Coping with Grief and Loss

Book Preview: A Matter of Life and Death

The greatest mystery in life is not life itself, but death. 
Death is the culmination and "blossoming" of life, it is the "ultimate" mystery of life. In death, the whole of one's life is summed up; in death you complete life's journey. Life is simply a pilgrimage and journey towards death. From the very moment of your birth, the process" of dying starts; already you are moving towards death. And the greatest calamity that has happened to human intelligence is that we are in denial about death. Being in denial about the reality of death means you will miss life's greatest mystery. You will miss the whole point of having lived. You will miss the "true" meaning and purpose of life itself, because life and death are deeply involved with each other; they are not two separate phenomena. The journey and the goal are not separate--the journey has meaning only in relationship to the goal.

Death has to be understood as the "crescendo" of life. 
Only then does a new vision of the meaning and purpose of one's life arises. Then you are no longer in denial about death, no longer afraid of dying. Your understanding of death liberates you from all of your fears and anxiety. Once death has been fully understood, deeply contemplated and meditated on, nothing can frustrate you. The whole problem of personal misery and suffering is rooted in our fear and denial of death. Because we do not accept the inevitability of our death and dying, there are a thousand and one problems that go on nagging and disturbing our peace of mind.

Anything which reminds us of the facts about death and dying has to somehow be avoided and escaped. Those things frighten and deeply disturb us. However, all of those things are just reminders of death. The real thing will be far more terrifying for such an "unprepared" mind. And remember, death cannot be avoided by anyone. Death is going to happen to everyone--whether you are afraid or not is irrelevant. Death comes and always comes unsuspectingly. Ready or not, it comes. And death comes in many ways. When you die, that is only one form of death. When your mother or father dies, when your son, husband or anyone close to you dies, that is also like a death to you. They have been an intricate part of your being, and when he or she dies, a part of you also dies. You will be losing a part of your own "self' and you will never be the same. So it is not only in your death that death comes; whenever anyone you love dies, death knocks at your door, too! And unless you are prepared, you will be simply overwhelmed and deeply depressed.

This is my message to you: Start learning how to prepare yourself for your death and the death of your loved ones. Learn how to not be afraid and overwhelmed. Try to understand that your "existence" renews itself through the process of death. Just as after each day you need deep sleep in the night to rejuvenate and renew yourself, to make yourself fresh and robust again, in the same way after each life you need a new body, a new mind, a new manifestation of being. Death is as meaningful as life. They are both different aspects of the same "divine" process of eternal existence. Death is as divine as life. They complement and balance each other, and the whole "mystery" of existence continues because of them. Understanding this, is to become "enlightened."

Leonard Ingram
February 1997

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