In North America we have a strong aversion to and in many case denial of death. Human death happens 57 millions times a year on the planet – in Canada we experience 251,000 deaths yearly. It is a very common, natural experience that many of us wish we didn’t have to deal with. Death is a topic that most of us don’t even want to talk about.
When you look around at the world and really notice some of our behaviors it becomes obviously clear that we are totally afraid of death. We seem to be holding on for dear life. Death and ageing are made wrong. Botox, facelifts, butt tucks, excessive medical interventions, crazy diets and all manner of efforts to demonstrate our belief we have some form of mastery over death. In fact all our strategies speak of our abject fear of ageing and dying.
Whether we speak it out loud or not most of us are in the fear of death boat on one level or another. It shows up as being risk adverse, supressed and somewhat pulled back from the edge of life – from life as it really is – from the magic of plain and simple everyday living.
Well, I have tossed myself into the world of death and dying. I am working as a cremationist 5 days a week and I am volunteering my time as a hospice visitor so I am in it fully. I have taken death as my teacher and here is what I have discovered
Life and death are sides of the same coin.
We don’t trust death.
Our elders have immense life wisdom.
I will explain.
In the world of opposites that we all live in, we tend to prefer one opposite more than the other. In some pairs of opposites it is less obvious than with these two – life and death. Of course most of us prefer life and would rather death get lost so we don’t have to deal with it.
Here is the catch I have discovered. To the degree we deny death or are frightened of it we are equally in denial of life or are afraid of it.
Put another way if I embrace my death fully and take it as an ally or inspiration I similarly take on my life! I can’t deny death and expect to have a passionate life. By embracing my death I bring an end to the deadly habit of waiting for the right time, the right job or the right ——.
Procrastination goes out the window and living life is ushered in.
Secondly, we do not trust death. When death comes knocking the fight is on and most of us do all kinds of thing to avoid the inevitable. Using the law of opposites if we do not trust death we will not trust life. When life doesn’t go the way we want it we fight it – we don’t trust it. We make it wrong and rail against it. What would happen if we trusted life and made it right? Wow would we ever learn and grow.
Sitting with our elders by their death beds as I do often I have really learned to listen. The gems of wisdom that roll off their tongues are truly life informing. If we were all to spend 2 hours a week sitting with our elders, (not olders), we would all learn things about life that would greatly enhance our own living.
Death and impending death inform life if we would only learn to listen. Since jumping fully into to world of death I have made some significant changes in my own living. Here are a mere few;
I call my boys daily and don’t miss a day.
I call my mom 3 times a week, and my brother too.
I don’t put off until tomorrow what I can do today.
I am not so interested in being right.
My life is way more exciting, raw, alive and full of magic than I recall it ever being. Perhaps this is simply because I am now more in it than ever before. I know on a mind body spirit level I am dead at some point, it is not a thought to me it is a deep acceptance and knowing. This visceral experience has opened me to the absolute joy of living my life just as it is. Doing what I can to live in alignment with my heart’s wisdom.
Suggestions – Acceptance and Straight Talk
What would happen in your life if you really did accept the fact that one-day you will die – and you don’t know when that day will be.
Feel your own death, get it as a thought, get it in your body, feel it with your soul.
Do the same with your loved ones – get they are going to die too and you don’t know when.
This is real my friends, do this exercise with depth and reality and it will absolutely inform and change the way you live your life.
Spend some time with an elder and listen to their stories. If you are an elder tell yours!
Open to the reality of death, doing so makes the current moment of life richer.
The moment is all we really have.