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Thread: Sitting through grief

  1. #1
    Junior Member Rezdogdad's Avatar
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    Sitting through grief

    I recently lost two dogs in the last month and a half. For context, I consider my dogs members of my family, and I'm experiencing incredible grief at their passing. When I can bring myself to sit, which is not often, my mind just keeps coming back to the loss and the grief. It's so emotionally painful I'm unable to sit for very long.

    Has anyone else experienced this obstacle? Any thoughts on sitting through the grief?

    Thank you, and deep Gasshos,

    Eric/Shoho

  2. #2
    Senior Member Clark's Avatar
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    Much Metta to you on the loss of your furry friends. I myself am quite fond of my cat. I am not qualified to answer your question on "sitting" through grief, but you might want to consider getting some counseling, exercising or some other therapeutic approach to healing this. They all have their place too.
    Gassho, and condolences
    C

  3. #3
    Senior Member Entai's Avatar
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    Shoho,
    I am so sorry for your loss. It's terribly hard to lose a loved one. I lost a 4-legged family member last year and it still hurts. Sitting with it and letting the thoughts go isn't easy. My only real advice (for what it's worth) is to be kind to yourself. Much metta.

    Gassho, Entai

  4. #4
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Eric,

    So sorry to hear this. I lost a beloved pet late last year and it still affects me greatly. All I can say, just as a fellow Treeleafer, not so much as a priest in training, is to feel the emotions fully. If you need to stop sitting to cry, do so. Still when you can. It's ok.

    Much metta to you and to all who were touched by your companions. Much metta to all who suffer from a broken heart.

    Gassho,
    Dosho
    Shudo Dosho - Ordained Priest-in-Training
    With your help and guidance from Jundo & Taigu
    I am learning, but please take what I say with a
    grain of salt, especially in matters of the Dharma.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    So sorry, Shoho. I love my dog, too. He's so sweet, smart, and well behaved. It will be really tough when it's his time.

    I have felt intense grief for long periods after a few deaths, but I was not practicing at the time, so I do not know what advice I can offer, but I am giving you and your dogs. my metta
    迎 Geika

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Rezdogdad View Post
    I recently lost two dogs in the last month and a half. For context, I consider my dogs members of my family, and I'm experiencing incredible grief at their passing. When I can bring myself to sit, which is not often, my mind just keeps coming back to the loss and the grief. It's so emotionally painful I'm unable to sit for very long.

    Has anyone else experienced this obstacle? Any thoughts on sitting through the grief?

    Thank you, and deep Gasshos,

    Eric/Shoho
    Ah a fellow dog lover! I have 2 dogs, used to have 3; she was our middle child My wife and I don't have kids, but we have dogs. They are definitely part of the family, and they add so much. When we board them, if we have to go on trips, when we come home, prior to picking them up, the apartment is just empty.

    A couple of years ago, during Jukai practice actually during the period when I was sewing the Rakusu we had to euthanize our middle dog. She was only 8, and it was crushing. She had what appeared to be a seizure when getting excited from the doorbell. It turned out she had anemia from a mystery disease that prevented her from creating red blood cells. It was immediate, and we were completely helpless.

    What made it extremely difficult is that unlike humans, we didn't have health insurance so we had to basically decide when to stop the path we were on; we just couldn't afford to continue. But I still feel we made the right decision; even if we spent thousands and thousands on chemo it would have only given her 6 months. And she was on anti-cancer meds which weren't helping at all.

    I remember sitting zazen, tears streaming down. I did what you did; I posted something here and asked for metta; the sangha really helps by the way during these times. And so does practice. Sit with your grief.. really don't avoid it. Don't feed it, but just sit there and live through it. That's what I've learned.

    We also held a "Buddhist funeral" with her ashes. We have them in an urn, with a pawprint on it; I lit some incense and candles, and my wife, sis-in law and I all chanted the heart sutra. It was beautiful.

    But I'm telling you, and it's not cliche', they leave prints on our hearts forever.

    I hope you find strength and find some new friends soon, which will never replace them of course, but I couldn't imagine my life without them.

    Gassho,

    Risho
    Last edited by Risho; 02-27-2014 at 10:06 PM.

  7. #7
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    I sat through my last divorce sewing and sitting night and day. I sat with flood of tears and moments of laughter. Beware though, one doesn't sit to heal or process the pain, to escape it or indulge in a self pity binge, one sit with and in the very pain, without manipulating it or judging it. This is a very important point. Practice is useless and zazen is not meant to facilitate our petty pretty small goals. My wife back then ran away with another bloke, your dogs are now dead. We take it raw.And sit .Please, don't escape and every time come back to sitting. Put your mind in the left palm or gently feel your spine going up. Take a deep breath and come back to this.



