Accepting Death and Dying As a Buddhist

Accepting Death and Dying As a Buddhist (from thoughts regarding my wife & her passing)

In the course of blogging I want to serve people who are struggling with life’s lessons regarding aging and the final transition of dying with peace and dignity. Blessings to all of us who are on the path…


While confronting the challenges of mortality, I find myself engaged in emotional swings and wonder how an accomplished Buddhist might respond to the death of family member…


Does a practicing and accomplished Buddhist gracefully accept the death of close friend or family member? Is there a way to unemotionally accept the passing of a friend with the deeply held belief that the transition is nothing more significant than the cycle of day turning to night? Can a Buddhist clearly resolve that there is only joy in the spiritual evolving of a soul as they pass through physical death into the next incarnation?


Beyond the philosophical questions, can I ever truly feel the beauty that death will bring to my loving, graceful wife and not feel the despair in my loss of my close friend/wife? Should I avoid my pain by finding deep acceptance of her destiny in the tradition of a well practiced Buddhist? Will I understand the meaning of emotionally letting go of my fear, sadness, and the void of my loss?


There are times when I feel that I accept and understand the meaning and value of the transition of death, and times when I fight my personal despair. What is the perfect balance of these feelings???… And, will I be able to achieve the ideal balance to learn my lessons of this life?


Perfection and joy in the sadness of loss…


Feeling the release of my loved one from the pain, sorrows and limitations of this life…


Embrace the lightness, unconditional love, consciousness, and feeling of complete connectedness of after-life…


I was young and I was shocked when as a young man of my mid-twenties I received a letter from a person who knew my friend Judy who died while tubing in the snow on Mt. Shasta. The letter described in rational coolness the beauty of her passing into the next plain of consciousness to do her “work.” At the time, my loss and fear made me feel a lack of insight into the writer’s consciousness and separation from the Buddhist principle that was being shared with me… I was uncomfortable and yet attracted to this view of death and dying. Yet, sometimes I feel that I understand and emotionally connect with this insight. It is a freeing of my soul and spirit to spend moments in this consciousness…


How do I maintain this feeling longer? Should I recommend this state of consciousness to other people so they can be free to live without the limitations of fear, sadness, loss, anxiety, and anger regarding the process of death and dying?


Is my sadness a conditioned response to the accepted lack of acceptance of death and dying by my society? Has spiritual evolution and freedom of the soul been discourage by a fear based society that ignores death only to falsely celebrate youth and winning in life? Can I release my own need for drama to allow death a more normal and less emotional spot in my life?


My learning continues as I confront the thoughts and feelings that are so easily avoided by many members of our culture. As you can see, I take religion out of my struggles for consciousness and yet desire to embrace a philosophy born out Eastern beliefs that I do not know much about but somehow find comfort in the feelings of my exposure to this system. I know that far greater minds have contorted while examining these challenges so I accept that I may not have a final answer. There is something special in the struggle and the process engages me.


Please celebrate my struggle and enter into this dance yourself. Any input and feedback is appreciated.




Added perspective from my friend Patricia:


As I read your beautiful writing, something comes to mind for me that I learned from Buddhist Psychotherapist, John Welwood.


“According to Welwood, for the Western mind, this isn’t an either or in this situation, but rather a both/and. It is possible to feel both the beauty of a loved one’s passing, knowing that the absolute truth of the matter is that she is free from suffering and to also feel the relative suffering of your own personal loss. To do anything other than that is to by-pass your own human condition in some essential way and not listen to the wisdom that is inherent in the body. He calls this “spiritual bypassing.” Does this mean that we are conditioned to feel emotions in a certain way that our Eastern counterparts don’t? I don’t know….


I do know that I have moments when I understand and recognize the non-attachment Buddhism teaches, and many more moments when I do not. Mostly what I know is that when I try to force myself to think and/or feel a certain way when I don’t already, I wind up doing a small violence to myself by not acknowledging exactly where I am in any given moment, and then allowing something fresh to appear the next moment.”


Thank you, Patricia.

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