Many issues of life can function as our teachers if we adopt an attitude of looking into them with the eagerness to understand what lies beyond the apparent. Reflection on the sorrow at losing a near and dear one can lead to a life of compassion.

As we all know, bereavement is indeed a hard thing to be met with equanimity. The general human psychology has not evolved to the point of facing this disturbance in a holistic way. People usually avoid discussions on the subject because those can be quite unpleasant. This avoidance only makes it worse and the fear gets pushed into the deeper layers of the mind. Thus people are unprepared when the thing does take place. Reflections on these matters can not only help us take the blow with some stability but understand what is wrong with the way we live. That understanding can enrich our relationships with people and make us lead a wholesome life. Only in that manner can we have lasting peace, not through religious beliefs or through depending on predetermined formulas.

What can help us uncover the basis for the sorrow in bereavement is the understanding of how our relationships are brought into being. Right from childhood our psychology is molded by the self-centered atmosphere in which human beings live. This engenders a situation where the “I” tries to use everything to its own end, including human beings. Thus its relationship to people is based on the image it has about them in terms of what it gets from them. This is the unfortunate utility-oriented approach which governs the general psychology. As a result, people become dependent on this kind of relationship for their emotional well-being. This dependence is one of the main causes for the feeling of being lost at the demise of a near and dear one.

The emotional attachment to a person is often mistaken for love. That kind of love is actually the love of the image that one builds of the other person. The presence of the other person merely serves to trigger the image that one has about that person; thereafter, we are with the image and not with the living entity that the other person truly is. To be alive to the other person is not possible if the image we have of the other person interferes. The alertness about how the image destroys the freshness of the contact can help us free ourselves from the image. Then, in spite of the mental habit, we can bring in sufficient awareness to meet the person directly and so, with an intensity. This intimate contact is true love. In that there will be no dependence and no ‘utility’ value. With such sacredness in relationship there will be no sadness at bereavement. This is so because when the person was alive there was a true contact with him or her. There will also be the feeling that we were not dealing merely with the image, the lifeless representative of the living person! Under that contact imbued with ‘aliveness’, compassion flows freely between the two. That is true love.

Being alive to a person makes us be alive also to everything else in life. The way we treat animals, the environment and even the so called inanimate things takes on freshness and our lives become enriched with deep feeling for everything. We would pay proper attention to our responsibilities. With that turn of mind, we would also bring our wonderment to the after-life. Learning something about what happens after we pass away from the Earth plane helps us a great deal in meeting the loss of a relative or a friend with equanimity. It also helps us have a feeling of sacredness for life per se and treat the present as more important than the past and future. In this connection, the messages from near death experiences give us abundant trust in life and in the after-life.

Many of you would have come across the article entitled Desiderata comprising a bunch of worldly advice by Max Ehrmann (Wikipedia). It is relevant here through the following lines from it:
“Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.”

The sudden misfortunes can be handled in a healthy way if we bring in self-awareness in our daily lives. The mental balance created by that contact with ourselves helps us deal with all aspects of life with a touch of sacredness. The website deals with related matters.

Author's Bio: 

Gopalakrishnan T. Chandrasekaran received his doctoral degree in Coastal Engineering from the North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC, USA in 1978. He served on the research and teaching faculty of the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, India, the North Carolina State University and the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research, Kuwait. Aside from his professional involvements, he was interested in the philosophic issues of life for the last forty years or so. This led him to the messages of Ramana Maharishi, Lao Tzu, J Krishnamurthy, UG Krishnamurthy, Nisargadatta Maharaj, Eckhart Tolle, Marcus Aurelius and similar Masters. His book "In Quest of the Deeper Self" is the outcome of his reflections on those and his wish to share the outcome with others. Gopalakrishnan is a member of the International Association for Near Death Studies, Durham, NC, USA. He lives with his family in Kodaikanal, a hill town in South India.