To my daughter with Love

Veronica Gremler, modified 10 Years ago.

To my daughter with Love

Posts: 3 Join Date: 3/4/11 Recent Posts
My daughter died at a Vipassana Meditation center 9 months ago.
She was a lovely, happy caring being! And healthy! Only 24….

Why have I taken all this time to talk about her death? First because I was not able to, all the darkness and pain have submerged me and I now understand what it is to be “buried alive”

Acceptance of my daughters’ death is my path but it has its dual grief process.

First is the grieving of the loss of a loved one. The emotional aspects, bewilderment, incomprehension, negation, anger, desperation, … trying with all my heart to accept and send vibrations of love to her and the universe.

The other aspect is our physical presence here on earth and the laws of nature. There is no reason that explains her death. There is a judicial procedure in process (intolerably slow) that has not arrived to any conclusion as of today. Our health and well being we can take care of, but to learn a technique of meditation one must be careful! Be fully aware of the implications and significance of this commitment.

Being guided is the essence of my message. To other people that would like to advance in this spiritual path I beg you be careful. Doing a 10 day meditation course is not “vacations” or rest. It is an implication of your soul and “maybe” life. I am not accusing the center for negligence; I will leave the justice system up to finding out what really happened.

This is just a warning.

Not to take situations and life experiences without knowing and being informed. Negligence could be mine also as I, and my son and partner, also did the meditation course. Could I have warned her??? Protected her??? I have the rest of my life to live with this.

Whatever I do, understand and accept, nothing will bring her back. What I hope with this message is that what has happened once will never happen again.

Love and enlightment to all
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Florian Weps, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: To my daughter with Love

Posts: 1028 Join Date: 4/28/09 Recent Posts
Dear Veronica,

It is sad to learn about the death of your daughter. Losing those close to us is never easy.

There is an undercurrent in your post that you want to discuss the dark side and risks of intensive meditation practice. I think this is a worthwhile topic, and I'm sure there will be quite some interest here in discussing this - but in the context of your personal grief, I admit that I'm a bit unsure if that is appropriate. It would be good if you let us know your wishes regarding this.

Florian
C C C, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: To my daughter with Love

Posts: 953 Join Date: 3/9/10 Recent Posts
That's a horrible experience for you veronica. Sorry.

Could Dho perhaps do with a sticky thread "warnings and dangers"?

I've read that meditation can be contraindicated in depression and schizophrenia, but I can't remember the source, unfortunately. On the other hand Kabat-Zinn, a medical doctor recommends an insight style of meditation for people with anxiety and depression, so I don't know. I've got one of his books, I'll have a look and see what he says about warnings and report back.
TJ Broccoli, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: To my daughter with Love

Posts: 93 Join Date: 3/1/10 Recent Posts
hi Veronica,

welcome to the Dh.O.!

i hope you are getting the support you deserve while living through this difficult process. difficult, but to me it sounds like you don't suffer it blindly--instead you are open to looking for deeper meanings, and that sounds healthy. you say that to you this isn't just about dealing with the emotions after losing a loved one, but it's also a process of questioning 'our physical presence here on earth and the laws of nature'.

you mentioned that you, your son, and partner all did the course as well. from your first hand experience of the meditation technique taught there (would you mind sharing what that technique was in detail?), was there anything that you felt could be dangerous or life threatening?

i'm also curious about how the way you live now might be different from before--has this whole process changed you as a person, has it changed the way you experience life in the present, and how?

C C C:

Could Dho perhaps do with a sticky thread "warnings and dangers"?

C C C, i don't quite understand the logic and timing of this suggestion, as from the limited information given i am not seeing any cause-effect connection between Veronica's daughter's death and dangers of the processes and techniques for seeking/developing insight into the nature of things. but should there be any connection, i am interested in hearing and learning about it.

other than these responses that cropped up in my mind, like Florian i wish to see this conversation go which ever direction you (Veronica) are comfortable with, whatever you want to discuss or explore that may help you in this process. as with most posts here, whatever you decide to share, even if it's all about you, it usually ends up benefiting many other people who can relate to your experience and learn from it.

take care,
jill
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Daniel M. Ingram, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: To my daughter with Love

Posts: 3166 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
Dear Veronica,

I am very sorry to hear about your daughter's death.

