An Unsent Letter To A Friend (or How To See Death Through Non-Dual Eyes)

A friend of mine lost his best friend in an accident in the later half of 2013.

I wrote this letter to him for Christmas, but decided it best not give it to him. We aren’t the closest of friends and I kept thinking that if I gave him this letter, I and it, would probably come across,  most odd.

Besides, my entire motivation behind writing this letter results from a drunken conversation he, I, and some friends shared during a Thanksgiving celebration.

I worked on this letter for the better half of two weeks. I hope it will be more beneficial to send this letter out online to someone who’s struggling to grip the death of a loved one than sitting in my personal cloud.

This letter is for anyone who has lost a loved one and doesn’t feel like “letting go.”

For those of you who didn’t read or understand the last article I wrote on non-duality, hopefully, this letter provides some relief.


The Unsent Letter


Dear my fairest of friends,

I found this quote in an old book of mine.

It begged me to reach out and write you this letter. (Of course, by now, it is far too late to give you this letter and anyways, you’d probably think of me as a fool for attempting to convey anything of this measure to you since we have rarely talked to one another other than our brief, drunken stupors.)

A previous reader had written these words inside the now faded front cover and given it to a friend almost forty years ago.

When you part from your friend; you grieve not; for that which you love most in him may be clearer in his absence, as the mountain to the climber is clearer from the plain.”

Although no quote, thought, or concept can define exactly what non-duality is (or aid us entirely with the loss of a loved one), these words allude to a higher perception. Language, at best, can only be used as a pointer towards precepts of truth, or transcendence, or realities existing above the rational mind and the constraints of its dualistic thought. Always remember: our rational minds speak voraciously in pairs of opposites.


We must always be mindful.


In moments of pure transcendence, non-duality, eternal truth is revealed.

Your friend is here, now, oscillating in rest.

Experience remains.

At times, metaphor often works better for us to grasp that which is beyond thinking’s surface.

This is a way to understand that which cannot be understood.

Imagine throwing a rock into a vast, deep pond of water. Obviously, the rock sinks slowly to the bottom and its ripples dissipate vertically down into a dragging effect and horizontally by spreading out across the pond’s surface slowly distorting the calm reflection.

Just because we no longer see the rock doesn’t mean it’s not there resting upon the bottom of the pond.

And the ripples too are there even after they apparently disappear. Vibrating subtly across the surface they remain all to fine and spread so thin that the hurried, shoreline passerby fails to see their continuous existence in the dynamic equilibrium that is the lake which first gave life to the ripple. The tiny ripples that appeared upon the rock’s entrance into the pond, however, do not disappear or vanish completely; in fact, they are superposed by larger ripples, greater waves, stronger mediums of friction, and ultimately the whole mass of the pond swallows them up in recollection. They transcend the limitations of their prior formation to become greater wholes, opening up to larger expanse allowing them to extend farther to reach new shores.

Nothing is lost.

The rock is still a rock. The ripple is recorded within the pond’s memory and its effect upon the shoreline although rarely noticeable is. Surely in the rippling-out effect other waves are touched, moved, and affected by the rock’s ripple. Eventually, commotion ceases and at the surface the pond returns to its prior appearance of stillness. Yet, the entire time, a ripping current works hard beneath the surface without even our slightest eye.


We are the rock, lake, and rippling.


We are both: the splash of the rock and the breaking reflection.


Our loved ones are never lost, but always here, remaining in the vital equilibrium of existence.

Their memories, experiences, and impact upon the world and our lives are never forgotten. Their influence lasts.

Sure, forms change. Even now our bodies are decaying. But, there is that which lasts.

Not it, not you, nor I.

Not this, nor that.

But always has, will, and is.

Only such remains.


(Everything below was originally part of the hand-written letter on a separate page. I’ve included the hyperlinks for those interested.)

In case you are wondering where the quote above is from, I saved you the pleasure of looking it up and found it for you. The author, Kahlil Gibran, is from Lebanon and is the third best-selling poet of all time (only behind Shakespeare and Lao Tzu). The quote above is actually part of a larger piece entitled, On Friendship, which you can (and should) read online in its original context for free.

According to Wikipedia (although there is no citation for this source), written next to Gibran’s grave are the words “a word I want to see written on my grave: I am alive like you, and I am standing beside you. Close your eyes and look around, you will see me in front of you.”

I hope this letter stands beside you in tough times, not only in dealing with your friend’s death, but as realization and a constant reminder of his life, yours, and the never-ending connection that still holds between you both.

Merry Christmas,


Stephan M. Stansfield


I sincerely hope this helps.

Image Source: Expressionist Rolf Nesch


About Stephan Stansfield

Stephan is the owner, creator, and editor of Peregrine Poise.
He is currently traveling and teaching around the world. When he is not helping others discover their true potential, he finds time to surf, read, and reflect on the important issues of living a good life.

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