When we die we are born into a new existence and those we leave behind enter a new stage of their lives. I believe that Death is a sacred journey, a rite of passage, for both the individual and those lives they touched.
Death is not something to fear, it is a mystery and can be blessing. Education about death should be embraced, so that one can look on it with as much understanding as possible. We can learn from our losses and the losses of others. We can learn from the processes and experiences we have all witnessed and seen first hand. We can share this knowledge with others openly without shame or fear.
Avoidance of the subject of death and dying can be unhealthy. In the end, we all die. As a pastoral counselor, I have often seen how avoidance only makes it more difficult and causes more trepidation.
Those who have experienced the death of a loved one know that it can be difficult; however, it is often a chance for personal growth. We can learn so much about our own mortality when someone we knew and loved makes this journey before us. We can honor their lives by remembering them and the lessons they taught, both in their life and in their death.
I remember a conversation with a co-worker who was shocked and saddened by the loss of her mother. For weeks she just slowly went through her mother’s things, packing and sorting them. Never considering what they really meant, that her mother was really gone or how blessed that she had been to have been there and had those moments with her. Then one day, surrounded by her mother’s things, she happened upon a picture of her mother as a little girl with her grandmother. Her mother was so happy in the photo, it reminder her of herself when she was young. She started to feel connected to her mother again even though she was gone, she remembered her and shared that memory and others with her daughter. She had her help go through the rest of her mother’s things, find treasures that stored memories for them all. She said she felt closer to her mother than she had in years and they all felt very blessed.
From the dark night of the soul that many experience from the death of a loved one, a new understanding and appreciation for life can emerge. Much like a flower that has been living in the shadows, who suddenly finds the light simply by naturally allowing itself to turning toward the sun and trusting its own instincts. Its roots contain the visceral memory of all of its ancestors; it is nurtured by those that came before, just as it will nourish and provide knowledge to those that come after.
There is life, magic and a certain beauty to be found in the mystery that is death and that which it wrought and nurtures. This I believe.