Do you know how you feel about death? Are you ready for the death of a loved one especially if they are old or sick? Do you think about the fact that you could die at any moment? How would you live your life if you had conversations with yourself about death?
My idea of what death is has changed over the years. I believe that the idea culture puts in our heads about what death is, and our experience with it, determines how we feel about it.
According to the dictionary, death is “The cessation of all biological functions that sustain a living organism.” Most of us on this side of the world see death as the end of a person. Some may accept a little mystery beyond the body but refuse to discuss it. So, loved ones may go through feelings of sadness, anger and loneliness for years. There are cultures that have a different idea of death. They see the essence that makes the body be alive separate from the physical body (a vehicle). That essence continues evolving in a different dimension. Just having a different relationship with death, allows them to be less attached and less selfish, for it is everybody’s purpose to evolve. Not only that, there is an understanding that we are all part of the same essence, so we are always connected.
My experiences with death started young where I observed others and learned how you should behave: One must feel very sad, pray, go to church, not talk about it, and avoid people. It wasn’t until I started meditating that I thought that there could be another way I could approach it. It wasn’t until my uncle’s death that I saw it as a beautiful part of the journey. He was ready to go, so, our conversations took us to his “dreams” of when he slept deeply, how he saw life, and what he had learned. He also talked about where he thought he was going. It was an opportunity for me to be present for him, and it was beautiful.
My grandmother, on my father’s side made her transition a few days ago. We had been told that she was on her last days the day before. So, that day, I dropped off my parents at the airport around 4:00 am to go see her. I went back home to take a nap. I had an interesting dream in which I went through a stressful experience followed by floating down to a most beautiful forest; it was really peaceful! My sister and I decided that it was about me coming home to myself and feeling good about it; however, I think that that feeling prepared me for the news I received a couple of hours after the nap. I could only feel love after my grandmother’s parting; I was not sad. I knew that she was ready to go. She was entering her 101th year. She had lived a full life. I know in my heart that her essence is moving on and evolving. All is well! It is my idea of death that gives me a feeling of peace and love.
What could we gain from changing the idea we have about death? If we come face to face with the realization that at any time, our parents, siblings, partners, children, best friend, or even we can physically stop living, then we would have more meaningful relationships, and we would take care of each other and ourselves more. If we are not afraid of the natural process of someone leaving their body, we can be really present when someone makes their transition. If we are not afraid, we can think about what if my departure date was tomorrow. Would I be ready? Is my conscious clear? Are my relationships at peace? Are my finances in order? Am I leaving many problems for my family?
We would probably lead a completely different life. Wouldn’t we? Maybe you remember the song, “Live Like You Were Dying”? So, let’s take risks that move us forward and give us joy, let’s love deeper, speak sweeter, forgive always, and live as if tomorrow was a gift.