Navigating The Labyrinth Of Grief

BY JEANETTE LENOIR

One day, a woman went to see Buddha. Her infant child had died during the night and she pleaded with Buddha to help her revive her dead child. Buddha sympathized with the devastated woman and told her to go to every home in the village and ask the people living there for black mustard seeds. However, she can only accept the black mustard seeds from homes that have never experienced a loss of a family member or a servant. The distraught mother went to every home in the village to beg for the seeds. Many were willing to give the woman the black mustard seeds, but she could not accept them because each one had lost someone in their home. Exhausted from her search, the woman went back to the Buddha and described how she went door to door looking for the seeds without luck. Buddha then explained that he sent the women to look for the black mustard seeds knowing she would not find them because no one is immune from the conditions of life, and because death is part of life, one is never alone in their grief. And this shared experience eases the path through our sorrow. The woman, still grief-stricken over the loss of her infant child could not comprehend that every home in the village had lost someone they loved, too. Though still mourning the loss of her child, Buddha’s enlightenment helped her find comfort. She went home and buried her child.

You see, like birth, death is a solitary journey that each of us must walk. And how we grieve and cope with death divides people in many ways, including culturally. Some whale in agony and throw themselves on the ground. Others curse God or end their own life due to the inability to cope with the pain of losing someone they love. Different customs and religions tell diverse stories of how Man copes with death, grief and the ceremonies surrounding it. From New Orleans, where death is mourned with celebrations of a life lived, to Africa, India, Asia, South America, the Caribbean’s and West Indies where death comes with strict customs for those grieving the loss of a loved one. The spectrum of grief is vast. And yet, despite knowing it will happen to each of us, death remains taboo in the human mind.

Brooke James is changing that.

When James lost her father to cancer, she found herself drowning in grief. There was no escape from the reminder of her tremendous loss. Even well-meaning condolences wounded like broken glass on delicate skin. She decided to turn her grief into advocacy. Similar to the Buddha’s wisdom shared with the grieving woman, James found solace and community, grieving the loss of her dad. She created a Podcast, widening the avenue people see as taboo: talking about death, planning for life after death and all that comes with the process of grieving. Brooke James became, The Grief Coach.

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