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 Post subject: How one can face the Death and Loss of a dear one?
 Post Posted: Wed Aug 24, 2005 2:12 am 
How one can face the Death and Loss of a dear one?

Q1) How can we help a departed soul in its "last" voyage? What to do and what not to do? My father died in October after a short illness and I see a lot of people die in my professional life?

Q2) I lost my father just a month ago and although he died after a long and painful struggle with cancer, I just am not able to accept his loss. At times, I burst out crying, because I feel so lost and orphaned.

How can one face the death and loss of a dear one?

Why is there death? What is death? Why does it often create a feeling of fear, horror or indignation? These are questions which confront all of us at some point in our lives. A mental understanding of the nature and purpose of death, definitely helps in facing death, (whether one's own or of someone's else), though it does not entirely solve the emotional and psychological problems. Here, however, we will not enter into this aspect of the question.

What happens after Death

The second question which arises is what happens to a person after death. Is there any part of the being which survives? Is there anything like rebirth and if so what does it mean? These again are important and complex questions but we will not enter at length into this topic also here. We will confine ourselves to only two excerpts, one from the Mother and the other from Sri Aurobindo, to give a very brief idea, which would be relevant to our main questions.

"Life is immortal. It is only the body that dissolves." - The Mother

"The soul takes birth each time, and each time a mind, life and body are formed out of the materials of universal Nature according to the soul's past evolution and its need for the future.

When the body is dissolved, the vital goes into the vital plane and remains there for a time, but after a time the vital sheath disappears. The last to dissolve is the mental sheath. Finally the soul or psychic being retires into the psychic world to rest there till a new birth is close.

This is the general course for ordinarily developed human beings. There are variations according to the nature of the individual and his development. For example, if the mental is strongly developed, then the mental being can remain; so also can the vital, provided they are organised by and centred around the true psychic being; they share the immortality of the psychic.

The soul gathers the essential elements of its experiences in life and makes that its basis of growth in the evolution; when it returns to birth it takes up with its mental, vital, psychical sheaths so much of its Karma as is useful to it in the new life for further experience." - Sri Aurobindo

Heaven and Hell

There is one more important question as to whether there is anything like Heaven and Hell to which the soul has to go after death. Here is one short excerpt from Sri Aurobindo.

"Hell and Heaven are often imaginary states of the soul or rather of the vital which it constructs about it after its passing. What is meant by hell is a painful passage through the vital or lingering there, as for instance, in many cases of suicide where one remains surrounded by the forces of suffering and turmoil created by this unnatural and violent exit. There are, of course, also worlds of mind and vital worlds which are penetrated with joyful or dark experiences. One may pass through these as the result of things formed in the nature which create the necessary affinities, but the idea of reward or retribution is a crude and vulgar conception which is a mere popular error." - Sri Aurobindo

The Right Attitude

Now we come to our main question: "How do we deal with the passing away of someone extremely close?" Here are a few excerpts from Sri Aurobindo and the Mother which can give us strength and help us to take a right and deeper attitude:

"What has happened must now be accepted calmly as the thing decreed and best for his soul's progress from life to life, though not the best in human eyes which look only at the present and at outside appearance. For the spiritual seeker death is only a passage from one form of life to another, and none is dead but only departed. Look at it as that and shaking from you all reactions of vital grief, - that cannot help him in his journey, - pursue steadfastly the path to the Divine"


"I can understand the shock your wife's catastrophic death must have been to you. But you are now a seeker and sadhak of the Truth and must set your mind to rise above the normal reactions of the human being and see things in a larger greater light.

Regard your lost wife as a soul that was progressing through the vicissitudes of the life of Ignorance - like all others here; in that progress things happen that seem unfortunate to the human mind and a sudden accidental or violent death cutting short prematurely this always brief spell of terrestrial experience we call life seems to it especially painful and unfortunate. But one who gets behind the outward view knows that all that happens in the progress of the soul has its meaning, its necessity, its place in the series of experiences which are leading it towards the turning-point where one can pass from the Ignorance to the Light. He knows that whatever happens in the Divine Providence is for the best, even though it may seem to the mind otherwise.

Look on your wife as a soul that has passed the barrier between two states of existence. Help her journey towards her place of rest by calm thoughts and call to the Divine Help to aid her upon it. Grief too long continued does not help but delays the journey of the departed soul. Do not brood on your loss, but think only of her spiritual welfare.

One can help the departed souls by one's good will or by occult means, if one has the knowledge. The one thing that one should not do is to hold them back by sorrow for them or longing or by anything else that would pull them nearer to earth or delay their journey to their place of rest. "
- Sri Aurobindo

How should the news of death be received, especially when it is someone close to us?

"Say to the Supreme Lord: "Let Thy Will be done", and remain as peaceful as possible.

If the departed one is a person one loves, one should concentrate one's love on him in peace and calm, for that is what can most help the one who has departed. " - The Mother

Ceremonies and Rites

There is one last question about the value of the ceremonies and rites which are performed for the dead. In India they are called sraddha which are very commonly performed. Here are two answers from
Sri Aurobindo and the Mother:

"It is really for the vital part of the being that sraddha and rites are done - to help the being to get rid of the vital vibrations which still attach to the earth or the vital worlds, so that it may pass quickly to its rest in the psychic peace." - Sri Aurobindo

"Yes, it is for this reason that in all countries and in all religions, it is recommended that for a period of at least seven days after someone's death, people should gather and think of him. Because when you think of him with affection (without any inner disorder, without weeping, without any of those distraught passions), if you can be calm, your atmosphere becomes a kind of beacon for him, and when he is attacked by hostile forces (I am speaking of the vital being of course, not the psychic being which goes to take rest), he may feel altogether lost, not know what to do and find himself in great distress; then he sees through affinity the light of those who are thinking of him with affection and he rushes there. It happens almost constantly that a vital formation, a part of the vital being of the dead person (or at times the whole vital if it is well organised) takes shelter in the aura, the atmosphere of the people or the person who loved him. There are people who always carry with them a part of the vital of the person who is gone. That is the real utility of these so called ceremonies, which otherwise have no sense." - The Mother

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