I was pondering responses regarding your warnings that meditation might have dangerous implications in this context, but realized that information about exactly what happened in this particular case is not entirely clear. There are the standard warnings about the Dark Night and suicidal thoughts and personal crises and the like, and then there are general medical warnings about prolonged sitting and it possibly causing blood clots in the legs which can lead to pulmonary emboli, which can be fatal, etc., and then there are things that can just kill people without warning and have nothing to do with meditation, such as aneurysms that burst and fatal heart arrhythmias and the like, but I had a hard time knowing which way to go without knowing more, so...

If it is not too painful to discuss, what more do you know about how she died and what is suspected? I thought that this information might help make some aspects of this discussion more clear, if it is available.

I remember seeing a list in medical school of the most stressful general life events, and death of a daughter was at the top of the list, so your grief is understandable. Any way we can help here? I am happy that you are able to talk about it now: that generally helps.

Daniel
C C C, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: To my daughter with Love

Posts: 953 Join Date: 3/9/10 Recent Posts
Kabat-Zinn gives one warning in "The Mindful Wat Through Depression", and that is that he suggests it may be prudent to not attempt his mindfulness techniques while in the depths of depression. I guess where you draw that line is a little bit arbitrary. Not really helpful is it. You did say she was a happy girl.
Veronica Gremler, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: To my daughter with Love

Posts: 3 Join Date: 3/4/11 Recent Posts
Hi to all of you!

I am not a very expert forum exchanger, therefore my responses and sharing will be a bit slow.

I realise that with the sharing of her loss, there seems to be some "meaning". Even if just to warn others of the risks and that everyone should inform themselves before any commitment to do a meditation course.

I thank you all for your kind compassionate thougths.

I struggle every day with the loss of my daugther. She was not depressive and had no major physiological traumas except for the usual sorrows and difficulties of her age. The technique she learned is the Vipassana technique.

For the moment the medical-legal procedure tends to say she had a heart arrhythmia, but I have been told that they say this when they can not find anything else. This is not very helpful to me and anyone else. The problem is that there is no legal conclusion as of today, the justice system is veryyyyyyyy slow. In the conclusion (from the justice system) I should hope to have something clearer, and up to that date all is speculation.

I think a discussion on the dark and intensive side of meditation is very much worth it. Even if I did the 10 day course, I never really practiced. I never incorporated meditation into my life and believe I never did any proper deep meditation. Maybe my daughter attained this level but this was the first time she did any meditation course.

I am really trying to understand deep meditation and what occurs in this stage.
Anyone know more?
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Bruno Loff, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: To my daughter with Love

Posts: 1094 Join Date: 8/30/09 Recent Posts
Hi Veronica,

Veronica Gremler:

I struggle every day with the loss of my daugther. She was not depressive and had no major physiological traumas except for the usual sorrows and difficulties of her age. The technique she learned is the Vipassana technique.


I hope you pull your way through into happiness and that you and your family can once again find joy as soon as possible.

Which instructions was she following exactly, do you know? There are a few different techniques. Do you know how the retreat proceeded, what the schedule was? E.g. did the retreatants always sit during meditation, or did they alternate walking and sitting? How many hours a day did they meditate, and sleep, and so on? Did they focus on specific areas during their meditation?


For the moment the medical-legal procedure tends to say she had a heart arrhythmia, but I have been told that they say this when they can not find anything else. This is not very helpful to me and anyone else.


Arrhythmia and heart palpitations, chest pains and so on are common occurrences during an intense vipassana retreat. I myself have had and still have these things happen as a consequence of meditation. But this does not lead to bad consequences for everyone. Maybe she had a latent heart condition that was uncovered due to meditation? Had her heart been tested before? (the brother of a friend recently died of a sudden heart attack at 36) Or due to simply sitting down all day in a difficult posture?

