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July 2, 2019

7 Ways Making Friends with Death can lead to the Colorful, Joy-Filled Life we Crave.

 

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If we had the chance to sit with a master teacher who could hand us a key to embody the joy-filled, intense, and colorful life we secretly crave to live, would we say yes?

What if its name was death?

Well, darling, buckle up—we’re in for some growth.

Just dropping the word death in a conversation tends to send shivers up our backs, followed by ice-cold waves of numbness vibrating through our intestines. And cue the awkward silences.

We feel uncomfortable and want to swim right back into the crystal clear, shallow waters of our comfort zone. We mumble inaudible sounds, never seeming to find quite the right words.

By this time we’ve usually reached the end of the conversation.

Instead of diving into the unknown that death so often challenges us to explore, we’d rather hide from it under the veils of fear and denial. But can we really create a great life when we are afraid of what’s to come? When we’re denying an inevitable part of life? I don’t think so.

To be completely honest, I had a hard time writing this article. Not wanting to kill the vibe on a beautiful summer day, I felt like I was invoking dark clouds onto a sky of ease. Ironically, that is exactly what let me sit down and write these words—from my heart to yours. For the sky can change at every second, and when it does, it’s important to have a shelter to rest under and maps to navigate the storm. Because sooner or later, it will come.

Eventually, we all have to learn our lessons, and mine came in my early 20s when my father passed away suddenly. Without any warning, the life that I knew broke into a thousand pieces, filled with darkness.

For a while, I felt lost in a heavy state of grief and confusion. Back then, I didn’t have any knowledge or tools that could have helped me to swim in those deep, open waters with trust that the surface would appear again.

You see, I was raised in the western culture of Germany, and I remember that death always felt like this estranged, unwelcome cousin dressed in disguise who just showed up randomly, dramatically, and most certainly without an invitation. And when it did, it was devastating—and so was the silence around it. There was no space to get familiar with it, not in our education system or our homes.

Death was a big, dense, hushed-away taboo kind of guy.

Building onto that unhealthy foundation, I chose the path of numbing the pain with massive partying for a time—another great trait of the German culture. Sleeping for just a few hours every night, drinking way too much, and running around like an escaped zombie from one of those Stephen King novels most definitely was not the cocktail that got me even a little bit close to healing my wounded heart.

Even without us being consciously aware of it, when we have reached a point in our lives where none of the old techniques work anymore, we enter a space of surrender. We acknowledge that there is no other way but to grow in the face of the challenge, which skyrockets us into the next level of our lives and brings us closer to who we truly are.

Looking back to my own healing journey, I can now see how I was trying to deal with all of those intense emotions the transition of my father had set free within me. I was knocked out by all of the sadness, frustration, and anger toward life. It just didn’t seem to make any sense, and I spent a serious amount of time questioning this existence in a dark, moldy cave of grief—refusing to cooperate.

Rawness became my best friend, and I will forever be grateful for her showing up in my life at that point.

She ripped off the layers of numbness that stuck on my skin, she ignited a burning fire in my veins, and she kicked down the walls I had sought to build between feeling and being.

She had me strip it all off.

Learning to allow the emotions to flow through me was difficult, but necessary. They sometimes came in the form of tsunamis flooding anything that stood in their way. At other times, they rushed in like burning, hot winds straight from the heart of the Sahara, sent to me to ensure I left nothing ignored. Sitting in an emptiness the eye could not see, I took nothing for granted anymore.

It felt like I was learning to walk again.

It was a long, rocky path, and it took me a few years to figure out how to stand deliberately on my feet again. But somewhere along the way, in the middle of the stumbling, falling, and getting back up, I began to listen to what death was trying to teach me.

1. There is not just one recipe that works the same way for all of us.

One thing I began to realize in those years was that showing up for myself is all I am asked to do. And it includes trying out various pathways, offerings of healing, and techniques. There is no one-list-serves-all, step-by-step guide to deal with death. Some might be able to feel all the feels right away, while others like me might need to experience patterns of numbness before being able to explore and process properly.

Do what you need to do, be where you need to be, and trust that your heart knows the direction.

2. Beyond the pain is your truth.

Even if it seems far out there, once we move through all those tremendously challenging emotions, we find ourselves ultimately on a journey to ourselves. Within the sadness, the depression, and the frustration lies a liberating rawness where old masks no longer fit. You begin to sense yourself and your reality in a heightened state of awareness. You begin to question what’s true to you and how you perceive life.

You agree to wake up, to grow, to see beyond the visible. You are meeting your raw, true self.

3. Nothing is forever.

I am aware that for many of us this can be a triggering thought to play with. We get easily attached to whatever experience life presents to us, the great and the terrible. We create an identity around it, defined by the past and longing for a better future. But life is not like that—it is a cosmic interplay of creating and releasing. Giving and receiving. Dark and light. Nature reflects this cyclical dance at every moment. It is in the changing of the seasons, encoded within all wild creatures, as well as within our own cells.

The beautiful words of Dr. Wayne Dyer nail it: “If you realize that all things change, there is nothing you will try to hold on to.” When there is nothing to hold onto, you have both of your hands free to create the life your soul yearns for.

4. Life happens right now.

When we are moving with the flow of life at all times, in joy and sorrow, we begin to anchor ourselves in the present moment. A sweetness opens up to us, shining light on the precious uniqueness of the here and now, of this life that we’ve been gifted. It invites us to embody the sacredness of being alive and venture into the infinite well of options that each moment holds.

5. Feel it all.

It is an illusion that we can hide away from the feelings that scare us, the ones that carry such intensity. Once we begin to resist a particular vibration and label it negative, an energetic blockage is created. The connection is disabled and it will consume us until we have released it. We actually create a much bigger deal around it than if we’d just sat down with it when it first showed up.

I get how scary it can be, but fear is what keeps us separate, what holds back the growth that needs to happen. I am not suggesting to push through ignoring what’s at play. If you can, simply breathe into it and open the conversation with those feelings and emotions, allowing support in if they become overwhelming.

6. For growth, we need death.

When we are navigating through the grieving process, we are creating space within us for something new to grow. If we were never faced with situations that challenge us in the fibers of our bones, we’d have no invitation to declutter what is no longer needed. It doesn’t always need to be the traumatic, dramatic loss of a beloved—but it’s the same principle because we are cyclic beings.

Just as nature has her time to release and retreat, so do we. Being able to let go is crucial if we wish to learn, to thrive, and to walk our path in authenticity.

7. Put fear aside and let curiosity be your new superstar.

Death is the only certainty in life. Still, we try to hide it in the deepest corners of our minds, mystifying it by wrapping it in silence. We spend a great amount of time and energy trying to ignore it.

I say, f*ck that—it’s not a healthy way to deal. We need to get comfortable again with the impermanence of life and thus, its ending. