Thom is often asked if Buddhist meditation on death and impermanence can help someone to move through the pain of grief after losing a loved one. While Thom feels that guided meditation on death is not necessary, meditation itself can be a balm.
When a loved one passes on, it’s natural to grieve their departure. We’re familiar with our experiences with them in the physical realm, and our option to commune with them at will through the physical body has ended.
Stress and suffering come from inaccurate expectations or changed expectations. If we expect to have this person around and suddenly they are gone – we are shocked. Suffering commences when we hold on to the expectation we had before they passed, that they would be around much longer. We can, however, make the grieving process efficient and move through it quickly.
While it is not necessary to meditate on death daily, Thom recommends 2 steps to move through grief quickly and lessen the suffering we experience in the process.
1. Gain Knowledge of Grief, Life, and Death
This step applies to grieving of any kind, whether you’re grieving the death of a loved one, the arising of an experience you didn’t want for yourself or someone else, or the ending of a season of life that you enjoyed.
Knowledge eliminates grief, fear, and suffering.
Grief Over Changes in Circumstances
Taking the time to gain correct knowledge of the source of grief and the nature of death will offer a less self-centered perspective than the one that grief offers.
As we continually follow charm into new relationships and circumstances and away from those that don’t serve us, we may find ourselves giving up experiences that we enjoyed. Though emotions are natural, the knowledge that nature has brought change can help us take responsibility for our response. It may be that the change was appropriate for our evolution or for the evolution of a broader community.
Continuing to resist the change or ignore the emotions of grief will lead to suffering and self-centered attitudes.
Grief Over Loved Ones Who Pass On
When it comes to loved ones who have left their bodies behind, Thom recommends 2 books to gain knowledge and perspective on their experience as well as our own.
- Consciousness Beyond Life, The Science of the Near-Death Experience By Pim van Lommel
- Life After Death: The Burden of Proof by Deepak Chopra
This leads us to the second step to move through grieving quickly…
2. Inquire Into Your Loved Ones Experience After Leaving Their Body
Though sadness is natural when a loved one departs, an effective antidote to long grief is to gain knowledge and insight into your loved ones’ changing experiences.
They are no longer in their body, so what are they experiencing? Is it freeing? Is it the most appropriate expression of their soul at present? Is it blissful for them?
Taking our focus off of our experience and leaning into what theirs might open us up to a whole new perspective on their journey: perhaps they are expressing and experiencing exactly what they wanted, and exactly what you would want for them.
Thom gives a hopeful perspective on grief and grieving in this video. He covers:
- How fight or flight causes an incorrect response to the grieving process
- How to transcend a self-centered grieving process
- A Vedic perspective on death, and how knowledge of it can shorten the grieving process
Death is Not Real
The most hopeful knowledge to discover is that death is only an experience of the living – we perceive death around us when souls change form. But do they experience death? There is no evidence that they do.
Thom’s podcast episode on this topic, Death Is Not Real, may give you the perspective and hope that nothing has been lost in the process of leaving one’s body. Instead, the transition into an unbounded state is something for loved ones to celebrate.
Jai Guru Deva
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