Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Posts Tagged ‘be kind to the grieving

Buddha’s Advice for the Grieving (An Apocryphal Story)

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Folks, it’s that time of year again. It’s the holiday season, and as I’ve written before, here and here, it’s the time of the year when grieving people feel the most alone and misunderstood.

We feel isolated, you see. And that sense of isolation gets worse when you hear all the festive music, see all the twinkling holiday lights…so many people are bustling around buying gifts, you’d think that was the only reason anyone ever had to celebrate Hanukkah, the Winter Solstice, Christmas, or any other celebration save Festivus.

For some reason tonight, I was thinking about a story my late husband Michael told me about Gautama Buddha. (Michael was a Zen Buddhist.) This is in my best paraphrase, and does not come from a holy text — but I hope it will prove enlightening despite its apocryphal nature.

A distraught woman came to the Buddha and said, “I feel terrible. I grieve so much — surely there is some place on this Earth where people don’t hurt like this? Teach me, Buddha.”

And the Buddha is said to have told her, “I cannot give you this answer. But if you go around the world, ask people about grief. Then come back and let me know; I want the answer, too.”

So the woman went around the world and asked if anyone had the answers.

What she found is that everyone grieved something. Whether it was the loss of a loved one, the loss of a beloved pet, the loss of opportunities, even the loss of jobs, everyone grieved about something.

So the woman went back to the Buddha and said, “I did not find anyone who does not grieve, Buddha. Now what?”

And the Buddha gently told her, “Daughter, that is your answer.”

You see, if we all realized that we all grieve, there would be more understanding in this world. And understanding is the key to peace, if not necessarily the key to happiness itself…and it is understanding, along with the love of friends and family, that can help you when you feel lost and alone due to grief.

That does not take the grief away, mind. Nothing can.

But if you can talk about it, if you can accept it, that is the first step toward peace during this fractious, difficult, and often frustrating holiday season.

So please, do what you can to talk with your family members this holiday season, even the difficult ones who suffer from grief, anxiety, frustration, angst…try to show them kindness, love, and support.

That, to my mind, is the best gift you can possibly give during this holiday season.

Please Remember Those Who Grieve During the Holidays

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Happy holidays, folks!

Whether you celebrate Hanukkah, Yule, Kwanzaa, or as more often is the case in the United States, Christmas, I hope you are celebrating the holidays as you see fit.

But I’d like to ask for a moment of your time amidst the merriment, because I want you to please remember those who grieve during the holidays. For those who’ve lost loved ones, whether they’re beloved spouses, parents, siblings, or friends, this time of year can be brutal.

We miss our loved ones so fiercely, you see. We want to talk about them. We want to remember what they said, what they did, how they laughed, and how they enjoyed the holidays because their lives mattered. Their vital, bright spirits were here for a reason, and they loved us…but now, they’re gone.

But never forgotten.

I’m not sure why it is, but in American society, many people don’t seem to know what to say to a widow. Or to someone who’s missing her father. Mother. Brother. Cousin. Special friend.

And when those important people are left out of the conversation, those who are missing their lost loved ones feel even more bereft than before.

God/dess is love, I firmly believe. And part of that love is to be kind to those who grieve, especially at this time of the year — and most especially with people who are enduring their first major holiday without their beloved family member(s) or friend(s).

So while you enjoy the holidays — and you should — please remember those who grieve. Talk with them about their loved ones, and what you remember about them. Make a point to say to them that you care, that you haven’t forgotten, either, and that it’s important to remember the love they shared with us.

Because it helps. (Really.)

Written by Barb Caffrey

December 24, 2014 at 4:47 am