My youngest son died in a car accident when he was just sixteen years old. He was a passenger in a stolen car and he died in a wheat field with three other young people at the height of summer, when the countryside was flourishing in magnificent beauty. I was devastated and in despair. My whole world collapsed,as my worst nightmare came true. But I had three other grieving children to support and love and care for, at this difficult time.
On the day of the funeral, with all the family gathered and waiting for the funeral cars to arrive, I took myself out into our secluded garden for a few moments to gather the strength for the coming ordeal.
I had been an atheist for a long time but, there in the garden, I prayed to the universe from the depth of my being for the ability to be totally present for the service and fully open to whatever pain and anguish would arise. I was very afraid that I might shut down emotionally and later not remember the funeral at all. My prayer was answered – as we entered the crowded chapel, my heart seemed to open as wide as the world and I became aware of my connection to all beings and indeed all of life.
I felt fully present to the pain, sadness and grief and yet, with a complete acceptance of ‘this as it was’, came a profound experience of love and peace permeating everything.
This all happened 24 years ago now and I have never tried to write about it or in fact share it with others – apart from a very small number of close friends. But the deep truth I experienced on that day has lasted in my heart ever since.
In the years that followed my son’s death I have been privileged to be alongside my husband, father, mother and brother as they each journeyed through the last weeks of their lives but I still have no real idea how I will cope with my own final journey when the time comes for me to face a terminal illness and to die. My only plan is to keep an open, loving heart if I possibly can and to try to be kind to those around me. The rest is a mystery!
Thank you Burgs for your teachings, particularly this reflection on death which resonates so markedly with me. You express so clearly and warm-heartedly the truths about this wonderful human life, which we are all fortunate to experience.
With metta to all those who contemplate these precious teachings.