​Looking at death…

There are many ways to look at death, but what our western culture has done is that it has moved death into the wings, into the background of life, even off the stage of our life, denying its existence, out of fear.
A year into the pandemic, we have seen more death around us than many years before: more than 465.000 fellow Americans lost their life to this virus. Dis-ease and death are here. Every day. On tv. In our family, our neighborhood. Among our friends. My brother got covid, my daughter did. Thank God they both survived. Not everyone is that fortunate. One of my partner’s friends lost 3 family members in 1 night!
Death has always been around us, with or without a pandemic. Everyday our day dies, with the birth of the night, and with the birth of the day, the night dies. The summer dies and becomes the fall; the fall dies and becomes the winter; the winter dies and becomes the Spring. The days, nights and seasons are transitioning into another. Death is there, even though we may not recognize it as such. Death really is transition, from one place, one state of consciousness, to another.
Death is out there, and death is also within us. Our skin dies every 7 days. We go through internal transitions too, letting “our old self die” so we can develop into our new self. We transition the moment we are conceived, we transition when we are born, we transition when we go to our first day in school, we transition when we fall in love for the first time, we transition when we become parents (literally or figuratively), we transition when we become elders, and we transition when we die.
Every night when we go to sleep we are practicing the first stages of dying, transition from our waking hours to our sleeping hours: We will get heavy, we stop moving, our temperature changes and then our breath changes. Just not till death, but every night we, often subconsciously, rehearse transitioning from life to death.
Death is within our dreams too. The wise people in the ancient indigenous traditions teach us that dying in our dreams, in our subconscious during the night, is actually a positive thing! It means that something inside of us, that we no longer need, has passed on; we can now, in our waking hours, live free from it, and move closer to what we are meant to do, fulfilling our life’s purpose.
Talking about death makes me conscious about so much to be grateful for, of what I have, of what I can experience: life, family, friends (even over zoom/FaceTime!), health, a purpose to live for. Life without death seems not possible they are 2 sides of the same coin. Just like night and day. Death as part of life encourages me to live more fully, more consciously, from my heart.

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