We can’t always move on from grief; we need to sometimes move on with grief

02.18 We can’t always move on from grief; we need to sometimes move on with grief

When we lose a loved one, grief can overwhelm us. If we keep grieving, well-meaning friends may advise us to move on. But sometimes moving on seems impossible.

Can Gita wisdom help us address such grief? Yes, by outlining a three-level vision of the self: body, mind and soul. This vision has two pertinent implications.

The mind is similar to the body: Bereavement is a wound to our mind. The mind is a material element; it is similar to, albeit subtler than, the material elements that comprise our body (Bhagavad-gita 07.04). When the body is wounded, wounds differ in their severity and longevity; some wounds heal fully with time, whereas some wounds leave lifelong effects. We can’t move on from lifelong wounds; we need to learn to move on with them. Similarly, some losses may wound us so deeply that we may never move on from them; the associated memories may always trigger sorrow. Still, we can learn to move on with them.  For learning that, the next Gita insight can help.

The soul is different from the body: While the body is destructible, the soul is indestructible (02.18). Our loved one – their soul – continues to exist after bodily death. They have transited to another level of existence, a level conducive for their spiritual evolution. Understanding that they live on can allay our fears about their fate. Contemplating that they would want us to live fully, not mournfully, we can strengthen our will to heal.

Thereafter, when grief hits us, we can see it as a part of our part – a wound in our mind – not as a hole that swallows us whole. By thus re-envisioning grief, we can move on with it.  

Think it over:

  • The mind is similar to the body – what does this imply for our emotional wounds?
  • The soul is different from the body – how can this strengthen our will to heal?
  • To move on with grief, how can Gita wisdom help us re-envision grief?


02.18: The material body of the indestructible, immeasurable and eternal living entity is sure to come to an end; therefore, fight, O descendant of Bharata.


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