Grieving is hard work — and the time it takes to recover from intense grief can be longer than most people expect. Some people get impatient with the process and don’t want to talk about it anymore, while for others the pain of loss and impermanence is always front and center.
The most important thing we can do is to be able to sit quietly and simply be with the grieving, holding the grief in the tender arms of loving awareness. Then, moments of joy can emerge in the midst of sorrow, along with poignant appreciation for the life and love of the person who is now gone.
Before she became a Zen nun, Rengetsu buried two husbands and all five of her children. She expressed her feelings in poetry:
The impermanence of this floating world
I feel over and over
It is hardest to be the one left behind.