All people suffer, we suffer when we lose our loved ones, We suffer when we don’t get what we want; we suffer because we are left out; we suffer because we don’t accept change. WE SUFFER BECAUSE WE Don’t KNOW A WAY OUT OF SUFFERING. Basically, we all suffer because we are humans. BUT when did someone TEACH you about how to DEAL WITH SUFFERING? Which is the most natural part OF LIFE. IN THIS ARTICLE I WANT TO SHED LIGHT ON HOW TO RELIEVE AND TRANSFORM SUFFERING TO INNER STRENGTH & HAVE PEACE OF MIND.
I certainly did not pick the simplest topic to talk about, but writing about my own experience of mourning I have learnt a lot and tried my best to sum up my own contemplations during my difficult time when I too lost both my parents.
Shall we just dive in?
I would like to talk about how to deal with the distress many go through with suffering from sorrow and losing a loved one. It’s been one year and a month since I lost my mum to small cell lung cancer and a year and two months since my stepfather also lost his battle to multiple myeloma. The last couple of years have been a whirlwind of emotions that have swayed my spirit like a raft in a stormy season. In between moments of mourning, I have embraced a wider perspective about how to suffer better to help myself embrace my sorrow and find peace within.
How I have Embraced my Sorrow to Keep Moving ahead
Acknowledging the sorrow that it’s there with us throughout our days, and when I’m reminded by the scents of my loved ones that have passed, I get teary-eyed. I have my mother’s perfume in my cabinet downstairs and sometimes I pause and inhale her scent, which makes me feel that she is still around. In my belief, I know that she still is, because I live on from her. She lives on in the flowers I put on the dining table. I’m still awaiting the amaryllis flower to bloom. It’s going to happen any day now. And then I know I will smile again, thinking of my mother.
My mum loved flowers and so did my stepdad. They were garden masters, I’m not joking. My mother was a secretary in the Garden Association and my stepdad a region leader in the Norwegian Garden Association. They took much pride in their work with their flowers and growing seeds in the basement of their gym and in the office during the winter months. When I visited my parents when they were alive, I was lucky to taste the most delicious homegrown tomatoes from the greenhouse. I have tasted nothing better since.
My parents had found an interest in growing life, in the creation of seed cultivation and enjoying the flowers blossom. My stepdad enjoyed reading under the rose-covered pavilion in the garden of Eden, as I have named their garden. It was so beautiful I once said to my mum that they could arrange a marriage ceremony there or have photographs taken off the newlyweds. Amidst the flowers, there were countless butterflies that would circulate around the white and pink coneflowers. The bees loved to suck nectar from the myriad of colored blossoms that they had.
It basically started with two trees and a flower bed. My parents’ garden only had two apple trees and a flower bed. Now you can find garden cosmos, snapdragon, plum tree, a kitchen garden with rosemary, parsley, dill, potatoes, blackberry, currant, broccoli, and cauliflower. Everything results from three summers of work with my mother’s laborious weeding and my stepdad’s patient seed plucking. Naturally, their garden would have a lot of visitors through the “1000 Open Garden” which is a garden walk where 400 private homeowners show off their gardens to enthusiasts.
Slideshow: Photography by my mother.
How We Can Learn to Transform Suffering to Inner-Strength
I was listening to this dharma talk by His Holiness The Dalai Lama this morning about “How to deal with loss and suffering from losing a loved one”. Below, I have listed his advice on the topic and my reflections on them.
Two days before my mother’s passing, we shared a heartfelt conversation that was beyond worlds. She told me to be happy and open up to the bounties of what life has to offer. And she continued to repeat how important it was to have faith, hope and love. She told me I was going to be reborn and that I only needed to step into the light, preferably in the center, so I could partake in the immense love that was transmitting from that space through me. This would awaken me, she said, and it would show me the path to a new life. She repeatedly said that she wanted me to help people that were suffering, in her own words my mother said; “Its important that you give life to those that hurt and lead them to a life of love, faith and hope”.
