I’m on Dr. Eben Alexander’s mailing list, and received an email where he talks about his aunt who died last week. He’s suffering from her loss, explaining that although he’s had a near-death experience with all the love, joy, peace and beauty it entailed, it does not make him immune to the human emotion of loss. He talks about things we should think about if we’re experiencing grief now or in the future. I’ve reprinted it below.
My Aunt Monk died last week. She was an Episcopalian preacher‘s wife, and a loving light for all who knew her. And, yes, I am sad. My experience of truly knowing that consciousness is eternal does not make me immune to the human emotion of loss. Indeed, when a loved one dies, it is our loss on this side of the veil. I miss the tangible presence of her, the laughter and love, even the routine of life as she fulfilled her place on this earth so vividly…so alive.
Grief. It stops us in our tracks. But, it also hands us the opportunity, even demands, that we breathe, pay attention, and live in the present moment, appreciating everyone around us and all the beauty great and small. Living in this moment does not allow us to avoid reality, which is often our first instinct when dealing with bad news, whether the deep sorrow of death or a disappointment on the job or in a relationship. Would that we could be asleep and awaken from this bad dream…not return to the sad reality of loss. But so it is, and it is universal. We have all felt loss, or will endure it at some time in our lives.
So, how do we move forward? First, honor the one who has crossed over, in whatever way is most fitting. For some, that might be sitting with the body for a period of time as the spirit makes its way onward. For others, it may be hosting a party to celebrate the remembrance of good times together. For one group of friends last week, it was leading the entire funeral procession through the drive-thru window at Burger King! And, in some traditions, it may be through wearing black for a full year after a family member dies. All these activities join friends and family together in shared acts of Love, and that‘s a great parting gift from our beloved. Good grief?
As time passes, for me, the awareness that consciousness (as soul, or spirit) survives bodily death gives me a sense of peace and comfort, and gives me the courage to offer sincere words of hope to others. In addition, having a daily practice of meditation or prayer renews my energy as it reconnects me to Source, or the “Core.“ And, there is no substitute for the time-honored practices of expressing gratitude and giving of ourselves to others. Even the smallest expression or thought of gratitude can shift our energetic system and open a window into our soul. Even one act of doing something for someone else connects us, expands us and reminds us of how we are all interconnected, all part of a larger field of Love.
I hope you will pause to honor, feel, thank and love those around you when grief visits you next. I know there will be times in my life over the coming weeks when the busy-ness of travel and a packed schedule suddenly stops for a moment, and I will remember my loss; and I know that sadness, or grief, may hit me unexpectedly when I least expect it, just when I think “I‘m over it.“ At that moment, I will sit with the feeling and invite the power of unconditional love to lead me into gratitude again, to remember what I now know about that beautiful place where my Lost loved ones now reside, and to feel connected through time and space to all those with whom I am honored to share love.
I want to thank all of you for your continued messages of love and appreciation — know that I am trying to respond as efficiently as I can (though I am quite behind!). Please be patient if you have sent me something – I will try to get back to you.
I am humbled by the effect my story has had on so many. I invite you to walk through your times of grieving knowing we are all always connected.
Eben Alexander, MD
February 2, 2013