Dealing with death

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  • Ryumon
    Member
    • Apr 2007
    • 1689

    Dealing with death

    For the second time in as many weeks, someone close to me has died. The first was a friend and colleague who I'd known for a dozen years. We were both freelancers, and we worked together many times, and were often in touch just to chat, even though she lived far from me (in Paris; I'm in southern France). She died giving birth, which is something rare these days, but there was a complication that was known about before she delivered, and things just went bad. She leaves behind three kids and an unemployed dad.

    Today, I found out that a physical therapist who I saw twice a week for several years - and who was also a friend, and leader of a kids' ski club near where I live - was killed in Morocco during a carjacking/robbery. He had moved from France to Morocco on retirement, having recently married a French/Moroccan woman.

    I've never had people close to me - even though these were not really close friends - die so suddenly, and two so close together. Especially the second case, I've never know anyone to suffer violence, even being mugged or injured (and I grew up in NYC).

    I find this hard to accept, even though I want to try and accept it. Grieving is natural, but it's not something I've ever been good at (such as when people in my family died).

    I know there's nothing I can do, and what is past is past, but it makes me sad.

    I'm not even sure why I posted this, but I have a feeling that in this forum many people have suffered similar losses, and I'm reminded of the story where the Buddha told a woman to fetch a mustard seed from a house where no one has ever died...
    ---
    Ryūmon (Kirk)
    流文

    SAT/LAH

    I know nothing.
  • chicanobudista
    Member
    • Mar 2008
    • 864

    #2
    Re: Dealing with death

    Originally posted by kirkmc

    I find this hard to accept, even though I want to try and accept it. Grieving is natural, but it's not something I've ever been good at (such as when people in my family died).
    .
    ...and not many people are. Not at least the people that I know. Grieving is hard.

    This past two weeks, my mother suffered an embolism. We all thought she was going to die. She came close to the end. But. She did manage to survive. She is healing still. At the same time, my godfather who is like my father in my life is 87. He like an ember cooling down with faint orange fire of life coming to that point of his cycle. We know this time will come, but we will grieve and will not be easy.

    Peace in your heart.
    paz,
    Erik


    Flor de Nopal Sangha

    Comment

    • scott
      Member
      • Oct 2009
      • 138

      #3
      Re: Dealing with death

      Death puts us face-to-face with so much. Kirk, all I can offer (besides heart feelings) is a suggestion to take your time. Deep stuff, mental and physiological, is going to be going on for some days, maybe several weeks. Give it the time and care and openness it deserves. Some people say it's good for the dead person as well, if they felt a connection to you. And of course shikantaza. Be well.

      Comment

      • Jundo
        Treeleaf Founder and Priest
        • Apr 2006
        • 39065

        #4
        Re: Dealing with death

        Dear Kirk,

        My thoughts to you your friends and family, all not apart.

        I am glad you mentioned the story of the mustard seed ... I have put a link to one version here ...

        viewtopic.php?p=19611#p19611

        Well, after "all these years of Zen" I will tell you what I have "learned" about losing a friend or someone we love ... Allow me a serious tone ...

        I have learned that it breaks one's heart. The Buddha often spoke of 'being torn apart from those we love' as one root of basic human suffering. We cry, we remember (the good and the painful), we long and our heart is broken. We grieve just as all human beings grieve. Love and friendship snatched away, orphaned children and widowed spouses, loss. ... Unbearable loss and pain.

        We all know death and dying in our house, none of us can offer a mustard seed.

        ... but I have also learned this:

        We live with "what is". Strange as it sounds, our suffering in life is often compounded because we push it away, rather than allow the pain. There is a difference between the pain of loss, and the pain of punishing oneself further by wishing to be free of the pain of loss. That is much like being burned by a flame, then fanning and burning oneself again with a flame in protest of the first. Sitting fully and completely with "what is" means sitting with "our feeling of rejecting what is" ... for that feeling of rejecting is, itself, "just what is" in that moment.

        And in so doing ... the fire remains, but much of its fuel and fanning is removed.

