This has brought an overwhelming flood of emotion and grief up for me. While I was not very close to him, it strikes me on so many levels: my own parent loss, wanting to protect my children from grief of their own, wanting to ease the pain of my son's friend. It also brings up gratitude.
In Buddhism, one of the Four Reminders is a contemplation of death; that death is real, and comes without warning. Another is how precious human life is. Somehow, these go hand-in-hand, and we are able to simultaneously hold the grief of death, and the preciousness of birth together. When we feel someone else's pain, it can both remind us of our own pain, and yet also remind us of what we have to be grateful for.
I have been doing a gratitude practice with my friend for 30 days, and I also facilitate a Gratitude page on Facebook. Historically, I tend to be more of a complainer. Gratitude is a practice that I have needed to cultivate. Because when I do, I am able to touch in with the energy of life. I am reminded of the precious opportunity this human existence is, which can be a challenge to remember at times.
There is a quote from my teacher, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, who said, "Hold the sadness and pain of samsara in your heart and at the same time the power and vision of the Great Eastern Sun. Then the warrior can make a proper cup of tea." It's times this this when I feel what he means: allowing ourselves to feel the grief, while also holding the vision of what this life is offering us. Allowing ourselves to feel our grief keeps our hearts tender, while gratitude keeps us from drowning in it.
Be well, tender beings. I am grateful to have you all to share this with.