Grieving is painful but can also be a blessing! It is a cathartic and effective medicine. Rumi taught, “The light enters through the wound.” A Turkish proverb further teaches, “He who conceals his grief does not find a remedy for it.” Grief is the Universe’s gift to mold and nudge us towards our spiritual purpose.
So, as a starting point, it is important to shift your perspective of pain. Remember pain and suffering are separate–you can be in pain but choose not to suffer. Pain is inevitable in life but suffering is self-inflicted. Just like happiness and pleasure are separate—you can experience an unpleasurable event and still be happy. These distinctions are important to understand as you continue to evolve on your spiritual journey. Here are a couple of good strategies to embody these concepts that helped me navigate one of the toughest challenges of my life.
The first realization that came to me when I lost Tariq is that I did not have the wherewithal and strength to deal with this tragedy alone. I needed help—and help I sought from wherever I could get it. I literally “Called in the Troops” (one of the chapters in my BPS book
that offers even more grief-hacks). Asking for help was not about me being a “tough guy,” having a calm and together demeanor, or feeling guilty about reaching out to people or showing my vulnerabilities. In fact, I fully recognized my fragility and desperately needed someone to hold my hand. First, I went to family and friends–fortunately, I have a loving family and have always been blessed with wonderful friends who were eager to be at my side.
Then, I returned to Africa to kiss my roots, where I grew up and visited my birthplace Kenya to be close to friends that I went to school with—all of whom offered solace, advice, and support. As John Lennon’s famous song echoes, “I get by with a little help from my friends.” They helped me understand the strengths I possessed and cultivated previously when I had to overcome many challenges in my life prior to Tariq’s tragedy. They reminded me that I had always found higher ground. I had already moved my entire family to a new country with a new language and culture, experienced a divorce, and had to reinvent myself after many ups and downs that life challenged me with.
My family and friends were my immediate support group but often the people that are closest may not have the right qualities, skills, expertise, and beliefs to offer you optimal support. Sometimes you need people outside of your sphere of influence. It is helpful to reach out to strangers—many of whom may have suffered the same loss as you and have successfully navigated through similar pain and grief and found higher ground. This complex concept of higher ground is important and something I teach in my master series; you can not only heal from your grief and hardships, but you can leverage them so that you catapult yourself to an even more fulfilling life on the other side of your healing journey.
We are blessed to have many support groups in our communities and online who are eager to provide us with the help we need. I found this within my community and outside my community. Look at what AA (Alcohol Anonymous) has done to help break addictions, for example. The power of speaking with others who have been through the same experiences as you are sometimes even more powerful than your immediate circle who may not know your pain so intimately. It was through grief support groups and meeting amazing folks that slowly and surely, I was not only able to get through my loss and devastation but also find meaning and purpose.
So, the grief-hack here is that spiritually resilient people are able to take any hit and come out on top if they seek support during times of crisis. They derive this support in a variety of creative and inspired ways and use it like high-octane fuel to power themselves through their hits to the happiness that is waiting on the other side.
I have always been an avid reader and I found immeasurable help in books. I read constantly and voraciously and journaled my “AH-HA’s” from a variety of books. Check-in with your local librarian or online resources and seek books that inspire and provide guidance to your particular situation. The inscription above the Library of Thebes reads, “Medicine for the soul.”
Oprah Winfrey, a true example of a spiritually resilient soul, started her famous book club largely because of the huge influence books had upon her while she was growing up and throughout her life, and she wanted to share that tremendous spiritual, emotional, and intellectual resource with the many millions she continues to reach. I am perpetually inspired and guided by some amazing books and authors. BPS
has several recommended books and resources and I am happy to provide a reading list of books on request. Also, check out the many podcasts
in which I teach healing from wounds.
Lastly, I found the profound answer by reaching out to my spiritual mentor. I grew up and practice as a Sufi (the mystical interpretation of Islam). In my tradition, we have a 40-day grieving period, as my spiritual advisor counseled me, which is the time set aside for grieving because during the 40 days the spirit of the departed soul is in close proximity of family and loved ones. While it is important to grieve and grieve healthily with prayer, inspirational reading, exercise, time with nature, therapy, meditation (my mainstay)
, good diet, and journaling (was extremely helpful to me) it is important to “Invoke the Sunset Clause” – another chapter in my BPS book
This chapter was inspired by my spiritual advisor’s teachings that after the 40 days Tariq’s soul moves to a new consciousness in preparation of its forward journey and excessive grieving by family and friends will impede his journey in the next world. His recommendation was to do good compassionate deeds in Tariq’s honor which will translate into spiritual currency and provide high-octane fuel in his journey in the next world. Brilliant! While 40 days was not enough time, nine months later, I founded the Tariq Khamisa Foundation,
a nonprofit organization saving the lives of children and youth and teaching nonviolence and peacebuilding. Now in its 26th year
, it is reaching thousands of young souls every year. Tariq’s name is on the marquis
, and we do good deeds in his name so we can create millions in spiritual currency so he can finish his journey in the next world in a rocket.
This concept about “Invoking the Sunset Clause” was a significant quantum leap in my journey to find purpose and meaning from my tragedy which not only landed me on higher ground but has gifted me with everlasting peace. A gift from Tariq! So, the grief-hack here is that spiritually resilient people grieve long and hard enough to move them through and past their grief, and then they use their remaining emotional energy to fuel their continued spiritual progress. In other words, if you want to maximize your spiritual resiliency, it is critical that you “Invoke the Sunset Clause” which signals to your soul and to the universe that you are ready to stop grieving. Spiritually resilient people instinctively know when to stop grieving and when to start moving on to new stages in their own healing and lives.
Peace, gratitude, and many blessings,