Helping others with death...

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Helping others with death...

Postby ChangYuan » Wed Feb 03, 2010 3:59 pm

So, my wife's father is dying. All his years of alcoholism and neglect of his body have caught up to him, and his organs have started failing, rippling out from his liver. This has presented me with a very strange problem. I view death not as an ending, but as a new beginning; they, being a Catholic family, do not share that view, and there is a lot of sadness and such about. Has anyone gone through a situation like this, and can give me some advice on how to act? I feel like maybe I may seem like I just don't care to them, since I'm not all that emotional about it. I very much want to help my wife and her mother through this, but don't think this is really the time to start explaining some Buddhist viewpoints.
_/\_ Amituofo

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Re: Helping others with death...

Postby White Lotus » Wed Feb 03, 2010 5:42 pm

Dear Chang Yuan.

i know exactly how you feel, a form of detatchment that is unable to enter into the pain of the experience that your family are going through that makes you look like you dont care. i felt like this when my first grandfather died, but was too egotistical to care about what others felt at the time.

i guess that you can only be as supportive as you possibly can, helping out with funeral arrangements, paying some of the costs (or all). tell them that you are sorry that he has gone now, and remember his better qualities with compassion.

all you can do is love your wife. it was probably hard for you to have ever truly known your father in law because of his drinking. you need to be as supportive of her as you possibly can, because after all he was her father. be truthful and honest with her if she asks you why you are not in grief. falsehoods wont help.
have a heart to heart with your wife, if you get the chance. tell her that you feel guilty or uncomfortable that you do not share her grief. explain to her that it is because of your beliefs, and that you see hope for him in the future. i think honesty is the best policy. ask her if there is anything you can do for her. ask her how she feels about her father, is she angry, sorrowful, confused. what can you do. try to be sensitive, even if you dont share feelings of grief. go to the temple to pray for him in his 're-birth'. you dont have to tell your wife of these things. just do them.

love, white Lotus. xxx

if this advice seems inadequate, it is only because i have very little experience of loss in my own life. :consoling:
i truly hope that this advice helps you Chang.
in any matters of importance. dont rely on me. i may not know what i am talking about. take what i say as mere speculation. i am not ordained. nor do i have a formal training. i do believe though that if i am wrong on any point. there are those on this site who i hope will quickly point out my mistakes.
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Re: Helping others with death...

Postby Ngawang Drolma » Thu Feb 04, 2010 1:31 am

My advice might seem inadequate too, but I can only offer a few words. I'm sorry for this illness and pain, and the best you can do is offer much compassion to the family and be a support knowing how they'll suffer with grief. I'm glad that for you it's not so painful, and you're in a place to offer strength, clarity, and love with your understanding of death and compassion and suffering. Just listen to them, offer your compassion as medicine. This is my best advice I can think of and hope it helps somehow.

Best wishes to you and your family,
Laura
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Re: Helping others with death...

Postby KeithBC » Thu Feb 04, 2010 5:13 am

ChangYuan wrote:don't think this is really the time to start explaining some Buddhist viewpoints.

That is probably wise. As others have said, this is the time to focus on compassion.

However, if they ask why you are not as grief-stricken as they are, do not be afraid to answer them truthfully. Do not get defensive (even though the question may come in an accusatory manner). Rather, explain gently, as you told us, that you believe that death is a new beginning. It might give them some comfort in their grief, and it might plant a seed that bears fruit in the future.

Om mani padme hum
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Re: Helping others with death...

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Feb 04, 2010 5:39 am

Greetings ChangYuan,

ChangYuan wrote:I very much want to help my wife and her mother through this, but don't think this is really the time to start explaining some Buddhist viewpoints.

I think this is a very acute observation.

This is an opportunity to exhibit compassion and kindness, and to help those touched by the impending death cope, through your support. Your strength will rub off on them.

Metta,
Retro. :)
Live in concord, with mutual appreciation, without disputing, blending like milk and water, viewing each other with kindly eyes

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Re: Helping others with death...

Postby Dexing » Thu Feb 04, 2010 7:54 pm

ChangYuan wrote:I view death not as an ending, but as a new beginning; they, being a Catholic family, do not share that view, and there is a lot of sadness and such about.


I thought they do. And yet, they grieve over that?

Do they not trust their own beliefs?
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Re: Helping others with death...

Postby kirtu » Thu Feb 11, 2010 10:15 pm

I'm so sorry for your wife's family's impending loss.

People will react differently to death. It can be difficult to see death as the Divine Messenger mentioned in the Nikayas. Death is overwhelming for many, even religious people, esp. when dealing with family.

I would suggest being open to your wife and her family and esp. the father. And help them whenever you can. They will need your support.

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