Endings and Beginnings
My mother-in-law, Kitty (short for Katharine), passed away last Friday. Another life ends. Another life begins. One incarnation makes way for another. Those of us left behind will begin to live without Kitty, so it feels like a new life. She was a major influence in our lives. Her mind was sharp until a few weeks before her death and we enjoyed her insights and wisdom until a sudden change. Of course, at 98 years of age, we all knew the end was approaching.
Even so, her decline came quickly. I suspect Kitty’s intention had something to do with it. She had an interest in the dying process and I spent considerable time with her exploring the way of death according to the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. She was quite interested but always said, “I really like Buddhism except for the no God thing.” I assured her Buddha did not teach there was no God, it just wasn’t part of the spiritual conversation. I like to think she took the teachings on dying to heart anyway. Now we cannot have those lively dialogs. I will miss that. But I will continue to pray for her in the bardo of becoming, the time between death and liberation or rebirth.
It is customary to offer prayers of support for 49 days after a person’s death. This way we become companions on their journey and it helps with our closure. We transform our grief into a connection with all beings who grieve—while helping to liberate obstacles for the ones who have passed over. Through this ritual, we become co-creators of the sacred map of awareness about dying. We help guide beings through the unknowable transition and we go along for the ride, developing a deeper understanding of the process.
Another life ends. Another life begins. An endless chain of emptiness, arising, emanating—and dissolving once more into immeasurable luminosity.