Dear Still Water Friends,
The intention for our Night of Remembrance is to invite those among us who are grieving, especially those grieving fresh losses, to share from their hearts. What would we like the community to know or understand about our loved ones? What are we learning from our grief? What is the legacy of those we carry most tenderly, most raggedly in our hearts?
What’s most present for me this year is appreciation for family members who have died, gratitude for the opportunity to study and practice the Dharma, and for the inspiration and the teachings of my sangha.
When my sister Joanne died suddenly 20 years ago, I felt alone in my grief – a horrible aloneness that at the same time carried with it a glimpse of a heartfulness and connectedness that I had never experienced before.
This connectedness initiated me into a different way of being – a winding path that led to a suicide survivors’ support group, to new areas of study, to practicing the Dharma, to the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh, to Still Water MPC.
By the time my Dad died seven years ago I was a mindfulness practitioner and I understood my suffering differently. There was pain; at the same time, the gift that Thay calls “looking deeply” was more readily available to me. And I was able to share my feelings and my love for Dad with the sangha. That I was suffering from having “my” story interrupted, “my” life upended, “my” gentle, loving Dad taken from “me.” I saw how I resisted the reality of his death, the reality of my death.
My dad died died on the operating room table the day after his cardiac issues – well managed for nearly 40 years – became critical. My mother’s physical decline was much slower. She suffered a stroke and her life became more and more circumscribed. I think I was able to give her the gift of non-fear and to comfort both of us through loving kindness meditation and by synchronizing my breathing with hers.
I can’t recall if I actually sang the Plum Village meditation “No coming, no going/ No after, no before/ I hold you close to me/ I release you to be so free” but I know that, in my most mindful moments, that was the energy I was able to bring to the room
Please join us for this special community event and consider bringing a photo or a memento to place on the memorial table we will create at the center of our circle.
After our meditation period, we will share memories of our loved ones who have passed on.
- What would you like your Still Water siblings to know about your loved ones?
- What is the legacy of those you carry in your heart?
- How are you moving through your grief?
Below are three excerpts on moving through grief and loss.
Mary Beth Hatem
The Art of Grieving
By Jessica McKimmie, from her blog Peace Through Grief
(She summarizes Thay’s advice, illustrating each point with a quotation from his teaching.)
“Once we understand the art of suffering, we will suffer less.”
1 Say Hello. “Hello, grief. I see you. I know your name. I am here for you.”
2 Take care of your grief. “I see clearly the object of my grief. I hold space in my heart for it.”
3 Look deeply. “I see where you’ve come from. The path that brought us together.”
4. Announce healing intent. “ I’m ready to find healing, peace, and joy again. With concentration, I will focus on this healing and liberate my grief.”
5. Let go. “I contemplate the nature of impermanence, that nothing remains unchanged over time. I release my grasp ever so slightly.”
Dealing with a Painful Loss
BeliefNet: For someone who is dealing with a painful loss or a personal fear of death but knows nothing about Buddhism or meditative technique, what do you recommend as way to begin to let go of fear and grief?
Thich Nhat Hanh: I think there’s a way of training ourselves in order not to become the victim of fear and grief — that is to look deeply into ourselves and to see that we are made of non-self elements. And when we look around ourselves, we can recognize ourselves in the non-self elements, like a father looking at his children can see himself in his children, can see his continuation in his children. So he is not attached to the idea that his body is the only thing that is him. He’s more than his body. He is inside of his body but he is also at the same [time] outside of his body in many elements. And if we have the habit of looking like that, we will not be the victim of our attachment to one form of manifestation, and we will be free. And that freedom makes happiness and peace possible.
Contemplation of No-Coming, No-Going
By Thich Nhat Hanh, from the Ceremony for the Deceased in Chanting from the Heart
This body is not me,
I am not limited by this body.
I am life without boundaries.
I have never been born,
and I have never died.
Look at the ocean and the sky filled with stars,
Manifestations from my wondrous true mind.
Since before time, I have been free.
Birth and death are only doors through which we pass,
sacred thresholds on our journey.
Birth and death are a game of hide-and-seek.
So laugh with me,
hold my hand,
let us say good-bye,
say good-bye, to meet again soon.
We meet today,
We will meet again tomorrow.
We will meet at the source every moment.
We meet each other in all forms of life.