Author | Lost & Found in India

Do Not Go Gently Into That Good Night…

I wonder sometimes how much, for some people, is the grieving process anything much at all to do with the dearly departed, and more about the screaming emptiness of that space inside called “ME ME ME.”


I’m sorry. We’re meant to have compassion: and we do. We’re meant to not say some things at such inappropriate times: and we don’t. We’re meant to ignore the gaping holes of obvious hypocrisy that overflow at times like this: and we do. 

But the truth doesn’t hide for long. Indeed, it usually finds the most wrong time to enter the room and stamp its often dirty feet, leaving marks that everyone can see but which no one is sure how to clean, or who is meant to do it.

 The thing is, death is natural. It’s part of life. It’s part of the process of the soul, one step in the eternal dance, or any other way you want to describe it. But it is what it is, and in truth, it’s no big deal. So when the time comes for those connected to the dead or departed to show their grief, I’m always curious how much of that process is about the dead, and not about them.

 I’m willing to concede that for many, the process of death is shrouded in mystery and questions unanswered.


“More importantly, what should I wear??!”

Their grief is genuine: it speaks of loss and pain and separation. That is, after all, the essence of the grieving process. But beyond a certain point, I ask myself what is truly triggering the suffering.

In the Bhagavad-gita Krishna says “the wise grieve for neither the living nor the dead.” Apart from some sadness of separation, there is no other reason to grieve the loss of someone. So what we see in the guise of “grief” is just another display of “all about me.” For the person who is still living when a close one dies, beyond that element of sadness of separation that is inherent, perhaps the essence of grief (albeit a variable proportion), it’s about my feelings, my loss, my life, how it impacts me: ME.

I’m realising how much I’ve watched people take the spotlight at the expense of the departed; one whose place was always overshadowed by the one who has died is now centre stage, and reluctant to move on: “it’s all about me.” Another who is angry and holding onto the situation because dammit that person had no right to leave and make me actually work to look after myself: “it’s all about me.”

People will be angry reading this. Why? Because when you try to take sense gratification away from a fool, the response is anger. And because only an honest man can hear the truth. Saying things out loud shatters peoples’ glass palaces, knocks down their castles in the sky, destroys the carefully constructed illusions they hide behind—even from themselves.

 Some of it’s a more sublte form of self-absorption: just plain guilt. Guilt that you should have been nicer to that person when they were alive, spent more time with them, valued them, loved them, said sorry, forgiven them, wanted them, even. Guilty that you were too “unwise” to not see the inevitable death that lurks at every corner waiting to swipe someone: us, someone else, but always someone. Foolish, foolish ignorance…

There’s no need to make this any longer than it is. In short, grief is not all about you. So get over yourself. Put your ego and your self-absorbed busy-ness to rest for a while, and let it go.

The wise grieve neither for the living nor the dead. While you’re grieving a little for your dearly departed, the truth is you’re grieving more for the living: you.

4 comments on “Do Not Go Gently Into That Good Night…

  1. Spilling Ink
    March 24, 2014

    I can never feel sad for the loss of the departed; I always feel like they’ve just entered another stage in “life”. What gets me every time is the “show” that’s put on by some of those who are left behind, and the sometimes almost blatant competition to shed the most tears.

    • Braja
      March 24, 2014

      I agree, there’s no real sadness for the departed really, apart from missing them, feeling a loss of their association or company…that is truly a sad thing, the sense of separation. But the “show,” oy vay…:))

  2. Bianca
    March 24, 2014

    Ofcourse it’s all about “me”, to mention that is stating the obvious: the departed has after all departed!
    In my view, grieving is like cutting an umbilical cord between the living and the dead. You may want to do it fast. But with the cutting, the bond between two souls is not gone.
    I hear you on the guilt part. Not too long ago, we cremated my cousin. The pain and tears seemed to be communal, contagious. That’s where I stopped and put into practice what I learned through yoga: send love and compassion through the heart center, especially to my uncle, aunt and cousins. The way I left the gathering was so different from the way I arrived!

    • Braja
      March 24, 2014

      Actually I don’t agree that “it’s all about me” is “stating the obvious,” as you put it. I can guarantee, Bianca, that those who are indulging in the all-about-me-ness are utterly convinced their excessive displays are indications of their depth or whatever else it is they deem significant to put on display at such times. It’s obvious for those aware of it, yes, but not at all for those deluded by their own performances…! Agreed, it’s certainly about those of us left behind; we’re the ones feeling separation and loss. That much is a given. I’m emphasising more about the excessive dramas that some cling to in the form of grief…

      I love your self-control and change of direction during your grieving…that takes some real focus, well done Bianca…xo

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This entry was posted on March 24, 2014 by in A Writer by Trade, Wisdom & Beauty.

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