MAKING PEACE WITH DEATH
How are you when it comes to the whole death conversation? Are you pretty cool with it, or does it freak you out? I'm asking because I used to have...
How are you when it comes to the whole death conversation?
Are you pretty cool with it, or does it freak you out?
I'm asking because I used to have such an intense aversion to even thinking about it, never mind discussing it. Just could not go there.
However my attitude has radically changed in recent years.
I was prompted to write this because over the last few weeks, I've heard some fairly well known speakers address the subject.
The term 'the greatest tragedy of the human experience' was thrown about a lot.
And although I like how it sounds - it's poetic, lamenting, and for some weird reason feels kind of cool to say.. I'd like to shed some light on this widely held perspective in Western culture.
What if death wasn't such a tragedy? Imagine.
What would it be like to be liberated from the heart piercing, stomach sickening pain of loss.
It would change everything!
And I know the pain only too well, I've dealt with three major bereavements over the last six years.
My Dad (2010), my Mum (2014) and my little Gran (2016), she lived next door and really was a second Mum.
It's been an incredibly tough run.
But dealing with the grief, shock and helplessness, has given me HUGE insight about both life, and death.
And I've some good news for you... the whole death thing doesn't have to be as bad as our minds can lead us to believe.
In our heads, it's game over. There's no amount of thinking that can make us feel good about the impermanence of things.
No logic that can profoundly pacify us in face of parting with someone we cherish, or soothe the inevitably of one day losing every single person we love. Reason has nothing for us on this.
However, there is a balm to the inevitable fate we all face. It comes from somewhere beyond the mind. It flows from that part of us that's infinite.
It's an eternal, ethereal gush of softness and light. A soothing, gentle, 'it really is all OK'.
Buddhist practice is geared towards having this on tap - hence why they are so cool about the whole death thing. It's not a front!
Their embodiment of that expanded perspective brings with it the capacity to be truly totally cool with death.
Many eastern traditions are the same, because they've mastered different ways of accessing this other part of us - the fabric of what we're made.
Not conceptually - they feel it, they experience it physically, it's as real as the grief that can grip us. And I know because I've felt it, it's so powerful.
It happens when we let go of our judgements, when we suspend the story we're telling ourselves, and allow what's really true to fill the space instead.
You can feel it with every molecule of your being. You know everything really is ok.
Now, I'm not on about denying pain here, or suppressing feelings.
I did that when Dad passed because I was new to this understanding of ourselves, I was familiar with the concepts but had nothing to back it up with - so it actually worked against me.
This is not about trying to force yourself to feel good when your heart is torn to shreds. It's not about pretending you're not sad, or escaping the situation.
This IS about realising, at a core level, that there is no loss.
And our mind screams - FUCK THAT!
In it's fury it rages.
HOW CAN YOU SAY THERE IS NO LOSS?
I HAVE LOST.
AND ONE DAY I'LL DIE TOO.
EVERYONE I LOVE WILL DIE.
IT'S NOT FAIR!!
And in that space, the mind feels entirely justified in its grief and misery.
But if we stop it. Even for a moment. Let go. Demand to surrender that which we've made so real. Demand to experience the truth of what we are...
We create space to experience something new, as we allow ourselves to connect with another dimension of our being.
And then, just as baby in full throws of a tantrum can suddenly be comforted with a warm, loving embrace... we too can feel a peace run through us, to the point we couldn't cry if we tried.
Knowing on a deep level, it really is OK.
I experienced this after both my Mum and Gran passed. Within moments I went from a wailing mess to feeling a calm warmth circulate through me - head to toe.
And it's available to all of us.
So, what if death and loss is an illusion?
Would it dissolve that latent fear that covertly lurks in the back of all our minds, subtly haunting us.
What would it be like to live free of that? I know things would be a lot lighter for one!
To the best of my present knowledge, it's only through accessing this other dimension of ourselves that we can really experience this.
And the moment we do - tragedy is reframed.
And we realise the truth that nothing is ever truly lost.
So these days, I can talk about death with a lighter heart than ever before, and at the same time, still deeply cherish always, those who have gone before me.
I hope this is of some solace to you in the face of whatever you're experiencing right now. Xx