Relationships do not end when a person dies : Stephen Levine’s thoughts on death, pain and healing

Relationships do not end when a person dies. Some other aspect of it deepens and begins. Your relationship isn’t over, it is just no longer externalized. The pain involved is the consequence of love. That’s what love costs. Some people say the price of love is too high. They will take many incarnations to get by that fear, which is fine. However, there is a point in which fear does not lead our life anymore. We are willing to love even if it is painful at times. I become ecstatic when I talk about what is on the other side of the pain, but it is not right for me to say your pain will go away after a one-year practice, because it may not. It will start to recede in the background and float in something bigger than your pain.

The way we respond to pain is the way we respond to life. When things aren’t the way we want them to be, what do we do? Do we close down, or do we open up to get more of a sense of what’s needed in the moment? Our conditioning is to close down — aversion, rejection, put it away, denial. Nothing heals. That is the very basis on which unfinished business accumulates, putting it away — I’m right, they’re wrong; no quality of forgiveness. We know many people who are working on sending forgiveness into their tumours, into their AIDS, into their degenerative heart disease. It sounds so bizarre, because our conditioning is to send anger into it, fear into it. Where can there be healing in that?


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