Grief for my deceased brother


My elder brother aged 36 left his physical presence 3 and half months back . He had lot of personal issues was depressed and he turned to alcohol to relieve himself from depression. My parents went to meet knowing he was depressed and unknown he had been drinking .. they had spoken to him at 7 in the Morning and he was no more when they reached his house . He died of cardiac arrest.was it our karma or his karma or was it due to shock . Guilt is eating us alive .. help us find peace

—Aishwarya s, India


Dear Aishwarya,

No words can bring comfort or satisfaction at the loss of such a one at that young age and as a result of such regrettable life decisions. It is completely natural that family members and close friends examine their words and deeds wondering what they might have done differently. “How did I not know?” “How could I not see what he was going through?”

This is as natural as it is unhelpful. Each soul is reborn according to past actions and into a family and circumstances tailor-made to evolve towards greater wisdom and happiness. But sometimes we are not ready for our tests and challenges and choose to take a “rain-check,” leaving this world in order to have a break before returning again.

Such cases of deep depression and alcoholism do not necessarily have any logical roots in the current life. But even if there was some apparent trigger, nothing that happens in life requires that one take his own life through such means. What I am saying is this: such a tragic response to life cannot be traced solely, if at all, to the circumstances of the present life.

It is important that, out of respect for your brother’s soul, the choices he made, and the challenges he faced, you accept that he made his choices on his own, without regard to anything you, your parents, or anyone else did, could do, or are responsible for.

But you can still help him. Despite your sadness, and occasional feelings of guilt that might come to you and your parents, pray for him. He lives on but he must surely be in great self-doubt, pain, and confusion. A soul that leaves the earth is often incapable of clear awareness and clear feelings, especially given how he died. A young body devoid of the brain, nervous system, and organs of the human body is unaccustomed to being self-aware without these organs.

Thus it is that every spiritual tradition encourages us to pray for those who have left us, especially under difficult circumstances. So sit calmly, perhaps before his photograph; invoke God, guru or your Istha Devata and ask for strength and grace. From your heart’s calm feelings and from your concentrated will at the point between the eyebrows, send to your elder brother messages of support, love, comfort and peace. Do this when your own feelings are not troubled by grief or guilt. Do this every day if you can and for many months to come; and, from time to time in the years to come.

He lives on! He lives in your heart and memory. He made his choices for his own reasons. Let that be as it is. A true brother stands by his brother in troubled times and good times. Stick with him! You can help him for life is never over.

In divine friendship,
Nayaswami Hriman