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Feb 25
Pacific Northwest, Scene and Heard
Bo Graham – End of Life Story

Hello friends and family of Bo and the Shambhala Mandala,

At the request of Acharya Warwick and from the inspiration of my recent time with Bo and his family I want to share with you some of the experiences that we all had together in the last hours.

Bo’s wish was to die at home. However the rapid development of the cancer made it too dangerous to move him, even into the hospice, adjacent to the Hospital. As the palliative care doctor indicated that he might have only hours to live Martin Evans and I traveled quickly to be with him and the family. Walking into Bo’s hospital room I found Martin already there holding a stable mind and heart, just back from the family who surrounded Bo on his bed. A few days before while visiting Bo and holding his hand he told me he was scared. I asked him how he felt when he looked up to the pictures of the two Sakyong’s (a gift from Acharya Richard John) and a small Ashe on the hospital shelf high on the wall and directly across from his bed. He said he felt calm when he looked there. We agreed to remind him of this when the going got tough. Bo had moments of struggle near the end when he repeatedly sat up and reached out and even tried to get up out of bed. The Dr. later told me that he was amazed at his strength since he’d never seen anyone with such low blood pressure who could sit up at all. Bo seemed determined to get up and back into life with his great spirit. Family members always were there to hold his hands as he reached out and began to assure him that he could let go. Pain medication was given when it appeared that he was suffering and he eventually settled into a more restful state. I sat a little behind the family to practice the Werma Sadhana by the light of the bathroom. Lovingly surrounded by his wife Shanta, son Romeo and daughter Rachelle, Bo very quietly dissolved from this world around 11:20 PM PST, February 21st. A few minutes later I stood near his head and chanted softly and strongly our opening chants. He was held, touched and caressed. Our tears and love flowed.

Over the next few hours many extended family returned to say goodbye to Bo and offer their support to others. For a period Shanta took some time alone with Bo. I often whispered to him not to be afraid and later as we practiced together alone I repeated Ki Ki So So in his ear. Sitting back in the chair near his head I did the Sadhana more loudly until I feared that I might attract attention of the charge nurse. At dawn we practiced together so powerfully. Bo has a most amazingly supportive and loving family, a living tribute to the quality of the man. They set up the hospital lounge as a camp. In the early hours I walked in to a sea of about a dozen family sleeping in chairs, curled up together on the sofas or sleeping on the floor. Once in the middle of the night I walked into the hall to get a glass of water. A young man whose name I couldn’t remember from the family walked up to me and asked me if I needed a hug. We hugged and I thanked him. Just the week before Bo, in his authentic southern accent quoted Tennessee Williams from A Street Car Named Desire when Blanche said, “I have always relied on the kindness of strangers.”

As soon as the funeral home opened Martin was there to make arrangements to have Bo’s body picked up and taken directly to Vancouver Shambhala Centre. After sorting through many logistical problems Bo was delivered to the centre in the late afternoon of February 22nd. John Fox had arrived earlier and prepared saffron water, hot water, clean wash clothes and a razor and shaving cream. We invited close family who wished to assist with cleaning and dressing Bo. As Martin worked with the mortuary staff and prepared the coffin in another room, Shanta, Romeo, John and I worked together to pull on his beautiful white pants made by Shanta for Bo’s Scorpion Assembly and his favourite outrageously colourful shirt from his sister. Romeo had brought in his new black coat and black fedora to place in the chair near him. We then worked together to select brocades and pictures to place near Bo. Betty Rongae arrived later that evening and worked with Shanta to complete an inspiring and powerful environment that will help Bo and all of us connect with the power and blessings of the lineage.

With Martins’ diligent organization sangha members are practicing with Bo around the clock as family come to visit. The kasung protect the perimeter.

i am so proud of what we have been trained to do and know how to do in these moments and so deeply grateful for our teachers, practice and the love we share as a sangha. I have been so touched by the loving support Bo’s family have provided in this time.

Bo Graham’s Sukhavati will be held at Vancouver Shambhala Centre on Friday, February 25 at 5:30 PM. Reception following.

The family has requested that anyone wishing to make donations in his honour can make them to the Shambhala Centre.

Yours in the vision of the Great Eastern Sun,

Dale Trimble
Chariot of Faith

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