        So, when one's heart is broken ... allow each shattered piece as perfectly broken. Cry a Bodhisattva's cry, allow the past (both the good and painful). Grieve, realizing that "to grieve in the face of death" is a natural human condition. Feel loss, and do not push it away ... for there is now a space in one's life which before was filled. Eyes flooded with tears, unbearable sorrow ... do not push these away, for we are human and such is the human condition. The unbearable is borne.

        ... and I believe that I have learned this too:

        There is that taste with never any loss, no death, no separation ... no time, thus never a time to be apart. There were never two of you. It is much like the leaves of the tree, some of which wither and fall away in the autumn ... yet the tree remains, and is what the leaves truly were all along. Where that tree goes and grows is our very going and growth. There is no loss, for never can that be taken away. All feeling of separation between life as-it-is, and life as-I-may-wish-it-to-be dropped away ... and 'I' too.

        Now, that does not mean we have all the answers on such questions (often "not knowing" is the answer), but it does leave - for me at least -a sense of deep trust, allowing ... confidence, gratitude, yielding. I believe we sense the deep interconnection of all phenomena of this world, taste that our birth in sentient form was not but random outcome, sense a reason and direction to human life and all of creation, honor this place, express deep gratitude, trust and a willingness to embrace what is ... much like being born upon a stage in a mysterious theatre and, without seeing all there is to see behind the curtain, allowing the show to go on. Characters step on and off this stage. I sometimes compare our attitude to that of innocent babes with a deep trust in this source and world that birthed us, that feeds us and which somehow allows us air to breathe. As the spring time comes following the winter, and life returns ... so do we allow the winter to come and life to fade.

        Oh ... this world is not as we would wish, this garden has many weeds. Some flowers fall before their time, some are unjustly taken. It is a wild place. All we can do (the best to do) is accept the garden on its own terms. For those taken seemingly too early, much "before their time" ... we can drop all thought of time, the long or short. Each leaf and flower lives as long as it lives ... merely returning to the ground and source from which we spring. From that place from which we are miraculously born ... certainly to that place we return, for we never left there at all.

        Finally, I have learned this ...

        Comfort the widow and widower, feed and comfort the orphan. Help find a solution for the violence or disease that may bring such sadness into the world. Perhaps, with time, help those beings yet living find a little peace and understanding too.

        All these "things learned" are true at once, not two or three.

        I am sorry for your loss of your friends, Kirk.

        Gassho, J
        ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

        Comment

        • lorax
          Member
          • Jun 2008
          • 381

          #5
          Re: Dealing with death

          Dear Kerk

          Thank you so much for sharing your loss with the rest of us. When I face difficult times, I often go to Jundo to help me screw my head on straight. He always responds and helps me get back on my feet, I am sure he has done the same for you in responding to your posting. The difference is by your posting it here in the forum, we all have benefited from his teaching..

          I cut Jundo's response and the link to the mustard seed story and pasted it in a file where I can find it. I know for sure that next week, next month or whenever, I will need to read it again, for the loss of our love ones and friends is a certainty.

          Take care

          Jim
          Shozan

          Comment

          • Manatee
            Member
            • Nov 2009
            • 145

            #6
            Re: Dealing with death

            Thank you Kirk, and thank you Jundo.

            Gassho, and remember, we sit with you even in your loss,

            Mandy

            Comment

            • Jundo
              Treeleaf Founder and Priest
              • Apr 2006
              • 39065

              #7
              Re: Dealing with death

              Originally posted by lorax
              Dear Kerk

              Thank you so much for sharing your loss with the rest of us. When I face difficult times, I often go to Jundo to help me screw my head on straight. He always responds and helps me get back on my feet, I am sure he has done the same for you in responding to your posting. The difference is by your posting it here in the forum, we all have benefited from his teaching..
              No no no no no ... Don't mistake the traffic cop telling folks to keep moving with the person actually doing the driving.
              ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

              Comment

              • Ryumon
                Member
                • Apr 2007
                • 1689

                #8
                Re: Dealing with death

                Jundo,

                Thank you for your lesson. These are very wise words indeed:

                Originally posted by Jundo
                We live with "what is". Strange as it sounds, our suffering in life is often compounded because we push it away, rather than allow the pain. There is a difference between the pain of loss, and the pain of punishing oneself further by wishing to be free of the pain of loss. That is much like being burned by a flame, then fanning and burning oneself again with a flame in protest of the first. Sitting fully and completely with "what is" means sitting with "our feeling of rejecting what is" ... for that feeling of rejecting is, itself, "just what is" in that moment.
                I guess it all comes down to that, all of our suffering, that we push away and increase the suffering (like the Chinese handcuffs you like to use as a prop). But here, you have hit the nail right on the head.

