The Buddhists can be a little grim. I don’t subscribe completely to their view of life. But I did see this beautiful quote about grief that anyone who has felt the emotion will appreciate.
“If grief is deep and imponderable, it is because love is deep and imponderable, too.
The world presents us with opportunities for connection, and the flip side of these is the impermanence of opportunity…
The Buddha taught that at bottom, the more we love that which we lose,
the more grief we feel. The world is living and dying, full of birth and loss,
tragedy and change. It is “first truth” that runs like a tragic thread, through all of our lives.”
-Buddhist Teacher Michael Stone’s community
There’s a lot here, so let’s break it down.
How many of us would forego connection if we knew that we’d lose that person? If we all did that, no one would get a pet.
Sure, we know we’ll lose everyone one day, but it’s not something we think much about. So when it happens, it can almost blindside us, even if we knew it would be sooner rather than later.
Connection is a gift with a cost
Here, we’re told that in return for the gift of connection, we must accept the impermanence of everything. This is, perhaps, the hardest thing we’re asked to do in life. Because connection–parent/child, lovers, friends, siblings–connection feels so good. It’s beautiful. We don’t want to lose it.
But we will. And on that, the Buddhists and I agree.
Remember the saying that grief is the price we pay for love? That’s what this quote is saying, too. If we feel deep grief, it’s because we felt deep love for that which we’ve lost.
This kind of loss and change is the way of the world.
Walking the path of loss
When I look at the photograph of my beloved friend every day, I’m struck by the loss of her. How I can’t call her and share my life the way I used to. I won’t pretend it’s not hard. But I will say that I have accepted it, simply because there is nothing else to do. There are no other options. Sure, I could rail against the fates, but it won’t bring her back.
At this age, I’ve begun to feel anticipatory grief, because I know certain losses are coming, if not this year, in a year not too far in the future. I try not to focus too much on that, even as I try to prepare myself, knowing full well that we can never fully prepare ourselves for loss and we are never ready for it when it comes.
I think often of a friend who lost his soulmate and others who have lost their children. “I thought we would have more time,” is something I’ve both said and heard. It’s what we all think because we can’t entertain this deeply sad part of life.
I think about grief because it’s a fact of life. And having experienced the heartbreak of loss, I know that there is no way around grief, only through it. We must walk the path and the truth is we walk that path alone.
And that’s why the death of my beautiful friend and my parents — and my deep grief– inspired me to create products to help people honor their grief, and then, to put them together in condolence gift packages.
If you haven’t looked at them, I hope you will. Because loss is universal and so is grief. And while we all walk that path alone and we can’t make it better for another or even ourselves, we can allow ourselves to feel and to let it out. To express it. And in time, to watch it transform until all that’s left is pure love.