Get out of bed

Written by Suraj Shah. Inspired by greatness.

There are some days that I just don’t want to get out of bed, but I’ve chanced upon something that guarantees I arise in the morning with zeal.

The warm comforting trap of the duvet

For some reason there are mornings when I feel shitty about myself yet all safe and warm wrapped up in the duvet. I tend to indulge in the comfort and can’t bear to face the world.

Perhaps I’m dissatisfied with who I am or the way I look. Perhaps I’m not challenged enough at work, or I feel disconnected from the people who matter to me. Perhaps I’m not keeping the promises I make to myself and so letting myself down and disappointing those around me.

Whatever the reason, on those days I feel horrible and just don’t want to get out of bed.

But here’s the thing – it turns out there’s a sure-fire way of shaking off that funk.

What I’m about to share with you, I don’t manage everyday, but when I do manage it, it makes the world of difference.

Arise from the delusion of comfort; Live to serve

There comes a point while I am gradually waking up that I start to think about the people in my life – those around me who I care about and who deeply care about me.

I think about who they are, where in the world they live and what they need the most.

I think about what they say and what is left unsaid. I recall the expressions on their face and the things they do.

It wakes me up, literally, to the important needs of the people around me.

It reminds me of how everyone is the same. How everyone craves love and how everyone has fears.

Then I think about who I am and what I have, right now, to offer that love, to heal the pain, to pacify their fears.

Magically, as my delusion of comfort starts to shift, my heart fills with energy and I look forward to waking up.

As I arise from my slumber and push my own dissatisfaction to the side, I realise that I ought to get out of bed.

Only then can I offer love. Only then can I pacify fears. Only then can I heal pain.

It’s only then that I can serve and only then can I truly live.

Good morning!

To be an ocean of love

Written by Suraj Shah. Inspired by greatness.

This one’s to all the ladies who calmly endure pain and hardship, and to their husbands who lovingly care for their wife’s every single need — I salute you.

We’ve had a bereavement in the family. My wife’s aunt (we’ll call her ‘masi’) passed away at the age of 51. She had been facing an ongoing battle with cancer for many years. Masi leaves behind her husband (we’ll call him ‘masa’) and a 17 year old son.

At the prathna sabha — a prayer meeting where the community come together to take strength from detachment-cultivating songs and pay their condolences to the family — members of the family and community spoke about masi’s life and her virtues.

Samta bhaav: calmly enduring the ups and downs of life

Masi’s cancer was advanced. It had gotten into her bones and affected every part of her body. She was constantly in so much pain and yet her focus was clear. She knew she needed to remain calm, stay strong, persevere and raise her son to become the wonderful young man he is today.

In Jain dharma, there is a term known as “samta bhaav”. It means to have a feeling of calmness and peace in any given situation. It means to have equanimity regardless of the pushes and pulls and ups and downs of life.

Samta bhaav arises from a knowing that everything around us is merely temporary — it will come and go as appropriate, based on the knots we have bound to ourselves through our previous behaviours. Those knots we have bound in the past bring rise to these present situations in our life.

Samta bhaav is a feeling that arises as a result of knowing in the depths of our heart that we are wholly responsible for the situations that are manifesting in our lives right now. Our present behaviours — the way we endure the situations we face — will determine the knots we bind and the subsequent situations that present themselves to us.

Masi, through the day-to-day endurance of physical pain, demonstrated samta bhaav to us.

Despite what she was going through, she would have a smile on her face and not let talk about her medical condition dampen the vitality of her life and her family.

We can take inspiration from that, learn to ease our own suffering and eventually free ourselves from our own self-made traps.

Pyaar ka saagar: being an ocean of love

During the prathna sabha, there was a devotional song performed, titled ‘Tu pyaar ka saagar hain’ (external links: music video; lyrics translation).

The song expresses devotion towards the great souls who have experienced their true limitless inner bliss and freedom from suffering.

These great souls are an ocean of love, overflowing with compassion. We look to them to give us just one drop of love (from that ocean of love) to quench our thirst, our thirst for freedom and ultimately cure our otherwise endless suffering.

