My first memory of death was when I was 7 years old and my grandfather died from leukemia. At age 14, my father died from skin cancer. I’ve witnessed someone being murdered and a close friend of mine was killed.
My fascination of life and death, breathing and not breathing, made me start to see it in everything around us: we start a relationship, a relationship ends (whether by death or divorce); we start a new job, it ends; we gain a friend, and then maybe that friendship comes to an end; businesses open and close; and so on.
We may be afraid to live because it creates death in that familiar thing (whether materially or even habits). We may say we’re ok with dying (from a physical sense) but then we try to control everything in our personal and business life, to the point of controlling others and their perception of us, as we’re afraid of the death of the material things, our reputation, and ultimately “ego” stuff. We may be afraid to be single, afraid to leave a relationship, afraid to commit to only one relationship, or afraid to even be in a relationship (out of fear, a pattern or even death of a pattern). It can be challenging to see these things in ourselves.
You may think: I’m ok with moving into a new relationship, getting a new car, a new job, or re-locating to a new country. But are you ok with looking at the death of that past relationship, the death of your last job, the death of familiarity? Are you ok with looking at it and feeling it? Are you comfortable with staring death in the eye, instead of sweeping it under the rug and hopping onto something new? That’s where we’ll find growth, understanding and wisdom!
As Elizabeth Lesser says in Broken Open: “It is not easy to stay conscious during a painful or frightening process. We would rather turn away, drug ourselves, or feign indifference. It requires a delicate blend of curiosity, fortitude, and patience to trust in the wisdom and purpose of pain.”
Our suffering or unhappiness is in the death of something. And yet immense personal and spiritual growth (LIFE) can be gained when we look at death and the process.
When a person, plant, or animal dies, there’s sadness there but in the death there’s also a celebration as they feed the soil for new life to live and grow. There’s wisdom in the grief of the death – we begin to savour life and growth.