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Dealing with grief - Dhamma Wheel

Dealing with grief

Casual discussion amongst spiritual friends.
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Kokoro
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Joined: Mon Dec 07, 2009 9:36 pm
Location: Ontario, Canada

Dealing with grief

Postby Kokoro » Wed Jan 25, 2012 10:28 pm

Hello.

I may but posting this in the wrong forum but I don't know where else to go, and I'd like to have feedback from other Buddhists rather than Christians (nothing against Christians, just I'm not one).

Last month, on the 28th of December, my girlfriend died. She was only 21 at the time and her death was very sudden and unexpected. I had only been with her a couple of months up until then so I know it's not the same as if we'd been married for years but I still feel like I've been hit by a train. I've been listening to Ajahn Brahm's lectures and I've been doing my best to celebrate her life rather than mourn her death but it's still so difficult.

We had met around October and started going out in November. By the end of the year I was telling people that I'm going to propose. I just had not yet met her parents and I wanted to get to know her family a bit more before I went for it and popped the question, although I had already made up my mind about it. I felt like I had found the woman I was looking for. She wanted everything in life that I wanted, and despite being in my life so briefly, we could communicate with each other just by looking into each other's eyes. I had never felt so loved by anyone in my life.

Anyway, I've been looking at grief groups in my area but they're all Christian based and held in Churches. I'd like to talk to someone with a Buddhist view. I keep telling people around me that I'm fine but I'm not. It's not very Buddhist of me I know, but I feel so broken and hurt that I've come dangerously close to trying to numb myself by drinking or using drugs, and I'm normally very good about keeping that precept.
If this is the wrong place for this, can someone please direct me to a place where I can talk to someone? Is there anyone else here who has gone through something similar?

I keep telling myself I only knew her for a couple of months so I shouldn't be so devistated by her death but there doesn't seem to be anything I can do that will help. This Saturday will mark one month's passing since her death and I feel today like I did the day she died. The only difference is I've become better at making it look like I'm okay so people at work won't feel so uncomfortable around me. I can't keep this mask on forever though. Eventually it will fall off and I don't know what to do when it does. Any words of advice would be greatly appreciated.

Metta.

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Ben
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Location: kanamaluka

Re: Dealing with grief

Postby Ben » Wed Jan 25, 2012 10:42 pm

Greetings Kokoro,

I am sorry for the loss of your girlfriend and the pain you are going through. I lost both my parents and an older sibling - but that was some time ago. I know first hand that the experience of grief is intensely isolating.

Firstly, I recommend that you consider seeking the services of a counsellor or psychotherapist. Grief is a normal reaction to the death of a loved one. And a counsellor or psychotherapist will provide you with someone to talk to and help you process your grief in a healthy manner. If you have access to a teacher or a sangha, then they maybe able to give you instruction, dhamma teaching and noble companionship during this time. I also recommend that you continue with your practice and not let it drop. Let the Dhamma be your anchor during these difficult times.
Wishing you the very best,

Ben
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

(Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • •

e: [email protected]..

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mirco
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Joined: Mon Jun 07, 2010 2:12 pm

Re: Dealing with grief

Postby mirco » Wed Jan 25, 2012 10:55 pm

Well, one thing that it starts with, I think, is to help others (dana). That will turn the attention away from the pondering on more sorrows. It helps to open up the heart. Care for somebody, help someone every day (even animals work out).

Then personal behaviour in daily life is important. If one manages to keep the precepts (sila), mind will start to calm down.

"An important term for meditative absorption is samadhi. We often translate that as concentration, but that can suggest a certain stiffness. Perhaps unification is a better rendition, as samadhi means to bring together. Deep samadhi isn't at all stiff. It's a process of letting go of other things and coming to a unified experience." -

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Kokoro
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Joined: Mon Dec 07, 2009 9:36 pm
Location: Ontario, Canada

Re: Dealing with grief

Postby Kokoro » Wed Jan 25, 2012 10:57 pm

Thank-you. I absolutely will see about talking to a counsellor. As far as a teacher is concerned, I can't seem to find any where I live, but I have already been provided with quite a few names of teachers who interact with students online from some very kind people. Thank-you everyone who sent me a message so quickly with resources. I didn't expect such a response so fast! I will make use of the information provided. Thank-you again.

With great appreciation, respect, and Metta.

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mirco
Posts: 448
Joined: Mon Jun 07, 2010 2:12 pm

Re: Dealing with grief

Postby mirco » Wed Jan 25, 2012 11:25 pm

There is only one truth about feelings:They are.

But I know that, I constantly try to think or act my feelings away. Seemingly, that does not work out.
They keep coming back until I accept them. Then there is a chance for them to come to an end.

By the way, I lost my mum when I was twelve, which was terrible and traumatic.
And there are still leftovers from that, even 23 years later.