    Take it easy too, have a stroll, sleep, hug your friends or trees or moments you meet.



    Gassho

    Taigu

    PS: Risho said it all.
    Taigu, teacher at Treeleaf Sangha, was born in 1964, started Zazen early and received Shukke Tokudo in 1983 at age 18 from Rev. Mokusho Zeisler of the Deshimaru Lineage. Received Dharma Transmission from Chodo Cross in 2002. Now resides in Osaka, Japan.

  8. #8
    Hello Eric,

    First off I am so very sorry for your lose. Like others I to have experienced this and know how hard it can be. In 2011 I lost my best friend Charlie ... he was my family and my whole life for 18yrs. In my heart I knew the time was coming and that helped me prepare; to some degree. When he was gone I cried and cried ... I felt empty and alone.

    I have to say the thing that helped me the most was sitting. Sitting allowed me to be with my pain and lose through and through. When I sat I cried and I smiled ... sitting truly gave me the time, the break from life to walk this path and this path alone.

    Be kind to yourself Eric and know we are here for you ... Much metta my friend. =)

    Deep bows
    Shingen
    倫道 真現

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.

  9. #9
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    Hi Eric.

    Sitting through difficult situations is part of life. Just as we embrace joy and happiness, we embrace pain and loss.

    Like the other wise people here have said, all you can do is to sit and be diligent about it. In time pain will wash away and you'll be grateful two wonderful beings shared their life with yours.

    We are always here.

    Gassho,

    Kyonin
    Shuso and Ango leader for September 2014.

    Please remember I am only a priest in training. I could be wrong in everything I say. Slap me if needed.

    The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one. Mr. Spock

  10. #10
    Hi, I lost two Pugs a few years ago. Yoshi and paddington. At one time my girlfriend of 5 years left me for another man, which left me broken, and I remember sitting in my kitchen feeling sorry for myself and worrying about what the future held for me and my pugs, where would we move? what should we do? At that moment I looked over at my pug and he was enjoying a bone so much that he was totally oblivious to my pain and worries of our future. Totally oblivious to a past/future that i so much believed in.He was just bathing in this moment of reality and for a moment I too was free. It struck me.Since than I've always considered them my little zen masters, and quite often I will sit in honour of them, I owe them that.

    Gassho
    Misha
    Last edited by WokiTheCat; 02-28-2014 at 12:18 AM. Reason: Spell error

  11. #11
    Senior Member Troy's Avatar
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    I don't I have anything to add as far as advice that has not been said, just want wish you peace and send you a big virtual hug. :-)

  12. #12
    Hi Eric,

    Yes, those little sentient beings ... We buried our cat in the back field this month.

    I am with what all the wise folks said. Just sit, just cry. Maybe there is some light to be felt amid the tears and pain. If you can, just let the grief be the grief ... just as we let the mountain be the mountain and the window the window. There s a light which shines through each. Let the grief and sadness just be grieving and sadness. When there is hurting, just hurt. There is a Peace that holds all the shattered pieces of a broken heart, always present although often hidden like the sun by clouds.

    As was mentioned, Zen Practice does not preclude other measures to deal with grief, such as support groups. However, grieving is a natural process when we are apart from those we love. The Buddha's early lists of what constitutes " Dukkha" dissatisfaction and suffering includes "separation from the loved". It is not only for people.

    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dhamma/sacca/sacca1/

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 02-28-2014 at 01:52 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  13. #13
    Dear Shoho,

    I am so sorry for your loss.

    I know what you must be going through right now, as I also had a tragic experience in the past and was simply devastated.
    So many wise words here, all I can say is: give yourself time, allow yourself to feel the grief fully. Don't try to suppress anything.
    Try to remember the good times, don't focus exclusively on the last days.

    And when you have a moment of peace, try to remember that nothing really ends - there are just transitions.

    I wish you much strength during this time.
    Take care,

    Gassho,

    Daitetsu
    no thing needs to be added

  14. #14
    Junior Member Rezdogdad's Avatar
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    Thank you everyone for your kind words and thoughtful advice. I'm kind of self-conscious about talking about how I feel about my dogs, since many - maybe most - folks are confused or dismissive of the strength of the bond. So I really appreciate all the metta and condolences even though my friends weren't human. Pain is pain, as far as I can tell.

