Live With Exertion (A Meditation on Death)

Our life is short.  Even if we live 100 years, it is still short.

This morning I went to a funeral. A dear friend’s mom passed away. She was 80 years old, and had been suffering for a long time. So on some levels, her death was a relief and perhaps even a blessing.

Still, I couldn’t keep myself from crying. I cried for her daughter, and especially her grandchildren, who happen to be children that I love very much. They are suffering through a great loss. Their lives will shift now, and a line will be drawn, a new memory marker.  From now on there will be the things that happened while grandma was alive, and the things that happened after she died.

When the pastor stood up to speak, I thought Here we go. He is going to tell us about how she is at peace now. She is with God now. You know, the usual stuff that you hear at a Christian service.  But he didn’t.

His first words were to ask us to try to bring our hearts and minds close together in this space. He asked us to see this as an opportunity for a public meditation on the impermanence of life.  Those may not have been his exact words, but that is how I heard it.  It’s all yoga to me.

And so that’s what I did.  I sat. And I meditated on death. I’ve done this many times before.  It often occurs while I am lying in savasana, a meditation on death in general.

But today, I was meditating on the death of a person I knew, Mrs. Trudy Mania.   Her death, in some way, affected the life of every person that was in that room.  There were 100 people, sitting together, grieving together.  And there are many others, I’m sure, who could not be there today.  I sat with my breath, sending love and peace to all of her family members. I prayed that the gaping hole in their lives, which was now filling with sadness and grief, would soon be filled with nothing but sweet memories, light and love.

Every second of the day, which means every time I take a breath, 2 people in the world die.  Over 100 people die every minute, and more than 150,000 a day.   That means there are a lot of grieving people in the world right now.     Right now.  A lot of people.

In our daily lives, we come in contact with people who are grieving all of the time. If we don’t know them personally, we just don’t know they are grieving.  We should keep this in mind as we interact with people.  If they have recently experienced a loss, they may be fragile, tender, and perhaps hyper-sensitive to their own mortality.  As I am today.

I’m going to die.  I’m not trying to be morose.  I am just stating a fact.  No matter how long my life is, it will be short.  Death waits there, at the end, for me.  And in this life, it is the only thing I know for certain.

“Death comes without warning. This body will be a corpse. Until that time, I will practice with exertion.”                                                    – A Buddhist Meditation


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