I have seen some deeply saddening pictures of the victims of the Sichuan earthquake. Roland has reproduced one especially heart-rending scene; I will not print it here.
So much death, so suddenly and unexpectedly. The mind reels. I turn to my books, unable to fully grasp the depth of the grief of losing a loved one, a child, in such a manner. Lieh Tzu offers what might be, for some, a bit of solace:
Death is a return to where we set out from when we were born. So how do I know that when I die here I shall not be born somewhere else? How do I know that life and death are not as good as each other? How do I know that it is not a delusion to crave anxiously for life? How do I know that present death wold not be better than my past life? (25)
I remember when Aidan was just an infant, someone once said that it might be "better" were he to die. And I also remember my passionate rejection of that idea. Each life, whatever the circumstances, Chuang Tzu tells us, is equally valuable and real and sufficient as every other. But Lieh Tzu reminds us that each life ends, and, however much we might grieve, we cannot know what that ending means in its fullness. We cannot cling to life; we must accept endings. And, perhaps, endings are better than we can know. There may not be a promise of something like a Christian heaven, to which the souls of the departed retire. But there is an openness to the possibility of something as good in death as in life.
Rest in peace.