    Deep gashho,

    Eric/Shoho

  15. #15
    Senior Member Joyo's Avatar
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    Hello Eric, I too am an animal lover, so I understand the pain. I have had some very deep hurts recently due to my parents words and actions. I too have sat with the pain, even cried while I join in with our evening google plus sittings. Sat with pain, with a racing mind, sat through it all. I can't say it's an easy fix, grief never is. And as Taigu mentioned, sitting is not even with a specific goal of fixing the pain. But, speaking from my own experiences, it does help you to treat the pain differently. Thich Nhat Hahn talks about our suffering in this youtube video. This especially spoke to my heart "The practice commanded by the Buddha, go home to yourself, get in touch with it (your suffering), hold is dearly, listen deeply, so you can understand it."


    Much metta to you as you grieve the loss of your beloved dog.

    Gassho,
    Joyo

  16. #16
    So sorry to hear of your loss. I've lost pets, and find that it feels the same to lose a pet as it does any other human. I hope you find peace soon.

    Gassho,

    William


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Rezdogdad View Post
    Thank you everyone for your kind words and thoughtful advice. I'm kind of self-conscious about talking about how I feel about my dogs, since many - maybe most - folks are confused or dismissive of the strength of the bond. So I really appreciate all the metta and condolences even though my friends weren't human. Pain is pain, as far as I can tell.

    Deep gashho,

    Eric/Shoho
    Hello Eric - sorry for your loss.

    I think most of us here are animal lovers and have a strong emotional bond with our pets.

    The grief we feel on losing a pet can feel overwhelming. Our present cat is our ninth and each time we've lost one of our furry friends we felt we could never
    bear to have another. But somehow the pain heals - the pets we lose stay in our hearts for ever and then another little creature enters our lives and we find there is always room in the heart for more love.

    Take care,

    Willow

  18. #18
    Friend of Treeleaf Myozan Kodo's Avatar
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    Eric,
    Much Metta to you. Take care.
    Myozan


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    Myozan Kodo
    Ordained Soto Zen Priest in Training
    Dublin, Ireland

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.
    "Here the way unfolds."

  19. #19
    Hello Eric,

    I know that feeling too well, but the longer we practise raw, like Taigu puts it, the more we have a chance to see that we too share the exact same nature as that which we think "we" lost.
    There will always be pain, but with time we might be able to abandon a self-centered pain and awaken into a vast embracing pain that still has us shed tears, but that doesn't turn away anymore.

    Vast is the robe of liberation.
    Some others might say Allahu Akbar.


    Let's us never shy away from saying and expressing I love you whilst we still can, during the physical manifestation of our loved ones.


    Gassho,

    Hans Chudo Mongen
    Chudo Mongen, Ordained Novice Priest-in-Training

  20. #20
    Eric,

    During the course of two short years I had a serious accident, lost my job and my husband left me. I had to put all 4 of my horses down. Then, a 15 year old boy poisoned my four big, beautiful dogs, one by one. He admitted it and bragged about it to everybody in town. But, since he was 15, he could not be charged without both his parent's permission. So nothing was done. This culminated in a suicide attempt which was very nearly successful.

    For years I was in shock. I just couldn't believe it. But, as time went by, I began to really look at my feelings and figure out what is was about them that made me love them so. I said "Lee, what do you really believe in?" I worked my way thru religion, philosophy, cosmology and neuroscience and what finally came out was simple: I believe in dogs. I believe in looking into a dog's (or horses) eyes and seeing the awareness of that void look back at you. And you know you are not alone.

    I thought about the characteristics and qualities that had made them so special. I realized that if those qualities had meant so much to me, maybe I could encourage the same ones in me, and be able to then give them to other people, as the dogs had given to me.

    There is no easy answer to this. You will hurt. I can only quote Dr. Suess: "Don't cry because it is gone, smile because it happened."

    Gassho,

    Lee

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by Fugu View Post
    Eric,

    During the course of two short years I had a serious accident, lost my job and my husband left me. I had to put all 4 of my horses down. Then, a 15 year old boy poisoned my four big, beautiful dogs, one by one. He admitted it and bragged about it to everybody in town. But, since he was 15, he could not be charged without both his parent's permission. So nothing was done. This culminated in a suicide attempt which was very nearly successful.

