My mother's death

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  • Robby
    Member
    • Oct 2013
    • 4

    My mother's death

    Hello all,

    Two months ago my mother was killed in a tragic accident that my father and I were witness to. In the past two months I have had trouble coming to terms with her extremely sudden death and its impacts on my life. I returned to my Zazen practice a few days after the accident and have found momentary peace there but my mind is stormy and restless when I am not sitting. I understood concepts of impermanence and non-attachment but having someone close to me killed before my eyes made me realize how attached I really was. I find myself thinking more about the four noble truths but I am at a loss on how to proceed. I am writing to ask all of your opinions of death, attachment, impermanence, and possible life after death.

    Gassho,

    Robby
  • Hans
    Member
    • Mar 2007
    • 1853

    #2
    Hello Robby,

    thank you for joining the Treeleaf forum.

    Something as traumatic as that which you describe in your post cannot be meditated or reasoned away, especially not after only two months. We are all different in how we grieve, but around here we let tears fall when they rain down our cheeks and are present too in moments of joy. Emotional pain of the kind that you hint at can really tear your guts out on a level that no fancy or wise Buddhist concept can ever reach at short notice. Give yourself time to grieve, give yourself time to find healing together with your father, or individually if each one of you needs some space and silence for themselves.

    One of the most regularly told anecdotes about a Zen approach to death goes like this...

    A young monk once approached his teacher and asked him: "Roshi, a serene Master like yourself must surely know what happens after death?" The teacher smiled at his young and eager student "How should I know? I may be a Zen master, but not a dead one!"


    My personal opinion of death is that it sucks...and that it is a most powerful reminder to try and walk along this path of life with integrity and honesty...and without fearing to say "I love you."

    If you find the time, maybe you can introduce yourself a bit further.


    Gassho,

    Hans Chudo Mongen

    Comment

    • Kokuu
      Treeleaf Priest
      • Nov 2012
      • 6737

      #3
      Hi Robby

      My feelings are similar to those of Hans.

      Whatever we understand about death, there is a physical and emotional reaction to the loss of a loved one, especially so when it is so sudden and you were present at the accident itself.

      I would suggest not expecting your mind not to be turbulent at the moment or expecting this to be something that goes away quickly. Certain cultures are known to give people time outside of normal expectations of functioning following such a death. In modern society, there is often an expectation to be back to normal fairly quickly. Grief cannot be rushed or processed away with the intellect.

      Attachment to those we love is completely understandable and not something that Buddhism tries to do away with. It is part of being human as is our reaction to loss.

      I am so sorry for your loss, Robby. Be kind and gentle to yourself during this difficult time.

      Gassho
      Andy

      ps. something I do find helpful (although to establish a greater rather than lesser connection to my lost loved on) is lighting some incense in their memory and/or reciting a favourite sutra or piece of liturgy such as The Heart Sutra.

      Comment

      • Victor Chu
        Member
        • Jan 2014
        • 45

        #4
        Hi Robby,

        I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your mother. It is never easy to lose anyone especially someone so close and important to us. Please allow yourself time to heal. It is only natural if your mind is stormy and restless.

        I would like to offer some of my humble opinion on the matter and hopefully you can find something helpful.

        I think a lot of time in the Buddhist community, we have this idea that we must let go of all attachment as if a being with no feelings. In our world, this emotional attachment really does help us function and interact, it is the force that push us further as a species and civilization. I think it is quite okay to feel attached, especially to a close family member. It was said that even the Buddha himself felt sadness after the passing away of his two chief disciples Sariputra and Moggalana. Ananda too felt great sadness when Sariputra passed away and when the Buddha himself passed away. If the fully awakened one felt such sadness, it is perfectly alright for us to feel this sadness and attachment to the one we care for dearly.

        I think in our practice we just learn to accept things as they are and to be able to learn to let the pain of the past drift away.

        I don't know what the rest of treeleaf sangha's belief on rebirth is like, but since my background is in Pure Land Buddhism, I personally believe in some form of transcendental rebirth in the literal sense just us I believe Pure Land both metaphorically and literally. With that, I will keep your mother in prayers.

        Another thing you may want to consider is counselling. It isn't easy to witness the death of a family member, can be traumatizing. Sometimes it is even harder to move on or even cope with it. Counselling might be able to help a great deal in situation like this.

        I hope you the best and that may you and your family find peace.

        Metta
        Victor

        Comment

        • Hans
          Member
          • Mar 2007
          • 1853

          #5
          Hello Robby,

          it's me again

          Andy said one of the most important things in this context. Be good to yourself. I realise that this sentence maybe even doesn't make too much sense, but what it points to is not to judge oneself too harshly, to allow oneself and others space and to do things that may aid the process of coming to terms with the recent events.

          It takes time.

          Always.


          And it always hurts.


          Gassho,

          Hans Chudo Mongen

          Comment

          • Robby
            Member
            • Oct 2013
            • 4

            #6
            Hans,

            Thank you for the response. I have definitely grieved and let tears fall and I completely understand what you said about death being a reminder to live with integrity and honesty. I know that the healing process for me will most likely take years and I am walking that path. I guess I am just looking to begin accepting her death and celebrating that she lived rather than mourning her death.