Maybe this will one day be useful for someone else: if it turns out that it was meditation related, maybe we can find a test that can be done to prevent these things from happening in the future. Daniel is a doctor, he has already suggested some possibilities.


I think a discussion on the dark and intensive side of meditation is very much worth it. Even if I did the 10 day course, I never really practiced. I never incorporated meditation into my life and believe I never did any proper deep meditation. Maybe my daughter attained this level but this was the first time she did any meditation course.

I am really trying to understand deep meditation and what occurs in this stage.
Anyone know more?


One thing that people often don't realize is that the change that happens due to meditation can be very profound and have many physiological correlates. Stuff changes in the way you breathe, in the way you digest, in the way your heart beats, etc.

Take good care,
Bruno
Veronica Gremler, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: To my daughter with Love

Posts: 3 Join Date: 3/4/11 Recent Posts
Hi Bruno,
Thank you for taking time to understand what is not understandable.
I realise I am not up to going into battle or controversy over the death of my daughter.
The only fact I know for sure is that she is gone.

The reason I started this discussion was to warn, so I wish you all the best.
If ever we find out the medical reason I will post it.

Dharma is about compassionate love - Metta to all.
Take Care,
Veronica

In memory of her smile:

Désormais tu vivras deux fois
Mon âme s'est blottie en tes bras
Pour mieux te protéger du froid
Ne m'oublie pas...

Je pars pour un dernier voyage
D'où personne jamais ne revient
Sois fort et évite le naufrage
Car n'oublie pas...

Je veux te voir rire et danser
Chanter, rêver, t'émerveiller
Et conjuguer le verbe aimer
Et n'oublie pas...

Guéris vite de tes blessures
Même étant prive de mon corps
Je ne suis pas tout à fait mort
Et n'oublie pas....

Les jours ou te seras heureuse
Vers les étoiles, tourne les yeux
Je serai la, à te sourire
Oui N'oublie pas....

Je vis dans tout ce que tu aimes, je vis
Tant que tu vis, je vis aussi
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Abingdon ., modified 9 Years ago.

RE: To my daughter with Love

Posts: 53 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Hello Veronica,
My sincere condolences for your loss. I'll dedicate the merits of my practice to you and your daughter.

I can certainly understand that you don't want to enter into debate or battle. And it sounds as if you've decided to no longer post. Fair enough. However, if you can find it in yourself to do so, I would appreciate it if you could provide some more details because right now I do not understand the warning. Perhaps because of the legal proceeding you cannot comment. That's fine too. And please, PLEASE, don't think I'm being insensitive by asking the following questions, because I most certainly do no intend to be.

But from reading your posts, all I know for certain is that your daughter was on a meditation retreat when she died. You mention the doctor said she had an arrhythmia so that leads me to believe that she died of natural causes and not by foul play or by her own hand, but that's not explicitly stated. So all I can gather from your warning is, "Be careful." But careful of what, exactly? That's what I'm trying to understand. Perhaps if you could find it in yourself to be able to share with us more of the details of what happened -- was she sitting at the time it happened? Walking? Sleeping? Engaged in some other activity? Any other pertinent details? -- we might be able to receive the full benefit of your warning to us.

Again, please understand I'm not trying to argue with you or debate you, just trying to understand the circumstances in order to understand the warning.

With much metta,
-a
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Tommy M, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: To my daughter with Love

Posts: 1199 Join Date: 11/12/10 Recent Posts
Hi Veronica,

Sorry to hear about your tragic loss, for what it's worth you clearly have the love and support of the people on this site.

I have a few questions here which have concerned me since you first posted:

1. Why did you choose this site to come on and voice your concerns?
2. Why, or how, do you believe that vipassana contributed to your daughters death?
3. What do you hope to learn from the discussion?

I don't want to come off as uncaring or cold but I think there's a very high risk that, through grief and trying to make sense of a horrendous and tragic loss, you'll shoehorn whatever "evidence" you hear to fit the belief you already hold about vipassana, or "deep meditation". I'll highlight a few of your statements:

I realise that with the sharing of her loss, there seems to be some "meaning". Even if just to warn others of the risks and that everyone should inform themselves before any commitment to do a meditation course.

