Wednesday, 13 February 2013

The Day The Love Shone Through The Grief

Last week my wife and I attended a funeral of a friend who had committed suicide. He was fifty years old, seemed to have everything – a wonderful wife, four beautiful children, a lovely house, gainful employment and numerous talents including a gift for music. That day three hundred people crammed into a small country church to celebrate his life, while two thousand more sent their condolences via the internet. Our hearts were wrenched open with sadness and grief as we watched the coffin being carried in by his teenage sons, followed by a younger daughter, son and his wife. At that moment I am sure all of us asked the same question – “Why would somebody who was loved by so many and had so much to offer have taken his own life?”

When tragedies like this strike we all desperately search for meaning, trying somehow to make sense of the futility and cruelty of life. Those of us at the funeral could only begin to imagine the agony that his wife, children, and family are going through. But we must try and make sense of this tragedy and check out our own relationships and lives. This was certainly what my wife and I did this weekend. Ironically from such pain we can gain more awareness and can see our lives with more clarity. These are some of my thoughts:

If you are familiar with my blog and website you will know that the underlying principle is that love is not a transient emotion, but a natural state of existence – love is our essence. This means that it is always present and can never desert us. This turns everything we know about love, emotions and relationships on its head. Rather than searching for love in our lives we need to ask ourselves why we are keeping it out. By taking such an approach we begin to see that all our emotional and relationship problems come out of our denial of self-love – a denial of who we truly are. Making such a choice is the ultimate expression of free will – we can choose to experience love and happiness or not. This is our freedom as human beings but the choice to deny love comes at a terrible price for us and the people around us.

Of course we must ask why we would deny our true, loving essence? Surely that is something that we would all welcome and embrace. While it is true that we look for benefits in life and are all searching for happiness, when it comes to the love we often refuse to receive it. This can be explained in a number of ways psychologically but as we look deeper into the mind we find a place where we do not feel worthy of the love. This is always associated with guilt for having let somebody down in our lives – often somebody who themselves has struggled to embrace and express love in their own life. At a spiritual level this will extend to a belief that we have failed, denied or attacked God (in whatever form you recognise a Universal or Divine presence/source of love). If we have denied our essence as love, we become very guilty for having thrown away our gift and this then makes us feel even more unworthy – I think you can see circularity of this trap! It seems this deep layer of guilt is present in everybody, regardless of faith or a belief in things spiritual.

Such a disconnect from love and spiritual essence has far-reaching consequences to our relationships. Without feeling love within and around us through our connection to the world at large and the greater Universe, we are forced to look for it from our relationships. We need to find people to love us and replace the love that we believe is missing. This can never work because it not the truth of our lives, and this is why our dependence (and lack of self-love) causes us to suffer. Our desperate attempts to win love (or feelings of success, wealth or power that can seem like love) in fact drive true love away. Eventually, with the belief that love has deserted us, we can sink into a terrible place of depression and hopelessness.

In most cases of suicide I believe that people have lost their connection to love – both at the human and spiritual level.  They might decide to take their own life because they feel a burden on the people around them or because they can see no point in carrying on with such suffering. Those left behind can feel a terrible burden of responsibility for not being able to save their loved one and can often feel intense guilt. Tragically this can then easily destroy their lives, and the cycle of self-blame and unworthiness continues.

When things like this happen it is very important to feel all the feelings that come up – shock, sadness, grief, anger, betrayal, hopelessness and guilt itself. But in feeling these painful emotions it is also important to feel the love that is so entwined with the pain. It will seem that it is the love that is hurting, but this is an illusion. What hurts is the all the guilt and regret for unexpressed love in the past. The death of somebody we are close to instantly opens our hearts and we start feeling everything – both negative and positive. This awakens us and brings us back to life after the emotional dissociation that so often characterises our lives. This was certainly the wake-up call we had last week.

As the vicar stressed at the funeral, our friend’s love that was so evident to the people around him when he was alive, was still present in that church and will be forever more in their hearts. The love, indeed the grace, was palpable that day. It was a difficult day in so many ways but it was also very beautiful one in the way that remembering our friend brought all those who attended to a place of wholehearted honesty. It became so obvious that love is all that matters is this life. These episodes, painful as they are, are an invitation to return to love.

I am now even more determined to look at my life and embrace the love that is within me, and available to me from my connections to family, friends and colleagues as well as through my higher spiritual connection. I will also look again at the places where I am keeping love out of my life and I will work to dismantle those barriers. I will make sure that the people in my life know how much I love them and make sure I am open to receive their love. Really that is all that any of us need to do…


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