A meditative death

I found this post today on the InterDependence Project‘s blog, written by Nancy Thompson, about how Lou Reed died. (The InterDependence Project is a secular Buddhist Centre in New York). I want to share it for anyone else facing their own death or the death of a loved one, which we will all encounter at some point, with or without myeloma…

Laurie Anderson was married to Lou Reed. She wrote an extraordinarily beautiful description in this week’s Rolling Stone of her husband’s death. The couple had studied Buddhist teachings on how to prepare for death and how to live when one spouse has a terminal illness.

After Reed became sick with liver cancer and then other diseases, Anderson writes, “We tried to understand and apply things our teacher said – especially hard ones like, “You need to try to master the ability to feel sad without actually being sad.”

As his death approached, he came home from the hospital:

As meditators, we had prepared for this – how to move the energy up from the belly and into the heart and out through the head. I have never seen an expression as full of wonder as Lou’s as he died. His hands were doing the water-flowing 21-form of tai chi. His eyes were wide open. I was holding in my arms the person I loved the most in the world, and talking to him as he died. His heart stopped. He wasn’t afraid.

I had gotten to walk with him to the end of the world. Life – so beautiful, painful and dazzling – does not get better than that. And death? I believe that the purpose of death is the release of love.

At the moment, I have only the greatest happiness and I am so proud of the way he lived and died, of his incredible power and grace.

I’m sure he will come to me in my dreams and will seem to be alive again. And I am suddenly standing here by myself stunned and grateful. How strange, exciting and miraculous that we can change each other so much, love each other so much through our words and music and our real lives.

I recommend reading the full article in Rolling Stone. I found it so poignant, heartwarming and very honest in the face of death. It made me want to do two hours of Tai Chi a day. Not that that’s likely to happen, but it might encourage my practice. May we all depart life so peacefully and fearlessly.

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8 Responses to A meditative death

  1. Helen Wolfson says:

    This was beautiful and helpful to everyone


  2. I read this and found it totally inspirational. Thank you Jet. x


  3. Ginnie says:

    that is so beautiful… such heart and love… I too have started Tai Chi, right now I am just using DVDs until I find a location nearby. Its fun, I’m totally awkward at it, but it is fun. I hope to reap the rewards that come with practice. Thanks for sharing, Jet.


    • Jet Black says:

      Yay for Tai Chi! I began shortly after being diagnosed, with a really lovely teacher who has also been through cancer treatment and is very supportive and permissive. There have been times when I or other students couldn’t stand up for the whole class, so we just take a break or one woman used to do the whole class seated. I do hope you find a good teacher, and a class of other keen students. x


  4. Eliza_Mariah says:

    Cried so hard reading Anderson’s article, but only because I wish everyone could have such a good death.


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