You don't actually know if the retreat, the meditation centre, or the meditation techniques had any direct link to your daughters death yet, is that correct?

It appears that you've already made up your mind that, one way or another, meditation contributed to your daughters death and I don't think that this is a very fair argument to make, particularly when it's being made from a place of pain, grief and confusion. I can't fully understand how you're feeling and I won't pretend to, you've experienced loss in a way which I can't even begin to comprehend. My heart breaks as I write this, I'm a father and the very thought of such a loss pains me deeply, I too would want answers and would walk the earth for eternity to find them, but I think there's a point where the pain and desire for a resolution colours the thinking and stops us from being objective and finding out the truth.

For the moment the medical-legal procedure tends to say she had a heart arrhythmia, but I have been told that they say this when they can not find anything else. This is not very helpful to me and anyone else.

Who told you that this is what they say when they can not find anything else?

I'm not a doctor or a lawyer, Dr. Daniel Ingram's a doctor though and I'd like to hear his opinion on that statement as I don't believe that this is the case. Again, it sounds as though you've already made up your mind with regards to the causes, or at least you don't believe the current medical opinion.

I think a discussion on the dark and intensive side of meditation is very much worth it. Even if I did the 10 day course, I never really practiced. I never incorporated meditation into my life and believe I never did any proper deep meditation. Maybe my daughter attained this level but this was the first time she did any meditation course.

Which level are you referring to? Which "dark and intensive side of meditation" are you referring to, given that you appear to have very little knowledge of meditation in general.

Look, I know I'm going to sound like I'm a being a completely unsympathetic prick in this posting, but I do think that there's a very unpleasant undercurrent here and that certain indirect accusations are being made. I think these issues need to be brought out into the open, discussed properly and not just hinted at:

- You suspect that meditation, vipassana specifically, has contributed to the tragic death of your daughter.
- Meditation may have physical health risks for some people, which should be addressed more thoroughly.

There's a lot of people on here who know a LOT about vipassana and many, many other meditation techniques so why not start off my finding out what it actually is that you're investigating?

I genuinely wish the very best for you, I can't begin to relate to what you're going through but please understand that I post these questions in the hope that you can learn the truth about vipassana, about meditation and perhaps learn to cope day to day with your pain. I just want to remain objective and I mean no disrespect, please accept my apologies if you take my words as hurtful as this is certainly not my intention.

Tommy
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tarin greco, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: To my daughter with Love

Posts: 658 Join Date: 5/14/09 Recent Posts
hi veronica,

7 years ago, a close friend of mine died in his sleep at age 21. the cause was determined to have been heart arrhythmia. chris had no known underlying medical conditions and was thought to have been in the excellent health typical for a man of his age. he had a passing interest in buddhism and enlightenment, though he did not do any meditation, and as i was a vipassana practitioner at the time, we spoke about such topics frequently and i occasionally advised him to consider sitting a course for himself. when i received the news of his death, i wondered if there was anything i could have done to save him. in my experience, vipassana causes a person to be more aware of the body, so perhaps he would have been able to know if there was a problem with his heart. the questions that came to my mind were, 'what if i had done more to encourage him to learn to meditate?' and 'what if i had set a better example for him (so that he would have been more inspired to learn)?'

tarin
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Abingdon ., modified 9 Years ago.

RE: To my daughter with Love

Posts: 53 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
tarin greco:
vipassana causes a person to be more aware of the body, so perhaps he would have been able to know if there was a problem with his heart.
tarin


Hi Tarin,
That can work both ways. I've had arrhythmia issues on and off for quite some time, and when I first started meditating I started having panic attacks because I would feel my heart skip or flutter, and I was not yet equanimous enough to just observe it. I'd feel the odd beats, freak out, and the surge of adrenaline that resulted would exacerbate it. It was a vicious cycle. As my practice matures I'm now able to just sit with it better, but I still feel it sometimes.

I've had all sorts of doctors and specialists examine me and run tests, but not one has yet said that I have reason for concern. Everyone's situation is unique of course, so please -- no one take this as advice to ignore heart problems!

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