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March 1, 2013

The Importance of Dying.

In the past three years I have lost my grandmother, an aunt, my brother and my mom.

I am just 31 years old.

If you take the timeline just two years further back, four more significant family members passed away, as well.

My mother’s in-home care nurse used to call us the Kennedy’s—we were blessed in so many ways, yet also seemingly plagued by loss.

Life is death, just as it is birth, and (depending on your belief system) rebirth.

Here in the West we are hell bent on denying that fact and slowing the process. People renovate their faces and bodies like their homes. Mortality is kept hidden within mortuaries and dead bodies are rarely seen unless manicured to look like dummy-doll versions of people’s former selves.

In the East, dying is understood as a natural part of life. Perhaps because there’s belief in rebirth, which makes death easier to grasp and less final. There are entire sects of Buddhism devoted to learning how to meditate so that upon death, their soul will be in a peaceful state and more likely to achieve a higher birth order when reborn.

The reality is we’re all going to die, just as we were all born.

And loss is unfortunately a part of life. People who have experienced little bereavement are actually the exception rather than the rule.

Death never gets easy though, no matter how many times you go through it. And with each person who passes (or any loss really; including break ups or divorces) old wounds are brought to the surface like scar tissue aching on a rainy day.

What is hard is learning to live when those we love are gone.

I didn’t believe I could live without my mother. A friend who lost her father recently asked me how I could go on after something so sad. We don’t move on, but we do move forward.

And death can actually be a blessing as it is a reminder how precious life is.

For without death, life would have no meaning.

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Ed: Lynn Hasselberger

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