There is an old story that goes like this: A mother cradling her dead baby in her arms pleads with the Holy Man to restore life to her child. In response, the Holy Man asks her to come with him to visit all the homes in the village to ask the people if they have ever loved anyone who has died. Every last person answers YES.
I find this parable deeply touching because the experience of it helps the mother to understand that Death is all pervasive, that it happens to all of us. It is not an event that is singled out as ‘sometimes happens to particular or unlucky people’, or just to me, but it’s an experience that will eventually impart its truth to all of us. Where there is the gift of Life, there is also the gift of Death on Earth.
Pondering the universal reality of living on Earth has helped me deal with the overwhelming grief I’ve experienced in losing people I have loved. I have sat with the truth that Death is something that happens on a much greater scale than just in my own personal and limited life. I believe taking the time to bask in this realisation (while looking up at the great wide starry sky..) can really tame the terrible sting of loss after a death.
In the story of the heartbroken mother, she opened up to her sorrows and started talking about death with the Holy Man who then shared it with the whole village. When one person opens up and starts talking about a taboo, eventually others follow the lead, and the taboo becomes normalised and speakable because an awareness is created that essentially we are all experiencing the same thing. This diffuses the ‘problem’ and it’s harder to focus on the ‘why me’ when the field has opened up to include all humans.
We are born, we suffer, we find joy and love, we die. The problem which feels so personal becomes more manageable when we fathom the universal reality that it is just another part of the human condition. Eventually we all come to understand that the enormity of loss rests on everyone, not just ourselves.