Using the Eight Points at a Time of Death & Grief

By Rafi & Waheeda

Stories From Meditators

Rafi and his wife Waheeda live in Dallas, Texas. They share how passage meditation helped them care for a parent who was terminally ill. Their practice also helped them deal with their grief after the parent passed away.

It was two years back that my wife and I came to know that my mother, back in India, was diagnosed with fourth stage colon cancer. Doctors gave her at most one year to live. We decided that we would go back to India to spend some quality time with her – who like most moms made tremendous sacrifices in her life. Because of various uncertainties in our personal lives as well, we decided to move back to India maybe for good. Having been settled in the US for the past two decades and getting used to the life here, it was a really hard decision on our part to sell almost everything we have here in the US and go back to India.

As I sit in our balcony overlooking beautiful trees in Dallas, I cannot help but wonder how difficult the past two years have been. My wife and I have been practicing passage meditation for eight years and because of it many of our priorities have changed over time. Most of us who meditate can attest to the fact that we become more sensitive to others’ needs, without ignoring our own well-being.

During this difficult phase of our lives, passage meditation helped us tremendously to deal with our own emotions – good and bad – and kept us equanimous in general. We are deeply indebted to Sri Easwaran, our teacher, and his eight-point program.

Passage Meditation as Internal Support 

My mother was very happy to see me, her eldest son, return back from the US mostly just to take care of her. Once in India we moved into a really nice rental house with a nice community with lots of greenery, quite a rare thing in that part of the country. We then moved my parents and my wife's mom into the house along with us. One of the days I casually asked my mom, what her happiest year was in her life. It was gratifying to hear that this last year spending time with us, is her best year. 

Family photo on New Years Day 2015. Rafi (back left) and Waheeda (back center) with extended family and Rafi's mother (front right).

Taking care of a terminally ill loved one is not easy, just because you keep looking for some miraculous ways of saving him/her. Sometimes you see some hope and most other times you suffer when seeing their suffering. Passage meditation provided us the needed internal support, without which it would have been far more difficult for us to take care of my mom. Apart from that we were very fortunate to have a couple of Dallas satsang members do weekly satsangs with us over facetime (iPhone/iPad).

Drawing on the Eight Points to Deal With Death & Grief

Nine months after moving to India, my mother's condition started deteriorating rapidly. By the eleventh month she was barely able to move. Three days before my mom left her body, my brother, my sister, myself, my mom-in-law and my wife, started writing the mantram over and over. Writing mantrams helped us deal with our own emotions. We made sure at least one of us was sitting right next to her writing mantrams 24 hours a day. By the third day around the time she passed away around 7PM, we were all there in her room writing or repeating our mantrams. My brother held her head in his lap, while I was holding her hands as she passed away peacefully.

In our culture, when someone passes away, we consider the next 40 days as a mourning period. The next day of my mom's passing my wife and I decided to do a 40-day yajna dedicated to my mother. (A yajna is an offering, or some kind of selfless service that requires a measure of self-sacrifice.) We added two activities in our yajna - a third meditation in the afternoon hours and a 30 minutes reading/satsang of Bhagavad Gita for Daily Living every day.


Three months after my mom passed away, my wife and I moved back to the US. Looking back, if I really knew my mom had only less than a year to live, I could have been more sensitive to her needs. Self will and the lack of courage or strength prevented me from doing things I believe I could have done better.

In India there is a belief that the best thing a son or daughter can give to their parents is the gift of dharma or showing them a path of meditation that can eventually help them end their suffering. Perhaps the next best thing would be to serve them in their old age. We tried doing both, fallibly, but to the best of our abilities given our consciousness levels then. 

 We have started following the eight-point program even more sincerely. We keep looking for ways to spend more time practicing each of the eight points on a daily basis. We both have grown more over the past two years and realize that we have a very long way to go. We feel immensely blessed to have had this experience in our lives.