Message Boards Message Boards

Absence of grief
2/5/18 10:50 PM
Due to the pending death of somebody very close to me, those around me are experiencing sorrow, lamentation, pain and grief.  However, all I feel is compassion for those involved, and happiness that the final days of this person are following a path of peace and contentment.  Grief seems cut off at the root.  Strong love is present, but without clinging. There is a very tiny little bit of sadness and regret, but no fear of loss.

This person is very important to me, and by asking this I don't want to suggest they are just an instrument in my practice.  Nonetheless, my feelings at this time seem quite diagnostic in terms of the path of progress.  I know that the Buddha said this state is to be desired - "without endearment there is no grief".  But I don't know how that would fit into the paths, and actually there is still strong endearment, just without clinging. 

So I would be very grateful for any advice on (i) how to integrate this event into my thinking, (ii) tips on extending this equanimity and compassion to the next area of my life.

By way of background, I have had a number of insight events and believe these to have removed three fetters and weakened two others.  I still occasionally get a bit stressed when under extreme pressure, or frustratred when bits of old karma are triggered. But this happens less and less and I am so much happier and more equanimious than a few years ago.

Thanks, peace and love.   

RE: Absence of grief
2/6/18 7:27 AM as a reply to Not two, not one.
I believe it means you are a happy, logical person. 

RE: Absence of grief
2/6/18 7:33 AM as a reply to seth tapper.
I held onto the raft
In the mounting sea
White knuckles 
and blood

A rescue
A talisman 
Against the mounting

It slipped my grip 
and sailed away
alone and lost I noticed
what a beautiful day. 

A rogue wave came to drown me
My raft long ago gone
our love the wave
and we the sea

RE: Absence of grief
2/6/18 7:46 AM as a reply to seth tapper.
I am feeling poetic so sorry: 

A world of mirrors
A festival of phantoms
All too real

A ground of permanence
In everlasting safety 
Even realer 

Empty of meaning
Empty of truth
Free even of existing
No cage of words can hold us 

RE: Absence of grief
2/6/18 3:57 PM as a reply to seth tapper.
Apologies not required Seth. Enjoying it. Here's a contribution from Freddie Mercury and Queen.

Nothing really matters, anyone can see
Nothing really matters
Nothing really matters to me
Anyway the wind blows

RE: Absence of grief
2/6/18 7:03 PM as a reply to Not two, not one.
Just be normal, and when this person passes away, then grieve normally if that's what you feel like. Looking at the positive side of this person's passing is a good angle to take. Gratitude is healing and you will be less of a burden emotionally to others.

RE: Absence of grief
3/11/18 3:47 PM as a reply to Not two, not one.
So 5 days after my initial post, this person died.  They were in their late 50s and one of the five most important people in my life.  I was fortunate enough to be present at the moment of clinical death, which was a truly profound experience. I had some reluctance to write again because it seems rude to air such a personal matter.  However, I did raise this earlier, and was mindful about the processes.  So here are my observations in the spirit of the dharma.  Please excuse the personal nature of these comments, my friends.

Using the five stages of grief model, here is what I experienced.

1. Numbness/shock and denial.  None.  But the diagnosis of illness was some years ago, before insight, and shock did occur then.

2. Pain, yearning and anger.  None prior to death. Instense yearning occured on 3 or 4 occaions in the few days after death. There was one bout of acute pain (followed by a couple of minor oscillations).  Being mindful, I  could perceive this pain as the ripping off of some of my extended sense of self - a kind of non-dual or 'for whom the bell tolls ... it tolls for thee" pain, that required reorganisation of my sense of identity.  There was no anger or guilt.

3. Emotional depair, sadness, withdrawal.  None prior to death.  Some slightly sad reflection over the next two to three weeks.

4. Reorganisation.  Mostly achieved through story telling, including writing a eulogy and having a wake.  Some ongoing story telling in the week after that.  I realise now this reorganisation was the process of changing the mental fabrication of this peron to be 'external to' rather than 'embedded in' my mind. 

5. Letting go and moving on.  Not much required, and acheived by four weeks after death.  Throughout this time my predominant emotions have remained love, compassion, and admiration for this person's life. 

So suffering has been enormously reduced thanks to meditation practice and the study of the dharma.  Grief has been mild and brief, although not completely absent.  The non-dual pain is also really interesting in that (1) I had progressed enough to clearly perceive it for what it was, yet (2) not so far that I had eliminated this non-dual sense of self.  In fact I had been unaware that my identify was embedded in my environment in this way.

I'm not too sure how to uproot that non-dual extended sense of self.  I guess I will just continue to practice.


RE: Absence of grief
3/11/18 4:45 PM as a reply to Not two, not one.
Well that is some profound dharma work right there. I think you handled it extremely well. 

RE: Absence of grief
3/12/18 10:38 PM as a reply to Richard Zen.
Hey, thanks Richard.  And thanks for your support, before and after.  emoticon