The fluffy flakes drift down outside my window, as I delight in our second snowfall of the season. After a big staff event yesterday, full of joy and gratitude for who they are and all they do, I marvel at the contrasts in life.
Today – snow. Two days ago it was 72-degrees outside!
Yesterday, gratitude; tomorrow, gratitude. Yet grief plays, like a mournful cello, a theme weaving through these family holidays. In my heart I am sitting with a yogi in her mourning for a beloved family member who died suddenly.
The philosopher in me knows the all-pervasiveness of death. The mystic in me lives on the threshold of life and death. In the inner realms, I know and feel the constant throb of birth and death happening in every moment in the entire universe. But my heart steps into the chasm of grief with anyone who is propelled there by such a surprise – not a happy surprise for anyone involved.
Many in our community have asked, “What can I do to help?” Of course, if you lived nearby, you could go over and sit with the family. You could bring food. You could clean, cry with them, share stories from the past, and more – but what can you do when you live miles away, even hundreds or thousands of miles away?
Send a card? yes. Send flowers? or a donation to an organization that would be meaningful to the family? yes. Email? go on FaceBook and see the photos, and add your own love and support? yes.
But that’s all over in about 10 minutes. Can’t you do more? Yes.
You can do japa (mantra repetition) on behalf of the one who has died as well as those who are left behind. You simply say, out loud, “I give all the benefits of this japa to (insert name).” You can even say, “…to (name) and their family.” You will be able to see or feel those benefits going to them. It’s quite tangible. It works with Shree Guru Gita too.
I recommend you do it daily for a while. This kind of surprise is not handled in a few days, or even a few months. Your love and support makes a difference – both in the tangible, personal and external connection as well as in the mystical spheres we all come from and in which we all abide.
And remember – grief is merely unexpressed gratitude. IF this death brings up grief for you, then you have hidden levels of grief in you, which means you have hidden levels of gratitude in you. This is the time to express your gratitude. Write a letter to the one you must thank. Don’t mail it. Burn it.
The next day, write another letter. Express only gratitude. It will include many of the things that you said on the previous day, and there will be more. Burn it.
Do one more, on the third day. And when you burn it, you’ll be able to tell that you’ve finished something, something that you came here to do. For you came her to love, you came here to grieve and you came here to express gratitude.
Happy Thanksgiving. May your heart feel…
With love & blessings, Swami Nirmalananda