Buddha grief

August 2, 2017

deep-griefThe 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.

18 comments on “Buddha grief
  1. The deeper you love the deeper you know you’ll eventually grieve – but it’s worth it isn’t it for all those years of investment and connection. I wouldn’t forego love to avoid grief – it’s all part of the cycle of life (even though we don’t like the pain!)

  2. Diana says:

    I do not grieve, I miss.
    I take the view that the soul is eternal and so my loved one has just passed over to another dimension. But I do miss the person who is no longer in my life. Their physicality, their personality, the love they showed.

  3. Carol I’ve been feeling anticipatory loss much more lately. I’m not sure if it is because I’m turning 60 (which in itself doesn’t bother me) and I lost my mother, father and brother all in their early to mid 60s so I wonder will I only have a few more years? OR I feel the anticipatory loss of my husband who is 70 next year. I suppose I am facing the fact that there are less years left than went before. I’m usually very positive but sometimes this feeling can be overwhelming. Thank you so much for your post which helped. xx

  4. Gaurav kumar says:

    I must admit here that I do not grief because I know that the death is inevitable. Still I miss those who have been part of my life.

  5. I think grief can really blindside people most when they feel that they took the relationship for granted and never said what they now feel they should have said. Human nature is just that way I guess, hence the saying ‘you never know what you have until it is gone’. Nice and thoughtful post.

  6. Jeenu Pillai says:

    So true, the more you love, the more you grieve. I cannot refute this. This holds true is every sense. Thank you for sharing this beautiful quote.

  7. Ania Travels says:

    I would never forego love because of grief. I know I will miss tremendously and death is inevitable. We have to stay postitve and keep those people in our minds, it’s also helpful to think about what they would have wanted.

  8. I spent my late high school years exploring Buddhism and I felt so moved and inspired by reading many of the teachings. I grew up with Roman Catholic teachings and felt that Buddhism opened my mind in new and interesting ways.

  9. Michelle says:

    We live and we die. It’s inevitable. Still, I wouldn’t give up my loved ones just so I wouldn’t feel grief. I can only hope for anyone grieving that they will have a good support system to help them cope.

  10. hal says:

    I’m the probably the worst person to deal with grief in the way people want me to..in terms of showing it..i just accept things and that it is inevitable – I’m more of a contemplation kind of person – if i lived in walking distance of a coastal beach area..id probably sit down and reflect a few times a week…- not sure if that buddha like

  11. Cameron says:

    Beautifully said. And I totally agree – I actually wrote something similar last month (great minds think alike!).

  12. To me the thinking that connection is a gift with a cost is kind of sad. Certainly we can lose something but it shouldn’t be thought of as cost benefit. That just seems so sad.

  13. Jennifer L says:

    It is very true that loss is part of life. It doesnt mean that it lessens the pain of that loss, but like you mentioned…we keep on loving even with the knowledge that there is a price in a sense to that love. Really great food for thought

  14. Kallia says:

    Loss comes hand in hand with life. How can you possibly appreciate the good parts of your life and love them even more, if you don’t know one day they will be gone?

  15. London mumma says:

    Grief is an emotion we all must fee! To feel is to be human after all.

  16. Kumin Kueche says:

    The more and deep you love, the more you grief!! although we know that loss is part of lif, but still the human nature can’t control emotions when it comes to losing someone!!

  17. This is all great to use as advice. I love the Buddhist teachings, I have read the dhammapada for many years.

  18. Elizabeth O says:

    Beautiful and great thoughts! It is amazing to realize the beauty of life. You become more inspired and motivated.

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