No one wants to die—it’s the finish line to this life that we’ve grown accustomed to, only you don’t get a trophy or a pretty red ribbon. Your reward is a front row ticket to the enigmatic experience of death. Heaven? Hell? Reincarnation? Nothingness?
It’s scary stuff.
It’s scary because we don’t understand it and we don’t know what happens. There is no proof or hard facts, only faith. To protect ourselves from this unknown, we ignore it. We let ourselves get distracted by work, drama and routine until one day it hits, jolting us to our very core.
I too feared death. Maybe not for myself, but for those I loved. What is worse than being alive when someone you love is not?
And then one day it happened—death came to meet my best friend. The kind of friend who gives you those deep belly laughs, who calls you on your bullshit and who loves you anyway. We met when we were seven and said goodbye at 27. She was bigger than a friend, she was my sister. Then, one morning in March, she was gone. She ceased to exist in any form that I could touch, feel, or understand and I was left in the wake of her sudden departure.
I’m writing this because death is creepy.
No one would agree more with that statement than my now dead friend. In fact, she would be totally creeped out that she was dead. Until she died, I skirted around the subject of death. I ignored it. I turned my mind away when it went there and I tirelessly avoided those hollow conversations with the family and friends of the dead.
But now, those days have passed. I have decided to make friends with death.
I want to coax it into the light and look it in the eyes. I want to scream at it. I want to bellow my fears and examine the unknowns. I want to step into truth and embrace all that death is. I am over hiding from something that inhabits us all. Death is merely the undercurrent of life and the bookend to birth. It’s innate, a natural progression.
So, from one death fearing person to another, I urge you to free the topic of death from your darkest thoughts and release it into the light. I made friends with death and so can you. Start by meeting death like you would meet any new friend: say hello.
Ask your questions of death. Search for answers in books, science, religion, God and nature. Don’t be shy. Face the tough questions and examine what you believe and what you don’t. Hindus believe in reincarnation and Christians in heaven. Both believe that the soul endures when the body dies. In science, the law of conservation of energy states that energy cannot be created or destroyed; it can only change from one form to another. Find whatever speaks to you. Be open to different ways of thought and feel secure with whatever you find to be your truth.
Let It Become Familiar
Death exists whether you speak about it five times a day or five times in a lifetime. Not taking about it doesn’t make it go away. Talking about death pulls it from the shadows and helps us become familiar with it. The shock value is lost. When death arrives, it will appear as a familiar friend. Be honest with loved ones and children. They will die and so will you and that’s okay. Be frank and don’t stumble in your words. Let death become as present as life.
When death comes to those you love, mourn them. Roar with anger and sink into the great cavern of sadness that opens up but, please, remember that this is natural. It is only death. Death cannot dissolve love. It has no power to steal joy or memories. Speak of the dead often and without sorrow or solemnity. Let them be as present in your words and thoughts as they always were. Laugh, smile and tell their stories. Cry. Think of them, pray for them, speak to them, remember them.
Join the Circle
We are a giant tribe of beings. Act like it. Support one another without fear or hesitation. Talk to the family and friends of the dead as you always did. Welcome them as they are, heavy with loss or at ease with peace. Share your memories, sadness and frustration with them. Don’t hide from them or pretend as if there was no alteration to their life. Drench them in strength and love when they need it, provide laughter and distraction when they don’t. Pour love into them until they’re drenched in it.
It is only when our friendship with death is as valued as our friendship with life that we can overcome it. Accept its beauty and scars as you accept this erratic life or the highs and lows of your most capricious friend.
I lost someone I loved and so will you. That’s okay. We must acknowledge death and comprehend its power to hurt us, but not turn our backs to it and run away.
Be a warrior, devoid of fear and participate in both life and death freely and joyfully.
Author: Evie Carrick
Editor: Katarina Tavčar
Photo: Amanda Bowman/Flickr