Disclaimer: The following are some thoughts about grief that may not be appropriate for those who have just recently experienced a loss of a dear one. For them, it may be that the pain, confusion and turmoil will only be calmed by time. Perhaps later when life still goes on in spite of death and one is seeking closure, these concepts might be comforting.

On Grief

Grief is a feeling of great sadness. It is an intense and profound sorrow that needs to find expression during the time of mourning a loss. Mourning in some cultures actually has a time frame, for example 7 or 40 days. During this time, many people experience denial, anger, despair and overwhelming heartache.

As time goes on, the bereaved go through a period of withdrawal where daily life often seems inadequate and lacking. One wrestles to find comprehension of "How can I live without this person?" Thoughts surface about all the things this person meant to us, what they represented to us and how we defined ourselves through their presence. We struggle to establish a new self-identity, Who are we without them?

If we do not find resolve, grief can turn into years of prolonged sorrow and persistent pain. After watching the documentary Ram Dass: Fierce Grace, it is evident that parent's lives relate in meaning to their children, lovers to their partners, children to their parents. As long as we hold the meaning of our life with someone who passed, we will never be free. To be liberated we must take our meaning for life back; place it within ourselves and from there find new meaning.

The Bhagavad Gita or gita for short is a spiritual scripture considered one of Yoga's building blocks. It is an account of a conversation between Arjuna (a man) and Krishna (God).

Of all the topics one can imagine needed to be addressed in this setting, grief is addressed at the outset. Arjuna's grief sets the premise to a principal concept of utmost importance relayed to him by Krishna. This concept sits at the heart of everything else said in the gita. It is: the existence of an underlying, metaphysical essence or, in common words, the existence of soul.

(Atma in the gita is the name for soul, inner self, higher self, spirit, true essence, prima materia or life-force).

Here are some verses concerning the nature and qualities of this Atma. (Translated by Dr. Ramanand Prasad)

Know That, by which all this (universe) is pervaded, to be indestructible. No one can destroy the indestructible (Atma). (2.17)

The Atma is neither born nor does it die at any time, nor having been it will cease to exist again. It is unborn, eternal, permanent, and primeval. The Atma is not destroyed when the body is destroyed. (2.20)

Just as a person puts on new garments after discarding the old ones, similarly Atma acquires new bodies after casting away the old bodies. (2.22)

Weapons do not cut this Atma, fire does not burn it, water does not make it wet, and the wind does not make it dry. (2.23)

This Atma cannot be cut, burned, wetted, or dried up. It is eternal, all pervading, unchanging, immovable, and primeval. (2.24)

The Atma is said to be unmanifest, unthinkable, and unchanging. Knowing this Atma as such you should not grieve. (2.25)

O Arjuna, the Atma that dwells in the body of all (beings) is eternally indestructible.(2.30)

Understanding that death is only the end to the body (a physical expression) can help us reconcile the gap of thinking that we were left alone. The gita explains that there is no end to the life (the intelligent energy) that animated the body. We are in essence that same energy that can take form and transform. We can exist in a different state, perhaps a different vibration and have a continuation.

Life goes on for both the passed soul and the embodied soul. Use Yoga to work through your mourning and the healing process. Chest expanding postures will help open your heart and rid the muscles of holding physical pain as well as stimulating the thymus gland to produce more immunity blood cells. Releasing sounds will heal the lungs and the 5th Chakra. The Breath of Life can be consciously directed into the area of your body that is holding on. Increased amounts of oxygen in the brain will create a lightness of being and will elevate your vibration. And finally, you can use the quiet of meditation to talk to your loved ones and release them.

The continuation of their lives liberates us and asks us to move on with our life.

Grief may have made itself a part of your life, but it did not end it. If you have not released your grief and have carried it for too long, then perhaps it is self pity that has been deadening your body to healthy activities, deadening your mind to interesting and meaningful things, deadening your ability to have fun, to laugh, your desire and ability to love and to be loved. Who then is the dead one? - If this resonates with you, bring it to the light - do not look away, see it - witness. Go through it and let it go.

Some children are angry at their parents and when the parent dies they feel much guilt. They self-punish themselves through reminding themselves again and again of the pain of loosing the parent. Bring it to the surface, it is time to forgive. Express it with empathy and acceptance and in a moment of revelation love comes and appreciation comes.

If you are still reminded of it - observe - don't participate in it - don't relive it.

There is real misery, but there is no real death.