The Importance of Grieving

I believe in the afterlife. Even so, I cried freely at the funeral of a friend. I didn’t want him to die, and I was angry and sad about his death. Believing in the afterlife doesn’t preclude the need to grieve. In fact, grieving is a very important healing process, one best explained through the wisdom of the Hawaiian culture.

The ancient kahunas, as author Max Freedom Long explains, were Polynesian healers. To them, the word for healing was hoo-la, which means, “to cause light.” You create light by restoring the natural relationship with the High Self, which I call the spirit.

The kahunas thought that all problems originated from believing ourselves separate from our High Self. If we choose to, we can align with it—and open to its light—through a three-step enlightenment process. These steps involve:
1. Cleansing hurt and guilt.
2. Preparing the mind, as if for worship.
3. Performing hoo-ola, or “making life.”
The graduate of step three earns the title “la-ko,” or one who “possesses Light.”

When someone dies, or when we are dying, we naturally feel emotional pain. We might recall how the other harmed us—or feel guilty about the cruelties we inflicted. When someone leaves, whether through death, divorce, or some other form of separation, it’s normal to first feel our own suffering. No one likes loss or separation; it makes us feel sorry for ourselves.

But where there is grief, there is love. Sadness, anger, annoyance—these and the countless other emotions that accompany change—show us that we have loved something or someone. We can only miss what we’ve cared about. If we accept our grief and feel it without judgment, we’ll automatically open to the presence of love. Love washes clean everything. As soon as we acknowledge love, we have entered the state of worship.

To worship is to treat something or someone as divine. It is to sense the divine presence, even in the worst of circumstances. It is to trust that the Divine will transform something bad into something meaningful, important, and worthy. It is to believe in the afterlife, for if we—and all other transient beings—are divine, then we will continue to exist, and flourish.

Finally, we grieve—and love—by returning to life. You’ll know that you are performing both hoo-ola, or making life, and hoo-la, making light, when you can again hear the birds in the morning and simply enjoy their song, when you can stop at a coffee house and order whipped cream on your café au lait—no matter the caloric damage. When you possess appreciation of the small things in life, you can appreciate all of the people and beings that surround you—and those that might not be physically in your presence anymore. You have become a la-ko. You have merged light and life.

All content copyright Cyndi Dale