The last week has, ironically and sadly, seen several of my friends experience the death of a loved one or someone close to them.
I myself have had many encounters with death, and truly know how the heart and mind looks for ways to make sense of what has happened. Often, we think things that we will never share with another for fear that our grief has made us unbalanced in our reactions.
But in truth, no matter how strange our thoughts in times of grief, they are just part of the process of making semblance of an occurrence that is confusing at best.
For humans, letting go is a most difficult life lesson.
In some civilizations of old, when a person was experiencing grief, they were allowed to leave the clan or village and reside by themselves in the woods until their grief was spent. They could scream, weep, tear at their hair and fully immerse in the pain of it all, until pain was transmuted into peace.
Their clan members would bring them food and solace but mainly they left space for the griever to experience the pain instead of laying it aside, so that they could continue on with their daily contributions to the group. Others would take over their chores or responsibilities.
There was no time limit on this process. No one told them that they were wallowing, or that by now they should be on to the next stage of grief.
I think that modern society could learn from this.
There is no right way and there is no right amount of time; there is only the need for soulfully transitioning through a process that tears us apart, and if we allow it to, puts us together again.
“Death is a stripping away of all that is not you. The secret of life is to “die before you die”—and find that there is no death.” ~ Eckhart Tolle.
Some people are good at this, living life to the fullest, their being completely immersed in what it means to be truly alive, as we are when we do not inhabit our human body and are light beings on the other side.
In the circle of life: birth, life, death and re-birth, we are like the stars—light and love, immersed at once in the velvet of the midnight sky and reflected in the vastness of the ocean, an expression of all that is.
We are spring, we are summer, we are autumn and in the winter we turn inward, and we begin again after a rest into spring.
Although it may seem that when we die young, we are leaving before our time, in reality, though our bodies may not reflect our winter stage, our spirit has found its purpose and spins once more into the ever-turning wheel of life.
We have always been and always will be. We are Infinite.
On my right arm, I have tattooed several symbols of the cycle of life and an affirmation of my place in the Universe.
The words “I Am” remind me of my divine self.
The infinity symbol reminds of the continuum of life.
The triskele, a Celtic symbol of the maiden, mother and crone, earth, sea and sky, and another symbol of the wheel turning.
Sa Ta Na Ma, a yoga mantra that means birth, life, death and re-birth and which I utter through a whole yoga set.
On my skin is written that I am part of the natural rhythms of life.
The words below reflect my own humanity in times of grief. I offer them to anyone who is suffering. May it be of benefit.
You’re gone, you’re gone.
My mind finds ways to repeat this phrase but my heart can make no sense of the words.
You were here, a light, a song on all our souls, filling the spaces we did not know were empty until you left.
How is it possible that in one moment you are body, spirit and joy and the next there is nothing at all?
You’re gone, you’re gone; my mind still wants to reverse that moment when your life slipped into the ether, when you became spirit and were no longer the worlds.
I want that moment back, the last one to see you breathing, I want to erase time; I want to understand that instant where life is reversed into death.
Like a candle snuffed out…surely there is a way to find that moment in time and scream, “Hell no! Stop! This is a mistake!
There is no time to prepare. Not for an accident, not for any kind of slipping away.
I’ve been staring at a picture of you. You’re smiling, life beaming through your eyes.
How unaware we are of what is to come. Time stretches before us. We never sit and say, “I’ve got three days left. I’ve got one month left. Tomorrow I’ll be gone…there is only this moment.”
How cruel. How very cruel, that in the moments before death we can be so vibrantly alive.
It’s the unknowing that seems like we have been betrayed, because who would laugh five minutes before their life unraveled? Would it not be fair to be warned?
My mind is full of thoughts that can only bring me pain. I torture myself with these ridiculous questions until there are no tears left to be shed.
I’m trying to understand but all I come up with is that you’re not here.
I question my sanity. Who thinks like this, who digs in the ashes for last moments, last thoughts; like an undertaker who wants to resurrect the dead.
I must be crazy. I want your last words. I want to touch you hand, I want to pull you from that fateful day.
Come back to me, I cry in my grief. Come back and tell me that this is a dream. I know I will wake up and you’ll be here.
Just let me sleep and you’ll see, this will have been a terrible dream.
How many times must I sleep and wake and still find this strange reality upon me?
How many days before I stop feeling your essence this strongly and almost touch you when I close my eyes?
How does grief become transmuted into something less raw, less obsessive, less my enemy?
I lie down and allow myself to feel. I fall into the pain. I let it consume me like a fire.
I am going to burn until there is only your smile left. I will burn until I no longer feel pain but only the joy of knowing you.
And then, I will have you back. For then you will live on in the purity of my love for you.
You passed away, and I am left with this empty space in my heart.
Author: Monika Carless
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Image: Original Artwork used with permission, Gaia Orion, “Our Journey”