Lately family, friends and myself have been surrounded by the passing of loved ones. For me and those close to me it certainly has been a tough year on that front.
In paying respect to those that have passed I’ve been left pondering the meaning of life, valuing family and friends a little more and not sweating the small things. Upon the pondering, like we often do, I asked myself “Why are is this happening around me?”
This also lead me to realising that many people that are coming to me and sharing their experiences, challenges and opinion on the loss of family and friends and their grieving process. Again this led me to think “Why are these people coming into my life in this way?”
It was the loss of my cousins husband, and school friend, coupled with the passing of my Aunty in the last week that allowed me to see what the message is.
The message I see in this is “How can I help others?”
As a Yogi dedicated to serving others you may think “well thats obvious”. Well yes it is rather obvious, though its often a wondering of how can I help, what can I say or do, can I really help??
If you have ever had to console a grieving friend or family member you will understand that it is one of the toughest times to show up. You struggle with knowing what to say, do or how to feel.
Likewise if you have lost a loved one you understand that nothing anyone can say, do or express will dramatically change how you feel. You will have times of wanting to be left alone and other times of wanting to be busy doing anything with anyone. These times will come and go like changing tides.
HOW CAN I HELP
When my mother called to share with me the loss of my cousins husband and then again of my Aunty, my partner looked at me with caring eyes and asked “are you ok?”. Whilst feeling sad for the loss of a loved one my reply was simple…
“Yeah, I’m fine. Feel for the immediate family”
Now some of you may say to that…
“Typical bloke response, show a tough front and some empathy for the family. Bury your own true feelings and be brave”.
Personally I totally agree that is exactly what it sounds like. Even pondered if that is what I was actually saying to myself, including the burying of my emotions. Soon realised that this isn’t the case, my heart is on my sleeve and believe in sharing my true feelings openly.
Diving deeper into the feelings and emotions I was experiencing led me to reflect upon my own loss. In April 2009 I lost one of the most important humans in my life, he was a mentor, my best friend and my father.
Reflecting upon the loss of my Father, which I often do, it came clear to me of HOW I MAY be able to help. I say MAY be able to help as I’m aware that we all deal with things differently and we have our own ways to proceed through our own grieving process. By sharing my views on losing loved ones and how I cope with the passing of my father, maybe I can help you or another with a different perspective and/or a new coping mechanisms.
We all have different views and opinions, we have different ways to cope with challenges, opportunity and loss. The following are the 3 things I use to help cope with the loss of my Father, and others. They are in no order of importance, preference or value as they all work at different times in a different manner.
1- “Dad was here for a reason and he taught all that he was here to teach me”
One may say this was a Mantra, saying, Affirmation or positive self talk of some sort. For me this a way of accepting and coming to terms with passing of my father. It was a saying I coined, or borrowed, early in my grieving process. Unaware of where it came from it was something that simply stuck.
For me this thought often reminds me to look within for the answers, to ask for guidance and allow the lessons to come through.
When feeling down, sad or challenged by being unable to speak with Dad, remind myself of this and also ask myself “What would Dad say?”. Being so close to my father allows me to easily answer this, thats when I realise he had already taught what he was here to teach me. Dad had instilled me with all the knowledge, guidance and love possible. Some of it I consciously understand and some its deep down yet to be realised.
2- Yoga with Dad.
Those that knew my father or know of him well would understand that Dad loved all sports and activities. He would do and try anything and everything, or watch happily. At the time of dads passing my Yoga practice was still a thought, and the only one in my family occasionally practicing Yoga was my Sister.
So how Yoga with Dad? I visit dad whilst practicing Yoga.
This started about 12months after getting into yoga when I was having a challenging time at work and Uni. As someone that often got to class about 15mins early to get set up and chill out, I’d find myself laying on my mat and talking with my father. Would send him love, ask him questions or thank him for all that he’s given me. Once class starts my imagination kicks in and I take myself off to a beach where dads presence is. There I do my yoga and allow myself to feel his presence.
3- Speak with Dad.
Like before the yoga classes, often find myself in conversations with Dad. Asking him questions, telling him what has been going on and chat like we did before. Do this whilst walking along the beach, whilst surfing, playing guitar or even just looking up at the sky.
Am certain many I’ve spoken with about this have expressed that they do much the same. At times you may feel sad or upset, thats ok as it is a upsetting they have physically gone from this world. Find solace in their existence and the time you shared.
In speaking with loved ones you may remember something they always said that made you laugh, feel joy, happiness or feel loved and appreciated. Use that as a reminder of how special they are to you.
4- Unconditional Love.
For me this has such a powerful meaning. Unconditional Love is something that many people express or encourage in some way, shape or form. This was simply the way my father loved and taught my sister and I to Love. Whenever I hear, write, speak or think about these words I think of my Father.
This realisation came about a couple years after his passing. Whilst away on a camp with another mentor of mine, Dad came to me in a mediation. As dad came to me he gave me one of those loving fatherly hugs and said “Unconditional Love”. At first I thought it was great way for dad to have expressed how he felt.
It was at the end of the camp when my friend and mentor passed comment “Your father has the message for you”.
At that point the words “Unconditional Love” came to mind and my heart filled with warmth. Since then my feelings are the same every time. They remind me to Love everyone and everything, to be true to yourself and accept all that you are without condition.
These are my ways of coping, you will have your own. Maybe they will be similar or maybe you can take a piece of this and try it out. Remember those that have shared this life with us and they will always be in our hearts.