I asked my mother about what she wanted me to do when I mourned her loss, and she said to me I should rather live. When I asked her if I should light a candle for her after her passing, she said that I shouldn’t do that because it steals oxygen. I should rather open the windows and let the light in. I remember thinking; She would be everywhere, in the air that I breathe, in the warmth from the sun when I take a walk, that she was our Mother Earth, in the light that I let in when I draw the curtains away from the windows, in everything that breathes, and in the breeze that caresses my face, and in everything that I see. I realized instantaneously that she would be everywhere. I told my mother that she would live on through me, through my children, and then my mother added; and in your children’s smile and kisses.
One day when I was out in our garden harvesting vegetables I had planted earlier in the season. I dug through the soil to find the potatoes I had planted from a single seed potato. I pulled on the top leaves of the plant and saw all these beautiful baby potatoes, small and large, all unique in their own ways, created by one mother potato. And I started crying, my tears blended with the soil beneath my knees, and I was in awe of the wisdom that the earth had given me. We are all children of mother earth, and we continue living because of our mothers. I felt thankful, I can not put it into words the awakening I had realizing this. But it meant the world to me. I suddenly understood what my mother’s dying words were all about, “we are one”.
Going through both brain surgery to save my own life and losing my parents at the same time within a period of a year has been a tough time to say at least. I have needed to put everything on pause and just focus on getting better. I remember one quote that has helped me a lot.
You don’t know how strong you are
until being strong is the only choice you have.
You don’t know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have. I have doubted myself during this process how I ever could mend my broken heart again after all of this going on simultaneously, but I am still here, breathing in and out and in full acceptance. I do hurt, but I do feel more brave, stronger, more balanced and may I say wiser? I feel I have learnt a thing or two since the ground beneath me collapsed. Having risen from the weight that held me down, we bought a car and started the moving process to a new home. We moved from the inner city of Oslo to the inlands of Norway, a walking distance from the lake and into the wilderness.
I drink my morning cup of “Wake Me Up” looking out the window to the horizon of a mountain view with the snow line severing the forest in three colors of gradient white on the top and lush greens blended with darker nuances of emerald green at the bottom where it ends at the foggy lake. Some days ago my love noticed some footprints in the snow and recognized that it was a deer and a moose crossing our garden. What was interesting was that the footsteps brushed through our s-shape garden and on the top of the staircase, the deer had stopped in its tracks to view the scenery, and then the footprints continued to walk down on the other side of our house. It makes me chuckle quietly as I reflect back on that recent memory. The cold winter months can be very harsh on the wildlife during this season as there is scarce food to eat, so they come down to where we live and try to find some food. Even though they too have a difficult life, they pause, observe and enjoy what life has to offer. The bounty of life’s colors and the fresh air. We too need to stop for a while and observe our surroundings, because if we are too occupied with mourning or sorrow without welcoming being present at the same time, we miss out on what is right in front of us. Life itself.
When I was listening to His Holiness Dalai Lama talk about that, no matter how sad or how much we pray it will never bring our loved one’s back, I felt a release. Not because I don’t feel obligated to stop and honor my parents, because I do that a lot throughout every waking day. I think it’s important that I recognize that Im coming more into acceptance of living a life of happiness and having a balanced life regarding how to deal with mourning my parents. Since my life these past few years has been mostly about sorrow and fear, going through craniotomy and only four weeks after in my healing process, my mother and stepfather were diagnosed two days apart with malignant cancers. Having been through the mourning of almost loosing my own life and now mourning two more, I have been tired since it has all been very draining physically and emotionally. Coming to terms with ones own suffering isnt a easy path, but its the path which all of us must take some time during our life. It’s like Im shedding my past self of holding on, since I have come to terms with the dying process, for myself and for my parents, which all of us are facing.
My stepdad used to say that “Nobody has survived death yet”. And he is right, we will all face this certainty, whether or not we like it, that we all are going to die one day. Live your life to the fullest, because you don’t know when your time is up. You don’t want to sit on your deathbed wondering about the times you could have done the things you dreamt of. Do it now, because now is the only time you’ve got. This time being is about transformation and learning to let go of the things that don’t serve us anymore. Life is impermanent and death shall befall us all in the end. Knowing that we base all things on the same principles when it comes to everything in life, which is impermanence. I too know that suffering is going to pass as well.
Resources: I have made a library of yoga exercises for you, you can click on the link and try some Kundalini meditations and kriyas below.
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Thank you for reading!
With loving kindness,
Tiaga Nihal Kaur.
Om, Shanti, Shanti, Shanti, ॐ