Siddharta, The Buddha, said, "You only lose what you cling to". Wise words indeed. And since everything in life is in motion, changing, growing, dying, being born, aging, weathering, transforming, the only idea you can really 'cling' to is that change is the one and only constant.
The yogis offer us the practice of vairagya which can be translated loosely to, "being free from attachments - but without rejecting anything". In other words, you're not holding on for dear life to anything or anybody, or even any ideas, and yet you're also not pushing any of it away. Hmm oh so much easier said than done.
In yoga we actively practice vairagya or non-attachment by observing the change in our practice and our response to it (whatever our practice is) from day to day. Some days we are strong, or clear or present. Other days we are tired and foggy and distracted. Some days we are healthy and others we are not well. We age, we get injured, we heal, we change all the time.
In life we take this 'mini practice' off the mat or meditation seat and we use it to observe where or what we are clinging to in our lives. Death is a huge and dramatic place to see these principles in action. Naturally we cling to those we love and so when they leave us, we feel a huge sense of loss.
"Nothing really dies, " I told him. It just turns into something else. Everything is always changing form. Do you remember the pumpkin that rotted into the earth in your garden? Tomatoes sprouted where it used to be. This bird will go back to the earth and turn into lavender and butterflies".
We cling to the way things were, and yet we know that nothing and no one lasts forever.
These teaching bring me a sense of calmness (even if small) around an otherwise utterly confusing, heartbreaking and unsettling topic: death. These are the contemplations which keep me company as I grieve the loss of loved ones who, I am coming to realize, I clung to very tightly.