Sorrow and Loss

It seems that a combination of things has caused me to think about aging and death a lot lately; having an empty nest, turning 63, some of my friends getting sick. I’m at my eldest son’s graduation from college – tomorrow it’s cap and gown, but underneath is this sorrow for my life passing and the grief of letting my children go and their entrance into this crazy, painful world.

I am traveling for 12 days to pick up my kids at their respective colleges, packing them up, witnessing them leaving their cultivated life at college and entering the unknown. Two things that are hard for me as a mom is to keep my mouth shut about advice, and to witness their pain without trying to fix it. Sometimes on this trip, I have felt so restless that zazen has been hard for me and yet I know that if I don’t have a contemplative time, I really can’t handle this life of mine. So in the mornings, I have been meditating with Divine Abode phrases and they are helping me so much. First, to find my center in the middle of my changing life and second, they will pop up during the day and help direct my actions and my speech, which usually means to be more silent around my adult children. I need and want to let them go and to allow them their own choices. Here are some of the phrases I am using, which are taken mainly from a list made by Sharon Salzberg and Joan Halifax. I believe they are listed in Joan Halifax’s book, “Being with dying, cultivating compassion in the presence of death” and on the Upaya website.

The 4 Divine abodes:

  1. Loving-kindness
  2. Compassion
  3. Joy
  4. Equanimity

Here are some phrases that I am currently using:

Loving-kindness phrases:
May the power of lovingkindness sustain me.
May love heal my body and mind.
I care about your pain and suffering, may I be present for it.
May I find the inner resources to be present for suffering
May I find grace in the midst of suffering.
Serving others:
May I offer my care and presence unconditionally, knowing it may be met by gratitude, indifference, anger or anguish.
May I find the inner resources to truly be able to give.
May I find peace and strength that I may use my resources to help others.
May I accept things as they are.
May I remain in peace and let go of my expectations.
I care about your pain and suffering, and your release from suffering depends on your choices and your own karma.
I wish you happiness and peace and I cannot make your choices for you.
On dying and loss:
May I and all beings live and die in ease.
May I be at peace with living and dying.
May I fully face life and death, loss and sorrow.