth, and a greater Light. Every death opens the door to a renewal at the right way and time.
Again, we do not have to push the river, or fear that we won’t experience a renewal. If we do what we have to do, taking the high road however we can whenever we can however we define it, eventually we will come to a greater peace, love, and wisdom as we move from the unreal to the real, from darkness to light, and from death to immortality.
I believe those who come to this site for “the Wisdom, the Way, and the Community” are kind and thoughtful beings. Since walking the Way involves feeling all there is to feel while not being thrown off balance by the hard-edged weirdness and non-stop deaths and losses, be kind to yourself as you navigate these roiled waters. Be as loving and forgiving of yourself as you were taught to be with others.
In practicing this loving kindness to self and others, you’ll find times when it’s appropriate to remind others to be kind to themselves when they’re having a hard time. Then as you have been comforted, you will become a comfort.
We’re all in this together, and when one of us feels pain, we will all feel that pain to the degree we are part of the Whole. That’s why as we evolve our response-ability as Eternals having a human experience, we become part of what I have termed “the corrective force of Nature Herself.”
When the loving-kindness we ARE becomes as natural to express as breathing itself, then we can be the eyes and heart of compassion and be part of the evolution of the Whole. It’s why we’re here to begin with. In this time of profound loss, learn to sit in the void and hear the Voice of the Silence. It will show you the Way to unconditional Love.”
© Copyright 2014 Robert Wilkinson