Pyaar ka saagar means ‘ocean of love’. By taking a drop from the ocean of love, may we also be free to fly across our own ocean of suffering.

During the words from family members shared at the end of the prathna sabha, masi’s eldest brother spoke briefly about masi’s virtues and then directed our attention towards masa (masi’s husband) — an embodiment of ‘pyaar ka saagar’, an ocean of love.

Masa, in all these years, stood firmly next to masi, taking care of her every single need. From the ups and downs, the holidays and the hospital visits, and everything in between, he was right there, by her side, supporting masi through the journey.

He would work hard at the office all day and then tend to masi in the evenings and throughout the night. He is someone who clearly understood his duty and continued to diligently fulfill it.

Masa personified an ocean of love by consistently being at masi’s side, helping her endure what life presented her with.

Striving to be an ocean of love

As the upcoming years and decades unravel, I hope that my wife never has to suffer any physical pain, emotional turmoil or mental anguish.

But if she has to face any of this, then I hope I have the strength, stamina and diligence to care for her every need and soften her day-to-day suffering.

I look towards masa, my father, grandfather and other great men out there, and seek to become an ocean of love just like them.

Getting grief and bereavement support

Written by Suraj Shah, inspired by greatness.

Upon losing someone, do you feel there’s no-one you can talk to?

Even with loads of people around who try hard to make sure you’re not left on your own, it’s still so easy to feel alone. But there is a way through it.

A new reader of Live with loss had been struggling with her father’s death for over two years.

She recently wrote to me:

“I feel alone and stranded in that no one around me wants to talk about it. Many times I’ve restrained myself because people around me would either be uncomfortable or not ready to talk about loss or grieving.”

I think many of us have felt this at one time or another — whether someone close to us has died, or we’ve lost them in some other way.

Even with many caring people around, we feel completely stranded because it feels we can’t depend on them to give us what we need.

The people around us

These people — our family, our friends, our colleagues and our neighbours — may think they know what we need. But mostly, they don’t. They may want the best for us, but they tend to arrive ill equipped.

Some don’t really know what to do, so they send a small note and leave us alone. Some don’t bother to contact at all.

Some are so caught up in their own lives that they don’t notice we need their support.

Some get so distracted retelling their own tragic stories or updating us about other people who have died, that they completely forget about us!

Some even have their own agendas in making sure we’re “fit to work” again, so they do what they can to rush us back into a normal happy state.

Mostly, the people around us are not comfortable talking about death or loss — they may say it’s too morbid, but perhaps they are a little scared of facing up to the topic themselves.  Go easy on them.

Be aware of all these types of people and let them carry on (because we can’t ever really change someone else), while you facilitate your own ‘getting back to normal’.

It takes time, care and compassion.  Most of all, it takes love. Expectation-free love.

All we need when we’ve lost

The simple truth is that following a loss, all we need is:

  • Someone to sit with us, face to face.
  • Someone to spend time with us, when we’re ready.
  • Someone to ask the right questions.
  • Someone to listen, to truly listen.
  • Someone to not tell us about their own tragic stories!

When we lose someone that we are close to, it is often hard to make sense of it.  The one thing we want above anything else is to have someone to talk to.

Someone to openly talk with, someone who will just listen, who can prepare a welcoming space in which we can breathe and think more clearly.

Reaching out for bereavement support

We may not realise that near our homes and within our neighbourhoods are people trained to support us during times when we feel stranded.

Some are specifically trained to offer bereavement support — to sit and listen to us and help us regain our strength.

These people can be found in:

  • local community centres
  • places of worship
  • hospitals and hospices
  • the local phone directory
  • web searches

Some services are offered by volunteers completely free of charge. Others charge a fee (although many of those are means-tested, which allow you to ‘pay based on your earnings’).

However, if you live in a remote part of the world where a face-to-face visit is not possible, there may be other options:

  • telephone based bereavement support
  • email based bereavement support
  • web video based bereavement support

If you are feeling alone and stranded following the loss of a loved one, I do hope you find the comfort you are looking for through the above.

Your own bereavement support resources

Have you come across other resources that have helped you or others you know?

On Google+, share your grief and bereavement support resources as well as your own thoughts on the above.