I know a woman who lost her young son to cancer about 9 months ago. The little boy spent more of his life fighting his illnesses than he did being a little boy. When he began the last battle of his brief life, his mother set up a Facebook page where she chronicled the exhausting and heartbreaking journey. She shared the painful decisions she made with her husband to end treatment as well as her son's final days at home.
She continues to post updates as she attempts to navigate the new landscape of her loss. There are days she finds it hard to stop crying. There are days she finds it difficult to get out of bed. She tells us, her readers, when someone tries to pass off a hurtful comment as advice. As the months have passed, however, she has started to share something else: flashes of happiness. She laughed when her three-year-old daughter started a snowball fight at the cemetery and lobbed a snowball at her brother's picture. She was proud when her husband continued to donate platelets. She was delighted with the present her daughter made for her daddy. And yesterday, she posted a good night to her son along with a little song, "You Are My Sunshine."
My friend may not realize it but she is sharing lessons on non-attachment. Grieving is a long and difficult process but we often add to our own suffering. Sometimes we have a moment of happiness or pleasure but temper our enjoyment by observing how our lost loved one can no longer experience these things. Sometimes we even sabotage moments of joy or beauty by feeling guilty. But sometimes, when these wonderful moments come, our minds clear and we do what is correct at that instant: We laugh, we marvel, we play. This is living mindfully.
In that numbing world of grief, what is our correct action, moment to moment? When it is time to cry, we cry. When it is time to laugh, we laugh. A breath. Clear mind. Cry. A breath. Clear mind. Do the laundry. A breath. Clear mind. Throw a snowball.
My friend is a refugee on a path through a sorrowful wilderness. She does not know her destination. But she knows the next step,and she takes it--and the next and the next. She is on her way.