I shared these thoughts at an online memorial that I facilitated recently.
“Thich Nhat Hahn, the Vietnamese Zen Master, has observed, in his beautiful simple way, that there is, “No death, no birth, only transformation.” Similarly, grief invites us to experience that our relationship with the person that we are grieving has not come to an end, but rather to witness that is transforming. Denied now the ability to interact with their physical form we have no option when death visits us but to relate only with their essence, what Almaas calls the ‘pearl’ that each individual represents.
In the process of grieving I have found for myself that remembering is often not an active process, it is not something that I need to ‘do’. Rather re-membering happens all by itself.
We’re reminded of our loved one in a few bars of music, when we eat food that they enjoyed, when we see a smile like theirs. We find that we are also re-minded by the soft touch of the wind, the haunting beauty of a sunset, when we wake innocent in the morning and remember – all over again and oh-so-painfully – that their body is no longer on this earth like ours is. A mentor of mine recently said to me that when he is look for wisdom he reaches for the dictionary first and I love the etymology of the word re-membering. It implies that that a creative process is taking place within us during each of these moments. Our relationship with our loved one is being refashioned in a new and different way now. Our new relationship with them, their essence and the qualities they embodied is no longer one of duality, but ultimately of unity. The essence of our loved one can and does live within you now and increasingly, without our having to do anything about this, their essence becomes re-membered as part of us.
To walk this path, to accept grief’s invitation, it helps if we can keep our heart open but this is challenging. In our wider context too right now, I think that the question that is being posed to all of us is whether we stay open? Can we stay with our feelings, all of them, in these times? This invitation has never been more pertinent than now, when the world’s grief is so raw and so evident. Are we willing to keep our hearts open?
Can you allow your relationship with your loved one to be re-membered such that you take them back into the world with you after this gathering in a way that the qualities that they embodied, that are in you too, will shine through your body and your being even more powerfully now? Will you allow grief to move through you and do its transformative work? Will you say yes? Today, here in this service, and in the many moments of re-membering hereafter?
This, ultimately, is healing. This, I believe, is wholeness. This, undoubtedly, is love. Thank you.”
26 May 2020