My grandfather has lived a long life but is having problems letting go of the body. He is filled with fear and I try to ease him by talking to him and reading to him. I have shared my thoughts with him on ego, purusha and prakruti. He’s approaching the end and is in great pain but cannot let go. He told me a couple of days ago that he does not want to go. Is there some advice you may have for me to help him? Maybe a mantra or prayer or reading that I can share with him? The death of my grandmother three years ago was very graceful and peaceful. She let go without a problem and he is just the opposite. He told me in the past that he believes in reincarnation, but his attachment to this material world is strong.
When someone we love is dying, it is a very painful experience for us to let go of them…and for them to let go of us and everyone else that they have loved.
Often times it is too painful for us to watch our loved one die, and so we want them to hurry up and leave their body because we can’t watch someone we love suffer in pain. But, we have to honor their experience. The body has its own intelligence; beyond what we think in our emotional mind about how the dying process should go. If your grandfather’s dying process is going too slow for you, then introspect about what is the rush? He himself said he is not ready to go. So, who wants him to die more quickly? You or him? You, because you can’t stand the pain? If it is him, then he would have died already. As you noted, each person’s dying process is unique, as unique as each person’s life. So your grandmother died more peacefully. But, try not to compare your grandfather to her. Instead, honor his process for what it is. The best thing you can do is to just be present with him in his process, without trying to expedite it in any way. This is a good exercise in awareness. Just watch your mind as you sit with him. Watch your breath. Be with yourself. Be with him. Nothing to do other than to be. Because that is the only place where love actually is. In the present moment. Most people are not able to really do this with their loved ones in the process of dying, but it is one of the best meditations for the heart. Because then you see all of your expectations, all of your attachments, all of your memories about the past with this person, your fears about the future without them. Let that all go. Let go also of your theoretical understanding of the ahankara, the mind, etc. Just stay present with his breath. And your own. A dying person also lets go when you have let go. So it is important to tell him that you love him and that you will be okay when he goes. Tell him that it is okay for him to go when he is ready. Also, ask him if there is anybody whom he didn’t get to say goodbye to yet? Sometimes the dying hold on in order to say goodbye to a loved one whom they have either lost touch with, or are on bad terms with. So check for that. And, if you can assist him in saying goodbye to that person, that will help him let to go.
But if you still desire to have a dialogue with him about life and death, you can ask him these questions: Who will die? You or the body? If it is only the body, then nothing to fear because “you ” will survive. If it is “you’ who will die, then nothing to fear because you won’t know that you died. Ask him the source of his fear and then analyze it.
Fear is because of attachment. In this material world we become separated with everything around us except ourselves, but we don’t realize that because we do not know our self. So, you can try to help him realize this. However, it is very difficult to talk to a dying person because he is not in a normal state of mind. These are lessons to learn when you are healthy and your mind is functioning properly. So in one way you can thank your grandfather for helping you to learn these lessons and apply them to your own self. Because once you realize these points yourself, you will not experience difficulty with your loved ones passing. You will be situated within your own self, experiencing the bliss of your own being and honoring others process of shedding their bodies, without trying to change it in any way. You will realize that nature has its own perfection that you are a part of, and you will be at peace with her processes, allowing them to unfold in their own time and in their own way.
Here is a technique to help you to be present and witness your grandfathers dying process.
It is said that by praising oneself one destroys one’s good quality and karma, and by criticizing others, one acquires the bad karma and quality of the person criticized. We create wrong samskaras in our heart which will continue to trouble us. Therefore, Krishna advises against it.
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