As I watched my Mom struggle with the dying process, I realized that in our society, death and dying are not talked about. In fact, talking about the death of someone close to you is akin to jinxing them and their life. We put off making wills and estate planning or designating health care power of attorney forms. We just don't want to think about aging and our ultimate mortality.
Sadly, death is a foreign and much feared topic that we don't learn about until we are faced with our own mortality or that of a parent or loved one. We get small tastes of it when our pet dies. Any teaching about what happens after we leave our mortal bodies has traditionally fallen to religion, but even the most devout can have inner conflict and fear making the transition.
Fear of death is major motivation to seek the fountain of youth, medicines that prolong life and so forth. Aging is seen as a curse, and those beyond the blush of youth often seek beauty aids, creams and surgery to retain a vestige of their younger years. Fear of death limits our ability to fully engage with life and provides our egos with a huge job and daunting power.
Death is one of life's greatest mysteries. People who have had near death experiences learn it is not the horrible end of life that we often perceive it to be. Religions have attempted to explain the experience by saying that the deceased goes to heaven or hell or will be reincarnated for another experience. Some people don't believe in an afterlife and think this is a one-time shot. No matter what we believe and rationalize, it still doesn't prepare one for the actual death experience.
I was raised Catholic and went to parochial schools. We were taught that when you died, if you were good, you could get into Heaven. But nothing was said about the dying process. Or maybe it was and like many young people who think their mortality is so far in the future that it doesn't exist, didn't hear it. Even medical professionals have a very precise, analytical description of the dying process, describing it as the decline in function or entropy of the body. We weren't taught about how to watch a loved one decline and fade away.
One person, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross wrote about the steps of grieving and started the hospice concept, which deals with the dying process, but one doesn't encounter that until they are in the midst of the process.
I learned from watching my mother, that dying is a very personal, inner process both for the one making the transition and for those left behind. Even though my mother was very religious, she was very afraid and distrustful that she would be admitted to heaven. With supportive words about all she had accomplished and could be proud of, as well and enlisting the help of her angels, invisible friends, family and pets, she slowly shifted her attention from this reality to the next. It was a silent, peaceful process.
Dying is the ultimate act of surrender and trust. My mom's process started out several years ago with a lot of fear which gradually shifted as she perceived herself and her life differently. It is a dynamic process of letting go by all the parties involved and each making peace with the events that happened with their parent throughout their life. You see, we are energetically connected to our parents and when we shift something in ourselves, our dying parent benefits, also.
As her daughter, suddenly all the trials and tribulations of childhood no longer were important. Instead, my focus shifted to the blessing I had received and the role she played in my life, that contributed to making me strong and wise. I thought I just had to forgive her for our challenging life and that was all. But I discovered there was a bigger picture which deepened my respect and appreciation for her and the angst of my childhood evaporated.
We are born into human form to have experiences, grow, learn and expand our Soul's consciousness. Each of us plays a role for everyone we come into contact with. We are challenged to become more than we have been. The people in our lives, especially our parents, are key players in our personal evolution.
Even if your relationship with your parents was challenging, painful and left scars or blissfully supportive, I invite you to see your parents and caregivers as playing a very important part in your life. See them as a blessing for giving you the gift of life and offered you the opportunity to become more than you were.
It would be great to talk about death, dying and our mortality openly and without fear of inadvertently cursing the person or pet to an untimely death. We are much more aware that we want to admit and intuitively know when someone's time is up, yet we are afraid to speak it.
I'd love to hear your perspective on death and dying.
Continue reading with Part 2: Rewriting the Story of the Past.
Spiritual Teacher and Healer