All that because I want the present moment to be other than it is.
"An important term for meditative absorption is samadhi. We often translate that as concentration, but that can suggest a certain stiffness. Perhaps unification is a better rendition, as samadhi means to bring together. Deep samadhi isn't at all stiff. It's a process of letting go of other things and coming to a unified experience." -

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Kokoro
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Joined: Mon Dec 07, 2009 9:36 pm
Location: Ontario, Canada

Re: Dealing with grief

Postby Kokoro » Wed Jan 25, 2012 11:50 pm

Thank-you. I will take your advice on dana. It would also serve as a tribute to my girlfriend, because she was an advocate of helping others and giving. I think the hardest part for me is feeling like I'm letting her down, because I know she would not want me to hurt so much. She was an eternal optimist who could see the hidden blessings in the most dire of situations. Her smile was so contagious that, in seeing it, no matter how stressful your day was up until that point, you couldn't help but smile along with her. That reminds me, is it unhealthy for me to keep her picture on my phone and my computer? My desktop wallpaper and phone background are pictures of her with a big smile on her face. I like looking at them but am I forming an unhealthy attachment for myself by keeping them up?

Metta

dhamma_newb
Posts: 307
Joined: Sat Dec 31, 2011 6:36 am

Re: Dealing with grief

Postby dhamma_newb » Thu Jan 26, 2012 12:47 am

Hi Kokoro,

I am sorry for your loss. I do not know what you're going through but I've dealt with major depression and suicidal feelings in my past, so although my situation was different from yours, I can empathize. I think Ben gave you excellent advice.

One book that really helped me through a rough period was by Russell Harris, a psychotherapist from Australia. Although it is not a Buddhist book, it deals with some elements of Buddhism such as mindfulness of thoughts and feelings and being able to let go. I've tried to attach the PDF for chapters 1 & 2 but the file was too large so here is the link: . It's not available yet in the US as a hardcopy but Amazon is selling it as an . I'm not sure of it's availability elsewhere.

My heart goes out to you. Take care of yourself.

Metta,
Don
The watched mind brings happiness.
Dhp 36

I am larger and better than I thought. I did not know I held so much goodness.
Walt Whitman

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Khalil Bodhi
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Re: Dealing with grief

Postby Khalil Bodhi » Thu Jan 26, 2012 1:11 am

Kokoro,

You have my deepest sympathy. I think it's important that you not try to rationalize away your feelings but that you do address them with the help of a counselor or therapist. I'm not qualified to give you advice but I do want you to know that I am here and available for you to talk to via PM, chat or email if you ever feel the need. I commend you for looking for help to deal with this and wish you all the best. Bhavatu sabba mangalam rakkhantu sabba devata. Mettaya. :heart:

Mike
To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one's mind — this is the teaching of the Buddhas.
-Dhp. 183

Uposatha Observance Club:
My Practice Blog:

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cooran
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Location: Queensland, Australia

Re: Dealing with grief

Postby cooran » Thu Jan 26, 2012 6:46 am

Hello Kokoro,

I would like to offer my deepest sympathy for your unexpected and sudden loss. I support the suggestion to contact a Loss and Grief Counsellor to help you work through this tragedy.

This might be of interest:
Grief and the Mindfulness Approach - Death, Dying and Bereavement Counselling by Malcolm Huxter
http://www.buddhanet.net/psygrief.htm

with metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

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JeffR
Posts: 228
Joined: Fri Nov 20, 2009 3:54 am
Location: Minnesota, USA

Re: Dealing with grief

Postby JeffR » Sat Jan 28, 2012 5:22 am

Hi Kokoro,

I lost my little brother suddenly and unexpectedly 22 years ago. He was 22. Lots of people talk about celebrating their life, etc. I think that's crap. Sure it's well and good to celebrate their life, but we must acknowledge how we feel. It's okay to feel like you've been run over by a truck and had a ton of bricks dropped on you and however else you feel. That's all normal. Be mindful of and acknowledge your mental formations, then let them pass on their own.

Don't expect to "get over it", being mindful of your feelings and treating them with equanimity; you will soon enough deal with those mind constructs skillfully.

As for a teacher, I notice you are from Ontario. There is a good monk living at Arrow River Hermitage in Ontario, I visit him regularly. Arrow River is located near Thunder Bay, but most of the supporters and visitors hail from the Toronto area (as do most people living in Ontario).



Grief is normal, be mindful with it.

-Jeff

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Kokoro
Posts: 43
Joined: Mon Dec 07, 2009 9:36 pm
Location: Ontario, Canada

Re: Dealing with grief

Postby Kokoro » Sat Jan 28, 2012 6:54 am

Thank you to everyone who has posted, sent kind messages, or sent a kind thought or metta in my direction. I am very grateful to all of you.

Jeff, yes I am familiar with Ajahn Punnadhammo! As a matter of fact, he was the first Theravada Bhikkhu I began learning from, mainly by following his blog. It was through his blog and the Arrow River website, that I came to learn about the Thai Forest Tradition and the Venerable Ajahn Chah, which further lead me to a Bhikkhu I have become a great supporter of, Ajahn Brahm. I consider these three Venerable Ajahns to be three great teachers, and I keep photos of them in my home.

I have considered visiting Arrow River for a number of years now. Perhaps now would be a good time to make a sincere effort in that regard.

Thanks again everyone. I can't begin to express properly my gratitude.

With respect and metta.

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JeffR
Posts: 228
Joined: Fri Nov 20, 2009 3:54 am
Location: Minnesota, USA

Re: Dealing with grief

Postby JeffR » Sat Jan 28, 2012 3:53 pm

Now would be a good time to do a retreat or work as steward for spell if you're not ready for a retreat. I hear that the hermitage is not very busy and there is plenty of room.


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