Death Of A Loved One

When we lose a loved one, it’s common to question how Krsna could have allowed this to happen. We may think it doesn’t seem right or we don’t deserve it. This can even create resentment, subtly or grossly,  towards Krsna.

Srila  Prabhupada was asked why Krsna created a world in which there is suffering. He immediately replied that you created this world, not Krsna. He gave the example of a prison. Factually, the prison is a creation of criminals, for if there were no criminals, there would be no prison.

It’s important to get grounded with the reality that we, by our desire, have created this world, and because we are here, there is always the potential for suffering. Rather than continuously lament when suffering comes to us or those near to us, we should learn from the pain. We can take it as a reminder that Krsna is showing us that life is impermanent, and that we should be more detached. Thus, we can take reversals as a notice to become more serious about spiritual life.

We are supposed to see Krsna’s hand and kindness in everything, and thus see everything and everyone as guru. By seeing things in this way, we see difficulty as our teacher.

Lamenting when we lose a loved one is natural. Yet, lamenting for years after the loss is not right. This is symptomatic of the mode of ignorance. Arjuna lamented when his son, Abhimanyu, was killed. Yet he continued to fight. He didn’t give into ignorance in the form of depression or the inability to do his duty. He dealt with his emotions in a way that didn’t disturb his bhakti.

We never see great devotees blaming Krsna for reverses in their lives. The challenge we face is that although we accept Krsna consciousness when everything goes well, when it doesn’t we are tempted to give it up or doubt the philosophy. I have heard of devotees giving up their Krsna consciousness because they could not accept a God who would allow a serious tragedy into their lives. Yet, we have a philosophy that states that no one will get something they don’t deserve. It’s easy to believe this when things go well. When they don’t go as we desire, our faith is challenged.

Yet, if only good things happen to everyone, no one would have the impetus to be Krsna consciousness.

Our freedom lies in our choice. We can choose how we respond to difficulty. If we are upset with reversals in life, ultimately we are the ones who view the situation in a way that causes us continued pain.  If we see situations differently, we feel differently. To not choose to respond in a Krsna conscious way is also a choice, the choice not to respond from a higher perspective.

Perhaps the most difficult challenge for us is simply to accept things the way they are. Our frustration, our anxiety, and our unhappiness are usually caused when we cannot accept what is happening to us or to our friends or loved one. Yet the pure devotee not only accepts what comes to him, he thinks he deserves worse. We are taught to follow this line of thought as the basis for receiving Krsna’s mercy.

If we follow our conditioned responses, and do not take responsibility for our feelings, we become products of the influences of lower modes of nature. We must think and live according to our highest ideals, not according to the impulses of the modes.

If the death of a loved one can help us rise to the platform of living more deliberately, it might prove to be one of the greatest learning experiences in our life.