On the morning of May 6th 1982 police knocked on the door of our family home to tell my parents of the accidental death of my brother Mark who had been involved in a car accident. Mark would have been 56 years old if he was alive today. At 18 his whole life was just beginning, he had celebrated being awarded Dux of his Year 12 High School year the year before, and had just begun an Engineering Degree at University.

The sudden death of my brother felt like the shattering of innocence and the opening of the flood gate of tears. The deep sense of loss and grief was beyond what anyone in my family had ever experienced.

Mark’s birthday was the 1st of January which led my parents each and every year on New Years Eve to stay home and on each New Years Day to tend his grave. As the years have gone by each of us has continued in our own way to remember and celebrate Mark’s life and to express the love we have for him in our hearts.

When I hear and read about the number of deaths that have occurred because of COVID-19 I can’t help but think and feel for each of the families that have been impacted and the shock waves that they will experience for years to come. Until we are impacted personally from a tragedy it is easy to think “it won’t happen to me” but the truth is it can happen to anyone. Just as no one has immunity from COVID-19, no one has immunity from sudden and sometimes brutal upheaval.

The human path involves suffering which the Buddha would say comes from attachment. I believe that this is true because as humans we do become attached, which does cause the heart to break open in unexpected ways and at unexpected times.

Following Mark’s death an unseen spiritual world opened up for me that was an awakening to the truth that death is not the end and that it is also not a failure. This knowing does not diminish our deep human attachment and consequent suffering but I am reminded that death is not the end of life.

Tomorrow is the Wesak full moon, which is normally the first full moon in the sign of Taurus, the sign associated with enlightenment and the Buddha. This full moon is also traditionally associated with flowers because they signify life’s transient nature. It is said that at Wesak the Buddha returns to bless the earth.

In our current pandemic we can participate in the full moon blessings by placing a crystal bowl with pure water in our gardens and ask for the Buddha’s blessing to bring wisdom and understanding to our own lives and to our world. Perhaps if we restore the sacred by remembering the importance of ritual in our lives, we will be spared of more painful awakenings.

I am reminded on this day to give gratitude to the Spiritually enlightened Beings who are waiting our connection to assist us as we continue to walk our earthly path.