When a loss is imminent, how do you let go?
A friend whose father was very ill had found a way to let go and face the reality of his father’s imminent death.
When I heard that his dad had passed away, I called but did not get through. So I left a voicemail expressing my condolences. Later, in a message he replied:
“… we did everything we could for dad but unfortunately it got to a stage where it was out of our hands. He passed peacefully and that’s all we could ask for.”
It must have taken great courage and strength to write those words. Within those words came a great realisation:
“…it was out of our hands.”
We think we’re in control
How much of what happens in our world is in our hands? How much can we control?
We think that we determine how other people behave and the situations that arise.
We think we can get people to do as we want.
- We get happy when the sun shines and sad when the rain falls.
- We get happy cruising in our shiny new car, but upset and angry over the tiniest scratch.
- We are smitten by the cute new baby, but fall into depression when losing a loved one.
- We are over the moon when we receive a compliment, but fiercely bitter when people fail to notice our greatest work.
So much of our day to day life is spent trying to control the people and the situations in the world around us.
We so desperately want things to go our way. When they don’t, we plead and we bully, we get angry and upset and we cry.
It’s out of our hands – we control nothing
The reality of life is that we control nothing.
My grandma used to say (in Gujarati):
“jeh thawanu hasse, ee thaasse”.
It loosely translates to:
“what is meant to happen, will”.
For years I would brush it off, thinking my grandma was nuts. What mumbo-jumbo! Of course I control my own destiny. Right? No so.
Turns out that since she passed on, I’ve come to realise just how right she was.
Things certainly do happen as they are meant to:
- People come and go.
- We land jobs and get fired, or made redundant, or just lose interest.
- We fall in and out of love.
- Others fall in and out of love with us.
- Houses are built and fall down, or are demolished, or burned down.
- Our health is great one moment, and the next we suffer with aches and pains and fevers.
Our life, our world, everything around us is so temperamental. So strange. So odd. How much do we really control?
Everything that happens is appropriate
In gujarati, there is another phrase:
“jeh thaay, teh yogya chhe”
It translates to:
“what happens, is appropriate”.
Based on our self-bound karma, situation arise. What we experience is a result of our own self-bound karma. What others experience is a result of their own self-bound karma.
The situation that arises is appropriate because it is a fruition of that previously-bound karma.
Although we make every effort to help others through a difficult time (which we should), only they have the power to get through the situation.
Just as nobody can truly take away something that we are meant to experience (that which is appropriate to what we have previously bound), in that way we are not able to take away something that another person is due to experience.
Illness is just a result of previously-bound karma arising at the appropriate time.
Death is nothing other than the ending of a karma that determined how long that particular lifespan would be. It is appropriate because that life-span-determining karma had arisen at the time of that person’s conception and had come to an end at the end of their life.
We can’t stop someone from getting ill, nor can we stop them from dying.
We can’t extract them from what they are experiencing, but we can offer strength through our love and support and practical help.
Everything that happens is good
My grandma also used the say (in gujarati):
“jeh thaay, ee saara maate thaay chhe”.
This loosely translates to:
“whatever is happening, is happening for the good”.
This one really used to confuse me. But grandmas, the wise old things that they are, have a terrific way of plantings seed within us that bloom when we most need them to.
Everything that happens is for the best.
Whatever we experience, or whatever our closest friends and family or indeed anybody in the world around us is going through, is as a result of karma that they themselves have bound.
This karma has to come to fruition, nomatter whether they want it to or not.
When an illness arises and passes, then that’s it — the karma has surfaced, and ran its course. Its a good thing. At least you are free from that karma! Of course there’s all the other previously bound karma that also has to run its course, but at least this one’s gone.
Whenever something happens, nomatter how much temporary pleasure or seemingly long-term pain it may bring you, stay calm and be happy that you are freeing yourself from that which is binding you.
We control nothing, yet we control everything
Even though we cannot control the situations that are facing us right now, we certainly have the power to dictate what comes up for us in the future.
This is done by the way in which we respond to situations.
When we see someone going through a lot of pain, if we get angry about not being able to do something about it, we bind more negative karma ourselves, which leads to negative situations arising for us in the future.
However, if we see the reality of that situation for what it is — that they have to endure the pain, then we can calmly and appropriately support that person the best way we can, without getting emotionally attached to the outcome.
By remaining detached and maintaining calm, we minimise trapping ourselves in troubling situations. That, and being happy right now that we are letting whatever is happening right now run its course. 🙂
Letting go, but feeling great!
We think we control everything. But we don’t and that’s ok. What is meant to happen, will happen. What happens, is appropriate. Whatever is happening, is for the best.
Stay calm, respond appropriately, and be happy!