Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Tribute to Portia and Shakir

Today, we pay tribute to Shakir Stewart's exemplary life. We give his mother, Portia, our love and compassion to assist her on her life's journey. We offer these thought-provoking words to enrich her life with love, peace, and forgiveness.

The recent death of our (my wife and I) friend's son, Shakir, stirred a deep feeling of loss and emotional grief in me. It made me feel like a helpless victim overwhelmed by a torrent of unexpected emotional feelings.

The deep, heartfelt sadness I feel for Portia's loss of her son is so strong that it compels me to draw upon all my spiritual resources to gain control over my emotions. I seek refuge in the knowledge that I have the power to control how I think about myself and the events in my life.

Meanwhile, as I write now, it's been several weeks since Shakir's passing from one consciousness to another one. Yet, even today, his youthful life and death continues to resonate in my thoughts. I constantly wonder what I can do to assist Portia and her family with overcoming the pain and suffering I imagine they must feel right now.

As a friend and supporter, I believe I am in a unique situation to share my insights on some salient points on how to overcome pain and suffering. There's so many words you search for when you have a friend who is grieving the loss of her son; however the words forgiveness, love, peace, and letting go of the pain come to mind.

At some level of consciousness, I believe pain and suffering must be confronted with a clear mind and strong determination to overcome them. This is an arduous task for someone whose son has died unexpectedly. Nevertheless, unless we feel the pain and suffering, we cannot understand what we need to do to overcome it. By us sitting with the pain and suffering for awhile, we learn how to go beyond these emotions.

The pain and suffering we feel are tied to something deep within us. And for us to begin the transformative journey, we must seek answers to assist us with the decisions we must make as we move forward with our lives.

How does someone feel toward life after the unexpected loss of a son? How do you begin a new relationship?
Did you say and do all the things you wanted to say and do?
What are the rules -- social norms, family etiquette, political correctness, etc., -- that guide you to the next phase of your life?
Who explains all these things to you?

There are so many questions about what to do and few answers to explain the deep pain we feel.

Who can tell us what pill or medication to take to remove the pain and suffering from our lives?
When we feel listless, lost, with seemingly no where to go, what do we do? Who mends the broken heart?
Who brings forth the laughter?

The answers to all these and future questions are found within the pain and suffering. We have to look closely at what we are feeling so that we learn to treat our feelings as friends, not enemies. Yes, the pain and suffering in our lives can become our friends and allies, who will help guide us to the next phase of our journey.

For us to become friends with our emotions, we must first embrace personal forgiveness. This is the first step toward friendship. It allows us to first forgive ourselves for fighting the pain and suffering caused by the loss of a loved one. This allows us to know that any unspoken words or deeds not expressed during the person's life are not something to regret, or try and correct in our minds. There are no explanations or words that can ever explain the true meaning of someone passing from our lives.

The second part of embracing a new way to think and live is love; an unconditional love free of judgment, guilt, and regrets. This love is the freeing kind. It exists within the pain and suffering. We can use it to free our minds to see the beauty and love expressing itself as a son, a father, a husband, a friend, and a kind and loving person.

When we see life from the prism of unconditional love, and if we look closely at Shakir's life, we can see his spiritual footprints walking softly and firmly through our lives. And if we still our thoughts, we can even hear his laughter flow joyful from his gregarious personality. And if we really quiet our minds, we can feel his presence in us, in his children, and all of those he knew. Now we know that his life had great purpose and fulfillment during his brief time with us.

When we perceive life from the prism of unconditional love, this creates the space for us to see the peace within us. It is our peace that will guide us through the rough spots in our lives. Peace will consummate our relationship with our enemies -- pain and suffering. It will reside with us as we seek refuge in a higher level of awareness. With a peaceful mind all things are possible.

Now that the man, Shakir Stewart, has passed from us, we must continue to keep his great deeds and accomplishments in our thoughts. So when we feel sad, we think about his warm smile. When we feel tired and angry, we think about his bountiful energy and love for his family and friends. And when we feel like we are failures, we think about his strength and determination in achieving a successful career doing the work he loved.

Portia, may you and your family enjoy the richness of life that is rightfully yours.