Each week, spiritual teacher Deepak Chopra responds to Oprah.com users' questions with enlightening advice to help them live their best lives.
I have always been a very spiritually inclined person. For the past three years I have seen very close relatives die of natural causes, murder and now suicide. I have learned the process of grieving, but with this one it has just left me with so many questions, about life in itself. I have always believed in destiny and Karma.
How do I make this type of death make sense to my spiritual and emotional grounding?
It sounds like you have found a certain solace through the ideas of destiny and karma to help you come to terms with loss in your past. However, life events can not always be easily understood and made sense of. Being at ease with the uncertainty and mysteriousness of life is one of the greatest gifts of wisdom. This suicide may be an indication that it is time for you to let go of the need to make sense of this.
You can grieve, heal and find peace even if your mind is unable to explain or comprehend why something like this happened. If your healing and growth is dependent upon philosophies and spiritual beliefs, then you are limiting your evolution to your conditioned mind—the very thing you are trying to move beyond.
So try to use this situation as a way to accept a truth and reality that is outside the reach of your understanding—and that is okay. From here you should be able to let the natural grieving process begin.
About five years ago, I lost my 21-year-old son to suicide. Of course I was devastated. I was a single parent with Dustin until he was about 12 years old. I can't help but feel that some of the choices I made affected his life in a negative way. I have a lot of guilt, and I miss him terribly. Although it has gotten easier to live with this loss, I do feel stuck in my grief a lot of the time, and I really want to move on with my life and live again. I know my son lives on the other side—I get signs from him, and I've had friends that have been to psychics tell me different things. I know it in my head, but dealing with it in my heart and soul is a different thing. I need to release myself from this guilt and move on with my life and do what I believe I am supposed to be doing now that Dustin is gone. He was so loved, and I still get emails from his friends telling me how much he helped them in their lives. Please, how do I let go of the guilt and go on with my life—not just go through the motions, but really start to live again?
— Linda B., Sun City, California
I get the feeling you are actually living a life that is productive, not crippled by grief. If you are asking how to be entirely grief-free, most mothers would attest that it isn't possible. Accept that grief can be a normal, manageable emotion. Your bond with Dustin is based on love, and when love is lost, it can still be love, but with associations of sadness, regret and guilt. So the realistic question is this: Can you have love-with-grief that is life-enhancing for you? I think the answer is yes. It's a matter of making the love always greater than the grief.
May I suggest turning to productive expressions of love for your departed son? Here are a few:
- Keep a journal in which you enter the feelings you have for him every day. Fill this journal with loving remembrances, but also be honest about whatever emotion is present that day. Be complete and thorough. When you have finished an entry, bless your son and do something you really enjoy.
- Set aside a few minutes every day to send love to your son and ask for love in return. Make this silent communion a ritual that only you know about.
- Talk about your son with his friends when they send emails. Don't try to isolate yourself. Shared feelings become easier to manage.
- Go to group meetings with other people who are grieving. Make it your intention to help them more than to help yourself. Being of service helps ease painful feelings.
- Identify the things that bring you down when they are about your son. Some people may bring out these feelings, or maybe it's photos or memorabilia—anything that makes grief sharper. Minimize such experiences. Indulging in the suffering of grief is not what you are about.
I hope these suggestions help. Grief is always difficult, but it is part of being human, and learning to allow grief to move as it wants to is important.