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Buddhadharma : Fall 2018
102 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER'S QUARTERLY all of this complexity to be expressed, infused, and bundled into the offerings we make, offerings that can be witnessed and collectively held, even while the particulars can still be held privately. And there is the enactment of the offering itself, which allows these bundles of complexity to be acknowledged in this world but then handed over, entrusted to Jizo, and released. Jizo, in his immense capacity, a heart– storehouse as wide as the womb of the earth, is vast enough to hold the immensity of our grief. When I first became involved with the ceremony, I often had the experience of my own grief being awakened by the grief of those around me, and it was heavy. I would be wiped out afterward—my limbs would feel weighted down, my mind foggy. But over time I came to see how fully the form and container of ceremony could hold grief, and I began to trust in that. I didn’t have to hold it all myself. I still feel a real gravity when engaging with these ceremonies. But I also feel a kind of joy and a wholeness that’s subtle but deep. In my experience across many realms—social, religious, psycho- logical, even in communities of hospice workers—child-loss makes people squirm. There are not many shared places where a relation- ship with a child, or a loved one of any age who has died, can be acknowledged, let alone honored and made central. But in this ceremony there is a relief in getting to hold the whole truth of our lives. For me the truth is that I have a middle child, a daughter, and I love and cherish her. She has a place in my life. I get to make some- thing for her, on this material plane where I live. With my hands and heart, I can offer it up to be transmuted through my love and Jizo’s conveyance to be a gift for her, to be of benefit for her wherever and however she is. OVER THE YEARS, I have been asked several times as a priest to adapt this ceremony to respond to other traumatic deaths, including death by suicide. In doing so, I have found certain principles of this ceremony, whether we are meeting the death of a child or a different photo | Bong Grit /Flickr