When it's over, I want to say all my lifeI was a bride married to amazement.I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.When it's over, I don't want to wonderif I have made of my life something particular, and real.I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened,or full of argument.I don't want to end up simply having visited this world
- Mary Oliver
When I teach lessons on dying, I start by asking about how my students were born. I ask them what they know about it and how they would've liked to instead come through. Next, we dive right into imagining their deaths in detail. Yes, that drastic of a transition.
We're all going to die. It's okay everyone dies one time in this lifetime, but we live every day.
As young people, we feel far away from death. Even as it takes people near to us, there is an infinite passion within us that says, "I have my whole life ahead of me." Eventually, our passion and immortality wane. As we mature, we feel the impending sense that time is running out.
Think of yourself on your death bed.
Who is there by your side?
What emotions do you see on their faces?
How does it feel to know you are about to leave this world and all the people you know and love?
You see The Angel of Death Approach at your feet, calm and patient, locking eyes with you. You look up into the eyes of your loved ones, and they say something you need to hear so you would be ready to go.
Your eyes close one last time, and death is there to carry and take you home again.
How peaceful that experience would be, especially compared to an alternative.
Think of yourself on your death bed.
You are stunned. Why are you on your death bed now?!
You weren't ready yet!
You still had so much to do, and see, and finish!
Life, your own life, flashes through your mind as it scrambles for a way out.
The work your soul had come to do is incomplete, but you can't stick around to finish it.
Now you see the Angel of Death, and you begin to weep angry and sad tears.
- I am getting depressed writing this, so I hope you get the idea.
Imagine either scenario above, but this time insert a lot of projections from the people you love most. Imagine not hearing any of the things that would help you. Your parent, child, spouse, or sibling is pleading with you not to leave them. Meanwhile, you lay in your bed and see the Angel of Death showing you the doorway home. You hold on as long as you can to comfort the ones you love. That scene is heart-wrenching.
None of us want to leave this world with that kind of anxiety. Unfortunately, all too often, we cause this anxiety in our loved ones before they go.
When the people we can't imagine life without do indeed leave, there are several gifts we can bestow them.
Permission to go
Let your loved ones know you will be alright and that their work here is completed and well done.
Absolute and unconditional love
As in, don't make it about yourself. Just give them love.
Recognition and appreciation of their impact
This is reaffirming that their work here is completed, and there is nothing left to be done.
Presence and focus
Don't. Make. It. About. Yourself. What do they need? What do they want? Pay attention to the cues they offer rather than make their decisions for them.
Honor and celebrate them
Don't wait for the funeral to praise your loved ones. Celebrate in their honor.
Don't fall into the trap of bypassing your healing by focusing on everyone else. Be emotionally responsible and make sure to take space for your process.
There is but one simple kindness that we always hope is not needed, the Death Rites. When it is relevant this is one of the greatest gifts you can give to your loved ones who have passed away.
What can you do today, to bring you a step closer to a sense of peace when the Angel of Death calls your name?
How can you begin to make peace now, with the fact that death is a part of life?
Consider how you process shock, loss, and other difficult news. Listen to what your responses and your body are teaching you. How can you take a more responsible role in your relationship with yourself?
- Laurën Blūm -