What if we looked at death differently?
What if we saw it as a reward for a life that gives its all -that impacts all it came to impact, that shines its beauty for as long as it can shine, and that uses up every last drop of its giving and loving and affecting until it's time to return to source (God) where its life force (energy/soul) is given a beautiful new assignment?
Doesn't this create such a perfect peaceful image in your mind? I wonder why it seems we struggle to see death this way? Why do we seem to prefer to shroud it in a kind of darkness and mystery and awfulness that elicits fear and dread and avoidance?
What if we started to look at the whole concept of death differently, starting with talking about it more, planning for it, normalizing it, removing it's stigma, teaching from early on that everything eventually ceases to be. Death can feel like a difficult and scary concept to teach children, so we're inclined to want to soften it for them. We stretch the truth, we tell little white lies, we skirt around the issue, we cover over it, we shield them from it, we speak in whispers and tears about it, we give as little information as possible, and we avoid letting them see it until we think they're "old enough to handle it." But by doing all of these things, aren't we actually teaching children that death is terrible, final, and something to be frightened of? And when you really think about it, doesn't doing this effectively manage to keep us, as adults, in a perpetual state of discomfort with death as well?
Whether it's a living thing in nature, or a person, or a time of life, or a storm, or water sitting in an open basin, or a day, or a bad dream, or a beautiful sunset, or the sweat rolling down our back in the heat of summer, or the dark, or pain of some kind, or a season, or a growing thing, everything eventually ceases to be. We need to teach that everything has a beginning, a time to be, and a time to end, and that many things after ending evolve into something else, or help to make something else, or help to create space for something else.
Consider this: the end of what and who we are in this moment is happening constantly. Every minute we are aging and changing and evolving. Every second, some part of us as well as some part of our life, is either slowly wearing out, or no longer of use, or no longer capable of what it once was, or evolving into something else, or unconsciously being let go, or even dying. And each ending of something, whether we are aware of it or not, creates an opening -a space -an opportunity- for something else. How remarkable!
We seem to unconsciously accept this, so is there really any need to struggle with death when we reframe it as merely an extension of this same concept, as a natural part of everyday living and evolving? Death is simply the end of one leg of a beautiful journey and an opening to something else, just as happens over and over and over again in everyday life.
I suppose it's understandable that we don't like to lump the dying of our loved ones in the same category as other less conscious naturally occurring cycles of life, but is that because we fear that by doing so we are assigning them less worth, or is it simply because we have less experience and less comfort with this kind of loss and life altering change?
Once upon a time everyone grew up on farms (often with extended family living with them or very close by) where reverence for, and understanding of life and death was as naturally built into daily living as hard work, family dinners, stories passed down from old to young, and church on Sundays. Children were a part of the care and raising of animals that were later eaten as food, and had a front seat to death from disease, accidents, and old age. There was an almost unspoken sanctity for the value of life, ones contribution to it, and the harmony with which life and death operate. Did industrialization and urbanization pull us too far away from our understanding of the beauty of the natural order of things?
I only know that it seems as though we go about our daily lives trying so hard to avoid thinking about, let alone talking about and planning for, the big loss of loved ones (including our self!) when we could be making it a more innate part of life's extraordinary evolution, starting with spending time pointing out the gazillions of examples of how life works in this perfectly balanced way.
I guess my point is that we need to find ways to normalize death so that it doesn't make everyone so squirmy and uncomfortable, and especially so children are less traumatized by loss. We can't eliminate the pain of heartache, nor would we want to (that's love talking), but we can make death less morbid. How can we remove this sense of discomfort despite there being things we don't fully know or understand, and things we struggle to explain? We know all good things eventually come to an end, including life as we know it, but we prefer not to think about the actual loss of those dearest to us until we're forced to. It's a protection mechanism, I know, but what if we stopped thinking of life in such finite terms when, as is the case in every segment of nature, it's actually the beginning of something else.
Nature survives and evolves.
Night turns into day.
Everything that lives is able to do so because of the death of something else.
And on and on...
So what if we think of death as a process not unlike all the others -a process of transitioning,
of converting from one state to another,
of evolving from our first breath to our last, with each of us traveling at our own speed (and with varying pit stops), and with each of us being here for similar yet individual reasons?
What if we think of death as the end of one kind of consciousness and the entrance into a different kind - as transformation of energy, as graduation from physical to spiritual, as an evolution to something more?
Yes, I know what you're thinking - but we miss our loved ones when they leave this earth plane more than we miss any other loss of any other kind in our life. There is no denying this truth. It is some of, if not THE worst pain we endure as human beings. It is the price we pay for loving so purely and so deeply. But when we flip the narrative from one of loss to one that concentrates on the gifts our loved one gave while with us, AND on their giving and receiving of a new form of life after death, it helps to soften the sting, and it allows for a beautiful mental image to hold in our heart along with our beautiful memories, AND it helps to remove some of the despair!
There is immense comfort for both children and adults in not looking at the line between life and death as so extreme:
Life comes from death, and death comes from life. What a beautiful and symbiotic relationship.
Birth is beautiful, and so is death (the purest form of beauty...back to whence we came). One is not the opposite of the other so much as one is the mirror image of the other. What perfect design.
What extraordinary harmony between creation and evolution and life eternal.
Death, then, can never really be an end because in the most elemental terms it's a transformation to a new form of being.
Isn't death simply something leaving to allow for something else, and if so, isn't it as Joseph Campbell says, "the greatest act of giving?"
How can there be anything to dread about an end that allows for something good that would otherwise never be?
What if it's that simple, that beautiful, and that incredibly and perfectly bittersweet?
Just happened this way, or perfect design? You be the judge. But either way, let's start to teach children that death is not something to fear, but something to be revered for the sanctity of the life it represents, and for the amazing gifts it allows.
Let's begin to look at death as something to be embraced with the same excitement as what's next?, and where are we going?, and it's going to be an amazing adventure!
"At the end of each season there is still life. At the end of life there is new life. Therefore, do not fear endings for endings are merely the mark of beautiful new beginnings." ~Chris Colyer
So much love, always,
October 24, 2022