When first receiving the news, there is the reeling and insistent NOooooooooooo! This cannot, NOT be! And depending on how much one’s psyche needs protecting for the time being, denial covers Death’s visit like a sugary smile in the face of company you feel obligated to entertain, but wish would leave as soon as possible.
But what if the person who has died was One who split you open with their Love–not love for their own sake, but Love that sincerely sees in you the living Christ? And because they challenged you to fearlessly see this internal Christ yourself, your life changed forever?
When this person’s death visits you, lift your eyes and ears and hands and feet as often as you can to the present moment. For this is where your heart-numbing pain will find them in their eternal home. Right here with you in the heart of God’s present I AM breath.
What practice do you use to step beyond your own egoic seeing? The ordinary psychological awareness you wake with each morning is the dimension responsible for the painful missing of that person’s physical presence walking the Earth. The slow relinquishment of this attachment to their form is what carves the contours and beauty of your own soul’s Grand Canyon, like the waters of the Colorado River removing layer upon layer of rock to create something new in the absence of what was.
Moving beyond the mind is where this One you miss will become united in your spirit in time. In addition to a bereavement group and/or counselor, finding a contemplative, meditative practice can be so helpful, especially in times like these.
Here is a prayer I have found immensely helpful:
Jesus, I give you my love that makes me lonely and cries out for the departed to return. Let the pain drive me to love those s/he/they loved and to do what was left undone. What would s/he/they do if still alive? Help me to love her/his/their lonely friends and to quite taking friends for granted without really sharing. Jesus, who needs the love that I can no longer give to the departed?
- See Jesus loving you. Ask Jesus to make your loved one to be present to you, in Jesus’ heart.
- Share with them all you are feeling, and what you wish you had said and done.
- See Jesus embrace your loved one and fill her/him/them with the life you wish you had given.
- See how they both want to love you too. Watch what Jesus says or does to you and how your loved one leads you to Jesus.
- Close with the Prayer of St. Francis* asking to be an instrument of the special peace your loved one brought when alive. See Jesus and your loved one smile and bless you as they go off together.
After Jesus departed from his friends, he knew they, too, would need some of his particular-ness to hold onto while they found their way to experiencing him in the Christ-ness in the world instead of the individual body to which they were accustomed. These are the words he gave to them:
“Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27
Friends, hold onto the particular-ness of your departed one lightly as you move through your grief with gentleness for yourself. S/he/they are now with God, who is as near to you as your very next breath. You just need to give yourself the skill and time needed to find your departed in a new way.
*Prayer of St. Francis
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace…
where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; for it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
—Above meditation and prayer are from Healing the Dying: Releasing People to Die by Mary Jane Linn, Dennis Linn, and Matthew Linn. (1979). Paulist Press.