“How does a Buddhist deal with the process of grief and loss?”
The Dealings of a Buddhist
Why should it matter that a Buddhist needs to deal with grief? In what way is that different from the needs of a Catholic? Or an Atheist? The system one adheres to is not a significant factor, as grief may be a reality with or without a system. What matters is the grief; not YOUR grief, and not the Buddhist's grief. Just grief.
There may be stages to this grief, or steps or processes, but all of that is after the fact analyzation. If you are a 'Buddhist dealing with loss,' you are already fighting through a system hoping to cope with grief; you don't need to add to that by expecting a particular unfolding of events.
Of course, it may end up unfurling precisely in the way other's have explained, but that is none of our concern. How it unfolds, after the fact, is important only to the analyzer hoping to use it as a tool in the future.
We'll leave that to them.
Dealing with Grief
I am not sure that it is a matter of “dealing with” grief. This does not mean that the grief is not there. If it is there, it is there.
Takuin can remember - in the past - he would use grief as a way of feeling close to the person that had passed. It wasn’t a necessarily a conscious thought, but the need to be close fueled the grief and kept him attached to both it and the person.
Whenever Takuin would deal with grief, it was always HE and GRIEF, as if it were something apart from the self, or something that suddenly attacked without warning (there is always a warning). But now if there is grief, it is pure and free of attachment. There is nothing that solidifies it into an experience, and nothing that wishes for its continuation.
Grief without attachment is miraculous. When the feeling comes and is allowed to be as it is, there is great beauty there. There is no wasted energy trying to resist, and nothing to tell you things should be different from what they are. It is that grief - pure grief - that holds an unimaginable beauty. It is without the dirty fingers of the controller, and is a full spectrum of feeling untouched by our thoughts and desires.
Untouched grief is beautiful.
Takuin asks you this: What have YOU lost?
Someone has died. Physically, they are no longer part of this world (at least, not in the way we wish for them to be). They'll never again call you on the phone. They'll never again meet you for lunch. They'll never again hold you in their arms.
Again: What have YOU lost? (Takuin is not saying you have, or have not, lost anything.)
Think of what you had while they lived, and what you now have. Tell me the difference. This has nothing to do with what you want or what you feel you should have done. Just look at it and tell me what you have now. You may be able to rattle off one hundred different things you feel YOU have lost.
But again: What have YOU lost?
I want to know.
Whenever you ask this question, you give away your power to find out for yourself. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as long as all you want to do is program your VCR. (Do people still own VCR's?) But why on earth, if one is serious about liberation, would anyone ever ask someone else to give it to them? I can not see the value in this.
Questions and their answers can not be separated. The answers are the questions.
Never ask how to deal with grief. Grief is there to teach you how.