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Meditation and Death of a Loved One

by Sanghamitta

My husband died with no warning. Alive one day, hiking in the mountains, healthy, no problems. Then gone. I spent two days phoning family and friends, bawling my eyes out each time I said the words, "He died".

But the next morning I awoke in a beautiful state of equanimity. I was surrounded by peace. I felt his energy spooning me. The day was spent making arrangements for his Celebration of Life. At one point, the thought arose, "I've lost my best friend! my canoeing partner! my....". Then, just as suddenly, another thought penetrated, "This isn't helpful!" Bang.....the first set of thoughts were gone. I was totally at peace.

The day continued. The two-thought scenario happened once more and then NEVER again. I spoke with my teacher, Ajahn Sona, about this. He said it was an example of the difference between the the faculties and the powers, five qualities that are part of the Wings to Awakening.

These five qualities: faith, energy, mindfulness, concentration and wisdom are mentioned twice, first as faculties and then as powers. As faculties, their development and wise application help us to let go of the hindrances. Once they are well developed, they become powers, unshakeable.

I'm assuming it was the faculty of mindfulness that acted as a power in that crucial thought moment. Mindfulness remembers the skillful ways to act in any moment as well as being aware of the present moment. So mindfulness kicked in, due to my years of meditation practice, and remembered that focusing on the loss of my husband would only lead to more suffering.

I don't believe my mindfulness is in the power stage at present.....I have many examples to prove that! However, in that time of great loss, it rose temporarily to the power level to help me cope with the greatest loss of my life.

I did have tears, daily, for the next one and a half years. I'd see an older couple walking hand in hand and the tears would come. Or I'd see a young couple, just starting out in life together and the tears would come. These tears lasted less than a minute. The rest of the time, when I thought of my husband, it was of happy memories together and those brought a smile to my face.

I am grateful for my meditation practice. I believe it immensely lessened the suffering I could have experienced with the loss of my beloved.

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