Abbey friend Rashika Stephens shares this Dharma insight with the hope that it may help others who are facing grief. 

I never thought that death could breathe life into the idea of compassion.

I always thought of the pain of grief as a by-product of losing something you cherish but it is so much more. The pain that comes with grief can be the avenue by which the heart can truly be opened.

When my aunt died I felt this overwhelming amount of pain that was due not to me losing someone I deeply cherished like I thought but because I became cognizant of the pain of others that knew her. Through having lost my mother, I knew her daughter’s pain. Through losing an aunt, I knew my cousins’ pain. Though losing a friend, I knew her friends’ pain.

At that moment their suffering became more unbearable than my own and at that moment I began to know compassion. Then my mind began to go beyond that to think that all beings have known or will know death in some way, so if everyone will feel this unbearable pain why not have compassion for them as well.

Birth, aging, sickness & ultimately death plague us all. If we must all experience it, why not let that experience open our heart.

– Rashika Stephens