HELPING AFTER DEATH 321 people have used and found helpful is a variation on the method I explained for completing unfinished business. No matter how long ago your loved one died, you will find this most effective. Visualize that all the buddhas and enlightened beings are in the sky above and around you, shining down their rays of compassionate light and giving you their support and blessing. In their presence grieve and say what you have to say, what is really in your heart and mind, to your loved one who has died. Visualize that the person who is dead is looking at you with a greater love and understanding than he or she ever had while alive. Know that the dead person wants you to understand that he or she loves you and forgives you for whatever you may have done, and wants to ask for and receive your forgiveness. Allow your heart to open and put into words any anger, any feelings of hurt, you may have been harboring, and let go of them completely. With your whole heart and mind, let your forgiveness go out toward the dead person. Tell him or her of your forgiveness; tell him or her of the regrets you feel for all the pain you may have caused. Now feel with your whole being his or her forgiveness and love streaming toward you. Know in the depths of yourself that you are lovable and deserve to be forgiven, and feel your grief dissolve. At the end of the practice, ask yourself if you can now truly say farewell and really let go of the person. Imagine the person turning and leaving, and then conclude by doing the phowa, or another practice for helping the dead. This practice will give you the chance of showing your love once more, doing something to help the person who has died, and completing and healing the relationship in your heart. You can learn so much, if you let yourself, from the grief and loss of bereavement. Bereavement can force you to look at your life directly, compelling you to find a purpose in it where there may not have been one before. When suddenly you find yourself alone after the death of someone you love, it can feel as if you are being given a new life and are being asked "What will you do with this life? And why do you wish to continue living?" Loss and bereavement can also remind you sharply what can happen when in life you do not show your love and
322 THE TIBETAN BOOK OF LIVING AND DYING appreciation, or ask for forgiveness, and so can make you far more sensitive to your loved ones who are alive. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross said, "What I try to teach people is to live in such a way that you say those things while the other person can still hear it." 9 And Raymond Moody, after his life's work in near-death research, wrote: "I have begun to realize how near to death we all are in our daily lives. More than ever now I am very careful to let each person I love know how I feel." 10 So my heartfelt advice to those in the depths of grief and despair after losing someone they dearly loved is to pray for help and strength and grace. Pray you will survive and discover the richest possible meaning to the new life you now find yourself in. Be vulnerable and receptive, be courageous, and be patient. Above all, look into your life to find ways of sharing your love more deeply with others now.