A Grace Filled Heart

To embrace life...

the joys and the sorrows

with All your heart

with All your mind


with All your soul...

Creates a Spirit

of care



any experience...

Such expressions

have an angelic quality


a collection of moments

simultaneously revealing

A Grace Filled Heart.

— Sam Oliver

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Why Does My Loved One Have to Suffer?

Not long ago, I visited a man whose wife was dying of cancer. He retired early in life, so he and his wife could travel the country on his Harley Davidson motorcycle. He was a big man, and his wife was tiny. But, their love for one another was deep and knew no size and shape after 45 years of being married to one another. He shared with me many stories of there life together. He was deep in grief.

Over the years, I have heard surviving loved ones of dying patients wonder, “why does my loved one have to suffer?” I will often hear that my spouse, uncle, aunt, mother, or father has been a good person. It doesn't make sense to have to watch my loved one go through this people say. After having many years to ponder these reflections, I have come to believe there is "NOT" an easy answer to this question and the mind wanderings that go with it. These expressions come from such a deep place within us that to give an easy answer would pull people from this place they are asking us to meet them in.

The place I am referring to is a dying loved one’s soul. Caregivers are being asked to meet them in a place where suffering no longer exists. Thomas Moore, in "The Care of the Soul," refers to the soul as a place where one's imagination and heart join on a journey the physical body cannot move into. This is the place whereby one's thoughts, feelings, and spirit come to embrace what is beyond us.

When a loved one asks us, "why does my loved one have to suffer?” “Why did this happen to my spouse, daughter, son, sister, brother, or others?” We are being invited to listen to their soul and offer unconditional love. This act of non-judgmental care is a spatial quality of existence enabling us to care for another's soul. Why? Because at the deepest level of our being we know there is not a human understanding to this question, but it does lead us deep within our psyche and opens us up to our soul. It is a place where souls can meet and find healing.

Thoughts give rise to the ability comprehend an idea. We go through a series of wanderings to make sense of the world around us. This path into the grief process eventually leads us to the realization that the intellect will not give us what we are looking for. Although our thoughts are a form of expressing our grief, they simply lead us to more and more questions there are no answers to.

Feelings give expression to our thoughts on a given situation, which may give rise to more emotional pain knowing we cannot understand what is happening. This is felt in the body and moves in and through us. We tire and eventually give up on using our mind and body this way. Eventually, we move into exhaustion and have no energy to feel anything.

Spirit gives us hope in life hereafter, but it does not take away our grief. The expression of prayer and hope in life hereafter does allow us to bring into our grief a sense of consolation. Funeral services include various songs and scriptures allowing us to have words to comfort us. The ability to cope through faith allows us to place some of our grief in a power greater than ourselves.

When you combine the mind, body, and spirit's capacity to deal with grief in an integrated way, we often find a sense of peace. This is what is known in many sacred texts as "a peace beyond understanding." To know “The Unknowable” or and grief will not and cannot kill the relationship we had with our loved one. Instead, we begin to relate to each other on the level of soul. This is the place where our soul can create channels of expression with our dying loved one no other way is possible.

As you can see, the answer to the question of “why" is my loved one going through this is not as important as where this internal process leads us inside our being. This place can be nurtured and cared for by those willing to listen attentively to another’s desire and need to be heard from such depths. This act of going into such sacred space where one's soul is healing simply by sharing one's pain with those who care allows us to heal in places our hands cannot touch.

Here are three final points to consider when you find yourself with someone who asks the question “why does my loved one have to suffer?” First, listen fully to one’s grief and their questions on suffering. Make sure you have listened to another’s grief as outlined earlier in this article.

Second, since you have no control over a person’s journey into dying or the timing of his/her passing from this life to the next, try to get the surviving loved one voice what their loved one will be released of in their dying and themselves as a caregiver. This step requires a great deal of honesty, and you will not probably get this unless you have fully listened to someone tell you about their grief of losing their loved one.

Finally, your ability to help someone through this phase of grief will help the dying loved one and loved one’s who survive build incredible trust in you as the caregiver, volunteer, minister, social worker, nurse, and doctor.There are many distractions in the world. This would be a good day for you to focus. Focus on your needs, as well as, the needs of others. Keep the needs of yourself and the needs of the self in balance. You will notice that you and others have this need to keep life in balance. There is a delicate balance in nature to give and receive. Take an apple tree. An apple tree begins to grow. It will then mature. If you pick the apples too soon, they will taste sour. If you pick the apples to late another taste of sour springs forth as a rotten taste. In the middle of these two extremes is the sweetness of an apple's maturity. The apple time has come to give back before it dies. And oh, how good the ripe tasting texture of an apple whose time has come to give in due season.

You have been in training since the moment you were born. You have been learning and growing from various experiences that teach you and develop you into becoming a mature adult. Along the way, your elders have been sharing with you their wisdom and their love and care. When you mature into adulthood, it is time for you to share with those around you gifts you have learned since being a child. Just like the apple, you are ripe and ready to share with the public those seeds of awareness given to you since birth. You are ready for the community and the world to literally use or taste the talents you have to give.

Dying people have physical bodies that no longer serve them or the community in a way that they did in their prime. Like the apple, everything dies in due season. At the same time, a dying person's worth to society is probably more valuable to those who care for them. Dying people are becoming more soul than body. They are transforming right before our eyes. Their attention turns inward and the virtues and values they have lived through in their lifetime become more vivid than any other phase of their life. They teach us what is important and share their stories with us from their heart and soul.

Stories create images in our mind and elicit emotions from the feelings expressed by the storyteller. It can be as though you were there as you feel and see inwardly what a dying person shares with you. Memories expressed in tranquility come from the soul. They fill all of us with a knowing that who we are now is a result of our past expressions on material reality. Dying people teach us to live in soul long before we die and plant seeds of eternity inside. When it is our time to close our eyes to the world around us and open them up to a place where eternity itself dwells. We will have arrived where we started in life and call it home.

Other articles by Sam Oliver:

• How a Miracle Happens

• Forgive Everyone in Every Way

• Dancing with Angels

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