I read the following shortly after my husband died.I don’t have the emotional and spiritual strength of Ajahn Brahm, the author, but I found his words incredibly inspiring and I have the greatest admiration for him and the Buddhist philosophy. For these reasons I would like to share it with you:
My own father died when I was only 16. I loved him very much and still do. Yet I never cried at his funeral, nor have I cried since. I didn’t feel like crying. It took me many years to understand how I felt at the time. Now I use that understanding as a guide on how to die, with joy. This is my understanding.
As a young man, I loved music. All types of music whether classical or rock, jazz or folk. I would spend many an evening in the concert halls and clubs of central London enjoying some of the best orchestras and bands, musicians and singers that our world had to offer. London was a great place to grow up if you liked music.
When the concert was to end, I would stand up with the others, clapping and shouting for more. Often, the orchestra or band would play on for a few minutes. But eventually they had to stop and I had to return home. As I remember walking out of the concert halls late in the evening, it always seemed to be raining in London, in that most miserable manner called “drizzle”. It was cold, wet and gloomy, and I knew that I probably would never get to see that great orchestra again. Yet even in the miserable damp darkness of the night, I never felt sad. I never dropped into despair. Instead I was elated and inspired by the great music I had just had the privilege to hear. What a stirring crescendo, what a magnificent performance, what a wonderful experience! I was light years away from the gloom surrounding the London night.
That is the only way I can describe how I felt when my own father died. It was such a short recital, a mere sixteen years. I was clapping and cheering for more at the end. My dad kept playing a little while longer and, in truth, it was a marvellous crescendo to his life. As I walked out of the crematorium in Mortlake, West London, after his funeral service, I clearly remember that it was drizzling and very cold. Yet I never felt sad at all. I felt inspired, uplifted and deeply moved. “Dad, that was a wonderful performance. That was a tremendous concert that you played in front of your son. I will never forget those fugues and cadenzas and the deep feeling that you gave to your symphony. You were a maestro of life. How lucky I was to have been at your concert”. I was inspired, not sad. I felt deep gratitude not grief. I felt I had witnessed one of the great lives of my era.
That is how one can die joyfully, and joyfully look at the death of a dear one. In one’s centre one knows that: “Dear loved one, dearest friend, the door of my heart will forever be open to you, no matter what you ever do, even if you die”. Even in death, you let them go. Such selfless love is freeing. Liberating the one who must leave you, and freeing one’s self from all sadness.