Death happens every day. People come into our lives and then they leave. The death of a loved one is surely one of the hardest experiences in life to endure. And we are powerless over it.
We each have our own way and time frame for mourning. So I am not going to speak much on those topics, I will assume you are doing everything you need to do to take care of yourself.
I’d like to share with you some of how death came to me and how my perception evolved into a Bigger Picture.
I happen to have experienced more death than some and not as much as others in my time here, so far.
With each loss, death was different. My first couple of experiences with death included my cousin who died in Viet Nam and, around the same time, my Grandmother, who was the only grandparent I knew. I was about 12 years old.
I didn’t know what death was. I was saddened by everyone else’s sorrow. I didn’t know my cousin well, and my grandmother was an old Irish immigrant who didn’t talk much, at least not to me. I believed that they went to heaven and didn’t think much more about it.
When my parents died a few years later (I was 15 when Dad died, and six months later when Mom died I was 16), I was somewhat aware they were dying. Both were in the hospital when they died and had been sick for some time before that. So on some level, I knew it was coming. But just the same, I couldn’t quite grasp what was happening.
My feelings were numb, except for anger. That is all I felt for a long time. When my parents died, nobody talked about their deaths with me. Even the priest at the funeral was vague…something about how they were good people and that they went to heaven. I was angry and confused because I knew at the end of their lives they were not good people and questioned how God could take them.
Let me back up a little. My parents were good people, but they had the disease of alcoholism that ate away at them in every way. What I had experienced for several years prior to their death was the devastation of their alcoholism. So I was not only angry, but very confused.
A couple of years after that, my best friend died. Once again, anger and numbness were the feelings that emerged. A few years after that, my younger brother passed on and I was able to feel more, and understand more.
At the time of my younger brother’s passing, I was a monk. I lived in an ashram and was studying scriptures that talk about the cycle of life and death, reincarnation, our purpose in life, where we were going after life on earth, and how we got there. I was tapped into the Bigger Picture; the Bigger Picture being that life around us is not all there is to life. That Life is much more than going to school, finding a job/career, settling down and having a family, buying the house and summer home, being the best you can, etc. While those things are important, they are not what life is all about. Life was also was about developing my Inner Self. In fact, the outer world was important, but more important was my Inner World…the Kingdom of Heaven within. All the religions teach it: be in this world, but not of it.
By now, my knowledge of death had grown. I had a belief and faith in what life here on earth was for and where we were going to after it.
What a difference that made going forward.
I had several more deaths of close friends and even had a few near death experiences, myself, and then there was the death of my fiancée.
Having knowledge about life and death, and that you just don’t die and then nothing else happens or that you go into a big void was very helpful in the process of grieving for me.
After lots of reading and research I have found that the major religions basically say the same thing about life and death.
That we are here to live life by following the Laws of God (basically, love God, live a moral life and not hurt others, but there is more) and, most importantly, to develop and continually improve our relationship with the God of our understanding.
Each of us does that in a different way, and you’ll know you’re on course when things like death knock on your door. When you know the Bigger Picture of Who you really are, Why you are here, and Where you are going afterward, you’ll have that anchor in life. You won’t be tossed around when the “storms of life” hit you. They will rock you, but you won’t be lost at sea.
Find those teachings that give you your anchor.
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