                I will grieve, as you say, but I will try and keep all this in perspective.

                To the others who replied, thank you as well for your perspectives. Chugai, you seem to have suffered enough for ten people in your life...

                Gassho.
                ---
                Ryūmon (Kirk)
                流文

                SAT/LAH

                I know nothing.

                Comment

                • kfrance0
                  Member
                  • Jul 2009
                  • 44

                  #9
                  Re: Dealing with death

                  This thread has been good for me to read, as I lost my grandmother a couple of weeks back.
                  Kevin France
                  ---
                  Breathe fully and effortlessly, like a child
                  See who you are, without distortion
                  (Tao Te Ching, ch 10)

                  Comment

                  • Undo
                    Member
                    • Jun 2007
                    • 495

                    #10
                    Re: Dealing with death

                    .

                    Comment

                    • lorax
                      Member
                      • Jun 2008
                      • 381

                      #11
                      Re: Dealing with death

                      Jundo wrote:

                      “No no no no no ... Don't mistake the traffic cop telling folks to keep moving with the person actually doing the driving.”
                      That may be trune, but a necessary function when a bunch of us are still operating on a learners permit.
                      Again your current chapter for our drivers operating manual is greatly appreciated.

                      Jim
                      Shozan

                      Comment

                      • Rich
                        Member
                        • Apr 2009
                        • 2587

                        #12
                        Re: Dealing with death

                        When someone dies that you know or have known, especially someone close, there is a real loss and a part of you dies too. As Jundo and others have already said acceptance of this loss, this dying, is important to begin the healing process and the growth of new life. Every few years my bonzai tree loses most of its leaves and I watch and wonder whether it will die or be reborn. I look for a sign of new growth as I care for it and water it. When the first new green comes out it's like a miracle. Then I know that its life will continue. The acceptance of this life and this death is very important especially as you grow older. I think sitting is an affirmation of life and let's the healing and growth process be itself. At least it works for my bonzai tree
                        /Rich
                        _/_
                        Rich
                        MUHYO
                        無 (MU, Emptiness) and 氷 (HYO, Ice) ... Emptiness Ice ...

                        https://instagram.com/notmovingmind

                        Comment

                        • Taigu
                          Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest
                          • Aug 2008
                          • 2710

                          #13
                          Re: Dealing with death

                          Birth will end in death.
                          Youth will end in old age.
                          Meetings will end in separation.
                          All things in cyclic existence are transient, are impermanent.
                          Thanks Undo,

                          The Dharma is not designed to protect us from the turmoil and hell of loss. Nothing seems to make sense anymore, people floating, things ugly or tasteless. In the midst of this, the Dharma is what allows us to cry, shout and scream, and just this. Like a boddhisatva jumping into an ocean of fire, we just jump. And no doubt it burns, and no doubt it hurts. No heaven, no "we shall be together again ", no mental gimmicks or ...if we can manage it, nothing. The pure and sole taste of this. Engulfed in flammes. Bare, naked pain with no dress ups. Sitting with tears pooring out of every inch of our skin.As we find the courage and madness to go there, a flower blooms.

                          gassho

                          taigu

                          Comment

                          • Undo
                            Member
                            • Jun 2007
                            • 495

                            #14
                            Re: Dealing with death

                            .

                            Comment

                            • Tb
                              Member
                              • Jan 2008
                              • 3186

                              #15
                              Re: Dealing with death

                              Hi.

                              Anyone got any "references/links" to "buddhist death/burial ceremonies"?

                              Mtfbwy
                              Fugen
                              Life is our temple and its all good practice
                              Blog: http://fugenblog.blogspot.com/

                              Comment

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