Dying to Not Die -rethinking death
Death. The conversation many avoid. And my question is, why are we so afraid?
I have always been fascinated with history. I studied Ancient History as an elective for my HSC. I loved learning about the massive triumphs the Egyptians made with their bare hands and hard work. One thing that also fascinated me was how they looked at death.
The Ancient Egyptians' attitude towards death was influenced by their belief in immortality. They regarded death as a temporary interruption, rather than the cessation of life. I thought the after life was such hocus pocus during my younger years. But now, not so much.
Recently supporting a client who could not get out of quarantine before her sister passed of terminal cancer bought up so much self enquiry for me.
Her situation being blessed in one way, that she is a healer and can connect easily to her sister no matter where she is. She still was tormented by the "rules" of current life, as am I and maybe you too.
It made me think of my Nann who’s spirit slowly died through dementia. I used to sit with her in her hospice care as she cried, asking me to take her home. I would always hold her hand and put my hand on her heart and tell her home is where her heart is. I would remind her of the memories of baking cookies, making lunches and going on the bus would always be within me and her. No one could take them away from us nor change how we felt about them but us. She would always come back for a moment or two when I spoke of the past, smile and squeeze my hand.
I know it was still all within her, locked away for safe keeping. I was relieved when she passed and was no longer suffering and I am grateful she was not here for the year we have all lived through.
C-vid has certainly played on everyone’s fears. One being death.
I always have 2 premises about people who are choosing to wear masks, one is that they are terrified of being unwell and the other is the belief they protect others from harm and then maybe a side thought that they fear the repercussion for not complying. (best guide for surviving c-vid attached below)
I had the unfortunate experience of having to go to the Apple store as my laptop was not working. The procedure of getting into store, temperature taken, signing off that I had no c-vid symptoms and putting a mask on was a swift military procedure.
I started to really struggle to breath with my mask on. I really don’t know how people wear them all day. There was a sweet elderly couple on the other side of my service table trying to get their cordless mouse fixed. They were warm and friendly and were trying to engage in a conversation about what was going on as the service person replied short and coldly. The store was flat out busy, surely making the service team feel under pressure, yet I started to see such a gap in our ability to stay human. Then next minute, another employee said, sir put your mask on! The elderly man said, “but, I can hardly breath”. He did what he was told and endured a lecture from their service person. The elderly woman gave me a sweet how ridiculous smile.
My mind wandered, as I waited. What if someone actually did collapse with a mask on, which in turn set off a deathly asthma attack or heart issue. Who’s responsible? Just as the contraction of the c-virus isn’t the nail in the coffin, it's a potential speed up catalyst to those already fading from poor health and chronic conditions. https://Covid_19_Special_Report_from_Nora_Gedgaudas.pdf
The experience of this year has bought up many worst case scenarios we seek to avoid; illness, job loss, homelessness, bankruptcy, death, the unknown.
So many ask me, what is the purpose of all of this pain, suffering?
My answer is always a simple, I don’t know. Yet I do know that how you walk through pain and suffering is your ultimate in life. When you can ask the pain and suffering, what do I need to learn? what do I need to do differently? Rather than... Why me? ....It’s not fair! ... I can't do this!.... I don't want to do this!
Although I haven’t experienced death, I have certainly experienced the powerlessness of seizures. I was able to work out pretty quickly when they were about to happen and I have learnt that rather than resist what is coming, I allow myself to fall into what I can’t control. During the times of unconsciousness I have always had the same vision of a woman holding out her hand, ushering me to get up. Some tell me it's my angel. I'm not sure still, maybe it's a projection of my subconscious. Yet what I know for sure is, that she always gives me a sense of relief, making me feel that place, which kind of looks like a seedy nightclub, of all the places it could be, is not meant for me. I have read 100’s of other experiences of epileptics and all are very unique compared to those that I have heard, that come back from death, which all share a similar experience.
Dr Zach Bush, shared his experience in bringing 3 terminally ill patients back to life with a defibrillator. He shared that often that there is only a 4% chance a defibrillator will bring a patient back and on one night all 3 very unique patients came back, and asked him why did he do that?
He was fascinated by their reaction.
1 man dying from aids, abandoned by all who knew him except one. An African American pastor, respected, visited and worshipped daily and a young boy dying of genetic disease, well loved and celebrated by his school and family.
They all said when they left their bodies they felt something they never thought was possible - they felt completely accepted.
I thought, wow. Despite living different experiences, some would say that 1 of the men and the boy had all the reasons to already feel accepted but they didn't. I then thought how psychedelic that we can actually feel what we never allow ourselves too until we have physically died.
Maybe life is just a trip? a good trip and a bad trip and nothing lasting.
I don't know about you but I feel a real freedom in that. How much can I learn to walk through in this life?
I’ve recently put myself to a new test and joined Orange Theory fitness classes. Fascinated by all of you who regularly go. With no surprise I ended up joining in hell week, with the most challenging classes on offer.
The lady running next to me today, declared at the end. "That was such a mind game, my mind kept telling me I couldn’t do it."
I said to her, "but you did anyway".
As I write this I can barely walk. Keen to see where my body was at, I probably went a little hard. Yet I enjoy the elation when i’ve pushed through a certain pain point and most of all tested the endurance of my mind.
Now having the joy of not being able to sit or stand without wincing and shuffling around like I’m a 95 year old. I think this life is about moving, it’s not about staying and putting up with your current circumstance. If there’s a choice to change it, whether that’s simply how your thinking about it or actual physically changing it so it no longer exists.
Life's about saying thank you to the pain, thank you for the experience of suffering as it comes to teach us. Teach us we can make better choices, take care of ourselves in a better way, learn to appreciate through losing what feels like everything.
Yet everything we feel and believe we own, we don’t. The money, the stuff, the people can all go just like that and it shouldn’t matter because that’s not what life is about. Life is about every experience and what you make of it.
I know often through circumstances, like mine of seizures, it creates doubt, it can take away your memories. Yet they are still within. The joy I experience when I remember something I couldn't for so long, is like winning the lottery.
So whether you struggle with comprehending the loss of someone through death or you feel terrified about your own mortality. There is a message within it just for you. A message that will allow you to consider your choices and the memories you want to cherish.
The best gift we can give ourselves is what we make of every experience. The good and the bad as that is what no one can ever take away from us.
The more simplistic you can make things the easier it feels to no longer hold yourself back.
Maybe you're afraid of heights, afraid to show up without make up on or your hair done, afraid to speak your truth or afraid to let love in again. Whatever it is, remind yourself, so what! I maybe afraid, hesitant, worried, but i’m going to walk through this challenge anyway and choose to make it what I want to make it.
Rather than hide, dread, avoid and be in fear. What would you rather feel? I suggest you start walking and maybe even running toward that. 3, 2, 1 GO!