Anyone who has had the challenging task of coping with unexpected loss knows what Ram Dass once called “the screaming trumpets of rage, grief, horror and desolation.”
Millions of us have faced the sudden loss of loved ones during this pandemic. It seems almost too much to bear. Some have experienced so much loss within their circle that they can’t grieve hard enough. Others have lost loved ones to suicide, other diseases, crime. So much loss.
So when I heard these words, I knew I had to share them in the hope that they provide, if not comfort, a framework for viewing this kind of loss.
In Fierce Grace, a 2003 documentary on Ram Dass’ life, a couple who had lost their 11-year old daughter (“R”) suddenly and tragically shared a letter he’d written them. It was so impactful and could help so many I wanted to transcribe it for you here. This is his letter:
“R finished her brief work on earth and left the stage in a manner that leaves those of us left behind with a hole in our hearts… Is anyone strong enough to stay conscious through such teachings as you are receiving?
“…I can not assuage your pain with any words. Nor should I, for your pain is her legacy to you. Not that she or I would inflict such pain by choice but there it is and it must burn its purifying way to completion.
“You may emerge from this ordeal more dead than alive, for something in you dies when you bear the unbearable… and it is only in that dark night of the soul that you are prepared to see as God sees and love as God loves.
“”Now is the time to let your grief find expression: no false strength. Now is time to sit quietly and speak to her, and thank her for being with you, and encourage her to go on with her work, knowing you will grow in compassion and wisdom from this experience.
“In my heart, I know that you will meet again and again and recognize the many ways in which you have known each other. And when you meet you will, in flash, know what now, is not even to you to know, why this had to be the way it was.
“Your rational minds can never understand what has happened, but your hearts, if you can keep them open to God, will find their own intuitive way
“R came through you to do her work on earth which included her manner of death. Now her soul is free and the love that you can share with her is invulnerable to the winds of changing time and space.”
Powerful, isn’t it? A few things to remember:
We can not assuage someone’s grief and we shouldn’t try to, nor should we expect them to stop expressing their grief in any way they need to before they are ready. It can only do its own purifying work and burn itself into a transformative experience that is different for everyone.
If we let it, grief can show us how to see as God sees and love as God loves. For me, this is the most important transformation grief can bring.
We can only thank our loved one for enriching our lives and consider ourselves lucky to have had them for the time we did. So yes, talk to them!
You will meet again. I wish I could express every single way I have come to believe this is true. We only know what we can see and touch here on earth with our physical senses. But there is so much more. As humans on earth we have no frame of reference for this, except for the spiritual. And while I do not for a minute think we float around on clouds playing harps, I do know that we are spiritual beings having a human experience, as Ram Dass once said. If we can really take this in, it’s life-changing.
Finally, love never dies. It’s invulnerable to what we know of space and time.
I hope this provided some food for feeling (not thought, because we feel our way through these things, don’t we?). If you’d like more support for processing grief, I hope you will look at A Guided Journal through Grief and our Transforming Grief affirmation cards, both found right here. They have helped so many and can also help you. Or someone you love.