            As for a further introduction, I don't really know what to say other than that I am a jazz musician studying music in college and I am an avid runner.

            Gassho

            Comment

            • Robby
              Member
              • Oct 2013
              • 4

              #7
              Thank you all for the responses.

              Comment

              • Myoku
                Member
                • Jul 2010
                • 1487

                #8
                Robby,
                I was with my mom when she died. But that was a natural death at high age. It hurt. It still does, three years after. How much more must it be for you. I believe all we can do, always, is to do what we can for those alive. This includes ourself. Sometimes we urge for a "solution" or a formula "what to do", but all we can do is going on with our life. I believe all things just take the time it takes, we cant make it faster, not really. We're all attached, I'm sure Jundo is, Taigu is. I certainly am attached more than I wish, and the wish to not be so attached is another attachment to a zen-superhero-image that simply is not true. I really cannot give a clever advice, but sitting zazen regularly is certainly what comes to my mind first. Take good care,
                Gassho
                Myoku

                Comment

                • Dosho
                  Member
                  • Jun 2008
                  • 5784

                  #9
                  Robby,

                  My sincerest condolences on your loss. There's really nothing anyone can say, no words that can take away the pain, no reasoning to be found for these events. As has been said, be good to yourself. We are always here.

                  Gassho,
                  Dosho

                  Comment

                  • Myosha
                    Member
                    • Mar 2013
                    • 2974

                    #10
                    Metta to all.


                    Gassho,
                    Myosha
                    "Recognize suffering, remove suffering." - Shakyamuni Buddha when asked, "Uhm . . .what?"

                    Comment

                    • alan.r
                      Member
                      • Jan 2012
                      • 546

                      #11
                      Originally posted by Robby
                      I guess I am just looking to begin accepting her death and celebrating that she lived rather than mourning her death.

                      As for a further introduction, I don't really know what to say other than that I am a jazz musician studying music in college and I am an avid runner.

                      Gassho
                      Hi Robby. Like others have said, I'm sorry for your loss - I can't imagine it, or even maybe better put, my imaginings can't come close to the reality. Though, I think I can understand wanting to, as you say, begin accepting her death and celebrating her life. I think that's a great thing, a great impulse. I would liken all this to zazen - isn't it so that, despite the fact that we are constantly told not to want too much, not to push too hard for the big enlightenment goal, not to force our zazen into a blissy or peaceful or calm place, or to put too much attention on getting kensho, isn't it true that we all do that sometimes? I think probably so, to some degree. I know I catch myself in those little traps. Maybe this is the same for you right now? Maybe it's that you think your Buddhist training should be kicking in, giving you that peace you believe should be there when we can see things, understand things like impermanence or non-attachment, etc? Please, I could be wrong, this is just what I see in your brief comments. I know, for myself, I'm deeply attached to my wife. If something were to happen to her, or if we somehow separated, because sometimes that's what happens in life, I know it would be extremely painful, and probably the only thing that Buddhism has taught me is that that feeling will pass in time. All the rest is uncertain. Be stormy, be restless, and like Hans and others have said, be easy on yourself. How do you proceed? You already are. You're here talking to us, and we're glad to talk and share.

                      Gassho
                      Shōmon

                      Comment

                      • Rich
                        Member
                        • Apr 2009
                        • 2587

                        #12
                        Having sat with grief for a long time, I should probably say something. First, everyone deals with grief differently and at their own pace. Grief counseling especially in a group can be very helpful. You realize that everyone at various points in their lives experiences grief. In the beginning of grief it's important to focus on taking good care of yourself with rest, diet and exercise.
                        With time grief subsides and softens but the love and memories of the departed remain.
                        The way to proceed is in the direction of life and taking care of self and others.
                        Opinions are useless. Just sit.



                        Kind regards. /\
                        _/_
                        Rich
                        MUHYO
                        無 (MU, Emptiness) and 氷 (HYO, Ice) ... Emptiness Ice ...

                        https://instagram.com/notmovingmind

                        Comment

                        • Mp

                          #13
                          Hello Robby,

                          I cannot give much more information that has not been shared, but I wish much metta to you and your family ... Loosing a family member is very hard, so please know we are here for you if you need.

                          Be kind with yourself and time will be your friend during this journey.

                          Deep bows
                          Shingen

                          Comment

                          • Myozan Kodo
                            Friend of Treeleaf
                            • May 2010
                            • 1901

                            #14
                            Hi Robby.
                            Brutal, heart breaking reality. Life never the same again. But life still possible. Only you will know how. With love and support.
                            Myozan


                            Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

                            Comment

                            • Entai
                              Member
                              • Jan 2013
                              • 451

                              #15
                              Hi Robby,
                              I'm sorry for your loss. I think the only advice I can give is to allow yourself to feel whatever you need to feel. There are no wrong feelings. Much metta to you and your family.

                              Gassho,
                              Entai

                              泰 Entai (Bill)
                              "this is not a dress rehearsal"

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