It’s natural to grieve the loss of a loved one as we adjust to living without their physical presence and reflecting only on memories. All cultures have different ways of handling these times.
Buddhists follow a specific tradition for death and grieving, often referred to as the “49 Days.” Buddhists believe in reincarnation, and pray for the deceased for 49 days following one’s passing, the time in which the soul will remain in transit until the spirit is reborn into a new life.
Throughout Buddhist doctrine, it is said that the final moment of the soul’s consciousness is the most important moment of our lives. When this final moment of life is in the most positive state of mind, the dying person can easily find their way into their next state of rebirth as they leave the present life behind. It is believed that as soon as the death of the body has taken place, the soul goes into a state of trance. During this trance, the soul has not become aware that it is in fact dead. At the end of this trance period, the dying person will finally see a brilliant light, and if they can welcome this intense light, the individual will become comforted and conscious that death has occurred. The deceased person will see all that they have ever done and witness thoughts as images passing in front of them. This is a time for that person to check their consciousness and digest their karma.
The final stage of death is the process of seeking another birth. All of the recent thoughts and processing direct the person to choose new parents, who will create for them their next body to inhabit. During this 49 day period of transition, loved ones, family, and friends are instructed to grieve and pray for a successful rebirth for the soul that is in the process of reincarnating. Not only does this practice guide the departed soul, it also soothes those in mourning.
If you have experienced the loss of a loved one, utilizing the Buddhist period of grieving, you can perform this meditation daily, for 49 days, to productively process your grief and assist with the departed soul’s transition into a new incarnation.
1. Gather a photograph of your loved one that has recently passed. Place it on a small table, or in front of you as you are in a comfortable seated position.
2. While looking at the photograph, think of them and allow yourself to feel your eyes begin to water. Maybe the tip of your nose burns, or you get the feeling of being choked up. Do not interfere with this feeling, but instead encourage the sadness and sorrowful emotions. Cry as much as needed. Allow yourself to feel however you are naturally feeling. Demonstrate with sincerity the love and honor you feel for them.
3. You are welcome to add words or speak to the departed one, expressing how much you love them and will miss their physical presence.
4. Transition your loved one to a new level by witnessing them in their previous physical form. See them as they were, just before their passing, and affirm to them that they will move forward, adopting another form.
5. Next, visualize them as they evolve into a ball of white light.
6. The transition further continues as you see them evolve into a new physical form, born into a physical body and in a new life form as an infant. Continue this visualization for as long as you’d like, to the age of 6 or 60. What dreams might they want to accomplish in this next life? Did they ever mention “If I could do it all over again, this is what I’d do…”? See them doing that exact thing. Imagine them taking on a wonderful rebirth in which the spiritual growth, lessons and enlightenment will continue. (If you do not hold a similar Buddhist belief of an afterlife, visualize the soul peacefully resting in a Heaven as you let them go.)
Perhaps you ‘re familiar with the story of the woman who came to the Buddha in great despair, carrying in her arms her dead child, begging the Buddha to return the child to life. The Buddha instructed her to “Bring to me a mustard seed from a house where no one has ever died, and I will fulfill your wish.” For 49 days the woman frantically attempted to search for such a seed, and could not find any household in which no one had ever died. Suddenly, she realized the universality of death, and that death led to the awakening and further enlightenment of the soul. Faithfully, Marin ext. 5113