Thursday, July 19, 2012

Another Wave of Grief

I thought I was pretty much done, with grieving my mom. 

I was wrong. Last night, a wave came rolling in, as I let myself feel the whole extent of our conversation earlier that morning. The bitter sweetness in my mom's voice. She is slipping away, fast. Not singing like she did a few weeks ago, and barely responding when I try to entice her with her familiar tune. She has even forgotten to ask as she always did, 'when are you coming?'

It hit me.

I know grief is nothing else but clinging in its most extreme form, a denial of the reality of life and death, a desperate clinging to what cannot be had. I hear in my head the Buddha's admonition to Ananda:

"Enough, Ananda! Do not grieve, do not lament! For have I not taught from the very beginning that with all that is dear and beloved there must be change, separation, and severance? Of that which is born, come into being, compounded, and subject to decay, how can one say: 'May it not come to dissolution!'? There can be no such state of things. Now for a long time, Ananda, you have served the Tathagata with loving-kindness in deed, word, and thought, graciously, pleasantly, with a whole heart and beyond measure. Great good have you gathered, Ananda! Now you should put forth energy, and soon you too will be free from the taints."

This morning, nothing to do, but feel the feeling in the body, in the heart, and let it unfold, with great compassion. Just another wave . . . 


  1. " All that is subject to arising is subject to ceasing and is not self." Ajahn Sumedho
    These words always remind me of the way life is and when people close to me have died they have been a comfort.

  2. Your feelings are so well described, easy to identify with, moving and touching. May the waves of grief strengthen the roots of love.

  3. I am reminded of something I read recently in The Sun magazine. It was spoken about "love", but I really think it applies to grief as well. I could be wrong, but here goes:

    "Humans are deeply emotional beings. We don't rationalize our way into love; we fall...; we get swept away." ~ Ran Ortner

  4. And this too shall pass... Holding you in my heart...with all good blessings.

  5. Michael, Lori (dharmadancer), thank you. Yes, the awareness and knowledge of impermanence is a great comfort when down in the wave. Thank you for extending your care! WIth metta. M

  6. JDB, thank you. And yes, grief always so close to love, at least our common version of love, love ridden with clinging . . .

  7. anopensky, yes allowing the wave to come in and 'sweep me' away, and watching with patience, and great kindness . . . Thank you for sharing the quote. Waves like these are a great opportunity to practice.

  8. Marguerite, your post is, as always, honest, open, filled with insight and empathy. Your sweet and sad words sent me back to this Tao passage-

    If you open yourself to loss
    you are at one with loss
    and you can accept it completely.

    Open yourself to the Tao,
    then trust your natural responses;
    and everything will fall into place.

    Sending strong thoughts. Tom

  9. Oh! thank you, Tom for your kind words.

    And agree with you that it is not the grief itself that is the problem, but rather how we are with it.

  10. Dear Marguerite,

    When people are sick or dying, we chant a dharani, which basically means "magic invocation"
    I thought these sounds my help you:

    10 verse Kannon gyo

    Kanzenon we venerate Buddha
    all are one with Buddha
    Buddha, Dharma, Sangha
    Eternal selfless and pure
    Through out the day, Kanzeon!
    Through out the night, Kanzeon!
    This moment springs from mind
    This moment itself is mind!

    Big bow,


  11. Thank you Aj. Almost a week after I wrote this post, my mother is finding new life again, surprising me once more. This moment . . . and going with the ebbs and flows of grief from Alzheimer's.