We all grieve, but we express it differently. I try to write or do something creative to help me make sense of what I’m feeling. My mother is a Theravada Buddhist. Myself? I’m more of an observer than a believer or practitioner (maybe someday), but I’ve appreciated how other people practice their faith.
The day Butter died, my mother called me and we couldn’t stop crying. Amid the tears and sobs, she said was going to ask her sister (back in her home country) to give alms to the monks for merit-making in honor of my grandparents and for Butter’s rebirth. She said, Butter was a good dog and deserved to become human in her next life.
From what I understand, there is a Buddhist 7-day period of mourning during which there’s a transfer of merit or dedication of merit on behalf of the deceased (relatives, deities, sentient beings). Good deeds done, acts of or gifts of charity (alms) and offering of prayers given on their behalf to add to the good karma that surrounds their spirit. I suppose one can think of it as good karmic insurance.
In all seriousness, the spiritual idea is more than ensuring good reincarnation. It is the giver’s intentional act of piety, the mental energy one devotes to the spirit of giving and sharing – one’s actions is the source of karmic energy. The act of transferring merit is akin to lighting a candle or an oil lamp. If everyone in the room had an oil lamp but only yours was lit, we can light up the darkness by sharing the light from one person to the next. Our own light is not diminished, but made brighter by it and it sustains us.
It’s’ been 8 days since Butter passed away, and the end of the 7-day period of mourning. I feel less sad knowing that so many people, other than myself, have given their thoughts, prayers and done good deeds on her behalf.