When my baby was resuscitated, we followed her ambulance to Children’s Hospital; my eyes were suddenly ripped opened to a new, raw, sad and treacherous world. A world filled with guilt, anxiety, PTSD and loss.
The suffering of so many children, parents of children, siblings, stuck in the hospital, followed immediately by watching the suffering of so many bereaved parents in a support group.
I cannot erase the immensely sad stories of lost children from my mind- not that I want to, I will cherish those stories of those angels that I was blessed to hear about –yes it is ironic and wrong to feel blessed because I also wished I never had to have shared stories with these other parents nor them to me I am sure.
I just cannot imagine my thoughts previously…
Had I ever wondered about sick kids? Or thought about the number of bereaved parents that keep their secret in their heart because there never is an appropriate opening for one to mention their lost child.
Did my mind ever realize all the suffering around me or was I just living day to day not thinking not feeling not knowing? Maybe just pretending.
I remember the summer before Lily was born, the summer before my life was changed forever, my two boys and I were at a park and beside the park there was construction; a beautifully large tree was being smashed over and over by a bulldozers claw- it couldn’t quite run it down, I started crying, it was one of the saddest things and I was witnessing it.
This enormous tree that did nothing but give us free, fresh air was being ripped from the ground, as the claw slammed down over and over I found myself shaking I was so upset at the sight of this. My older son asked me what was wrong. I told him why I thought it was sad humans clear cut forests for development and even though it is sometimes needed, they need to realize those old trees are needed too; that there must be a better way. Especially when all that is re-planted in its wake are dingy, floppy, tinny ‘road trees’ that never grow to the vastness of the ones they tear down.
That tree now symbolizes the beginning of my journey into accepting suffering. My eyes, my heart, being opened to the real world.
All I see is suffering, love, then suffering but I also know I read when I first was intrigued with Buddhism that – “Life is suffering” This statement is supposed to sum up the four noble truths of Buddhism.
However, Buddha didn’t speak English, so he didn’t use the English word, “suffering.” What he said, according to the earliest scriptures, is that life is dukkha.
Dukkha– is Pali a variation of Sanskrit, it means: anything temporary is dukkha, including happiness. And really isn’t everything temporary? The Buddha taught there are three main categories of dukkha. These are:
- Suffering or pain (dukkha-dukkha)
- Impermanence or change (viparinama-dukkha)
- Conditioned states (samkhara-dukkha)
Accepting we are impermanent has helped me accept my daughter’s death. Accepting suffering is life has also helped me to be more empathetic and “real”. Life in North America is very much self oriented; me, me, me, what I want! What do I get! What I think I want will make me happy!
But life is not about seeking material things to make us happy it is about realizing and accepting we are impermanent blips in this universe and ultimately being a good person will make you happy. Helping others when you can, being honest and real all the time but mostly loving those around you- because as the hilarious Louis C.K says- if you’re not in front of me you could be dead.
We must accept our suffering in able to accept our happy moments.
We must understand that everything that lives- dies.
Nothing is forever- All is Dukkha
And that is ok.
Because tomorrow after the rain fades away the sun will show and a new flower will sprout.