    For years I was in shock. I just couldn't believe it. But, as time went by, I began to really look at my feelings and figure out what is was about them that made me love them so. I said "Lee, what do you really believe in?" I worked my way thru religion, philosophy, cosmology and neuroscience and what finally came out was simple: I believe in dogs. I believe in looking into a dog's (or horses) eyes and seeing the awareness of that void look back at you. And you know you are not alone.

    I thought about the characteristics and qualities that had made them so special. I realized that if those qualities had meant so much to me, maybe I could encourage the same ones in me, and be able to then give them to other people, as the dogs had given to me.

    There is no easy answer to this. You will hurt. I can only quote Dr. Suess: "Don't cry because it is gone, smile because it happened."

    Gassho,

    Lee
    ... Oh my ...
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  22. #22
    Gassho,Llee and Eric
    For a moment, nothing happened. Then, after a second or so, nothing continued to happen.

  23. #23
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    Metta for everyone in this thread.
    迎 Geika

  24. #24
    Senior Member Joyo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fugu View Post
    Eric,

    During the course of two short years I had a serious accident, lost my job and my husband left me. I had to put all 4 of my horses down. Then, a 15 year old boy poisoned my four big, beautiful dogs, one by one. He admitted it and bragged about it to everybody in town. But, since he was 15, he could not be charged without both his parent's permission. So nothing was done. This culminated in a suicide attempt which was very nearly successful.

    For years I was in shock. I just couldn't believe it. But, as time went by, I began to really look at my feelings and figure out what is was about them that made me love them so. I said "Lee, what do you really believe in?" I worked my way thru religion, philosophy, cosmology and neuroscience and what finally came out was simple: I believe in dogs. I believe in looking into a dog's (or horses) eyes and seeing the awareness of that void look back at you. And you know you are not alone.

    I thought about the characteristics and qualities that had made them so special. I realized that if those qualities had meant so much to me, maybe I could encourage the same ones in me, and be able to then give them to other people, as the dogs had given to me.

    There is no easy answer to this. You will hurt. I can only quote Dr. Suess: "Don't cry because it is gone, smile because it happened."

    Gassho,

    Lee
    Much metta, I admire your strength.

    Gassho,
    Joyo

  25. #25
    I too feel that sense of loss with you. There is much taught about the stages of grief. Those stages, defined and anticipated only bind us to time. The reality is that we all grieve differently. Do not expect to grieve as others. Only you truly know what is being felt deep within your being. Your precious companions though absent to your natural eyes, are still very much alive in you. Celebrate their being. Allow memories and thoughts of their presence, not their absence. All here, it is apparent, love and respect all life. I am enriched by all that has been written. I hope I have been of some help.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  26. #26
    Junior Member Rezdogdad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fugu View Post
    Eric,

    During the course of two short years I had a serious accident, lost my job and my husband left me. I had to put all 4 of my horses down. Then, a 15 year old boy poisoned my four big, beautiful dogs, one by one. He admitted it and bragged about it to everybody in town. But, since he was 15, he could not be charged without both his parent's permission. So nothing was done. This culminated in a suicide attempt which was very nearly successful.

    For years I was in shock. I just couldn't believe it. But, as time went by, I began to really look at my feelings and figure out what is was about them that made me love them so. I said "Lee, what do you really believe in?" I worked my way thru religion, philosophy, cosmology and neuroscience and what finally came out was simple: I believe in dogs. I believe in looking into a dog's (or horses) eyes and seeing the awareness of that void look back at you. And you know you are not alone.

    I thought about the characteristics and qualities that had made them so special. I realized that if those qualities had meant so much to me, maybe I could encourage the same ones in me, and be able to then give them to other people, as the dogs had given to me.

    There is no easy answer to this. You will hurt. I can only quote Dr. Suess: "Don't cry because it is gone, smile because it happened."

    Gassho,

    Lee

    Thank you, Lee, for sharing your story. It helps to know I'm not alone.

  27. #27
    Senior Member Heion's Avatar
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    Much metta to you. I was sitting with grief earlier. Letting wounds come to the surface that I had long buried under. I noticed that desire for things to be a certain way was causing friction with my life and was what left a state of unhappiness. I know that if I can just give it all up, and let it go, then the mind no longer carries the weight of these burdens. Recently, I have been practicing a lot of yoga and it has helped me see things through a different scope and really heals me in a way. Music is also very therapeutic for me. I do not know if you have a medium of expression which can help you through this time..

    Most of these responses are already great. I do not know if Jundo has anything more to add on to this post.

    With metta,
    Alex

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