There have been many grieving parents and loved ones who have commented on my post about Philip Seymour Hoffman. My heart aches for them.
While watching a documentary the other day about the spiritual teacher Ram Dass, approximately 13 minutes in, parents from Ashland, Oregon tell of the loss of their 11 yr. old daughter. The mother then reads a letter they received from their friend Ram Dass. I was so moved by the letter that I stopped the film and copied the it word for word (errors in punctuation are mine).. I share it here in hopes that his words also touch the hearts of those who are grieving and have shared their experiences with us all.
Here is the letter in its entirety:
From the 2001 documentary, FIERCE GRACE, about the western Hindu teacher Ram Dass (formerly Harvard professor Richard Alpert, PhD).
Steve and Anita,
Rachel finished her brief work on earth and left the stage in a manner that leaves those of us left behind with a cry of agony in our hearts as the fragile threads of faith are dealt with so violently.
Is anyone strong enough to stay conscious through such teachings as you are receiving? Probably very few, and even they would only have a whisper of equanimity and spacious peace midst the screaming trumpets of their rage, grief, horror, and desolation.
I cannot assuage your pain with any words, nor should I, for your pain is Rachel’s legacy to you. Not that she or I would inflict such pain by choice, but there it is. And it must burn its purifying way to completion.
You may emerge from this ordeal more dead than alive, for something within you dies when you bear the unbearable. And it is only in that dark night of the soul that you are prepared to see as God sees, and to love as God loves.
Now is the time to let your grief find expression. No false strength. Now is the time to sit quietly and speak to Rachel and thank her for being with you these few years and to encourage her to go on with her work, knowing that you will grow in compassion and wisdom from this experience.
In my heart I know that you and she will meet again and again and recognize the many ways in which you have known each other. And when you meet, you will in a flash know what now it is not given to you to know, why this had to be the way it was. Your rational minds cannot understand what has happened. But your hearts, if you can keep them open to God, with find their own intuitive way.
Rachel came through you to do her work on earth, which included her manner of death. Now her soul is free and the love that you can share with her is invulnerable to the winds of changing time and space. In that deep love include me too.
So much love,