February 10, 2011

Student: My mother is dying and there’s all sorts of interesting and tragic family stuff going on. It’s amazing and heart-breaking all at once. So my question is: how might any of us deal most constructively with the loss of a loved one?

Michael: This must be so tough. While there’s no cure for the pain, the teaching points us in a clear direction when we’re in the middle of a storm: meet the situation with total relaxation, without leaning into the pain or avoiding it, and then participate fully from this place of surrender.

Student: That’s kind of what I’ve been doing, I think. It makes a difference in the experience. It’s like I’m clear about exactly what is happening and then I can deal with my feelings and the feelings of others more skillfully.

Michael: Every once in a while we’re reminded that this practice works. We almost don’t have a choice but to meet each situation with a deep honesty that helps guide us through whatever shows up.

Student: Exactly, and what’s odd is that I’m feeling like there’s this amazing perfection to the whole situation. With this sense of perfection comes this release from so much of what would have destroyed me not long ago. It doesn’t mean it’s comfortable, but something about the whole tragic situation seems like it’s here now to teach me and the rest of those who knew her that there is something more we need to learn.
For me, I’m reminded of how lucky I am to have an incredible family. There have been many tears, lots of reminiscing, and so many laughs, believe it or not. My family’s always been great about accepting each other’s quirks. And it’s been such a gift to simply being able to sit around together for long stretches of time in the hospital, just watching so many feelings fill the room.  I’m literally witnessing each of us react differently to mom’s dying and to the pain of finally letting go. It’s all been quite miraculous. In every case, it’s as if love has been invited into this heart more consciously and, as a result, into the lives and the relationships we share with each other. I’m guessing that this opening can only continue to extend itself as long as I don’t block it.

Michael: What you’re describing is our natural state. It’s what shows up when we live consciously from an undivided place.

Student: I’m so grateful for the teaching. I just keep getting reminded of how I have the strength, even at the death of my own mother, to allow for the full meeting of every precious moment. This heart is bursting with love.

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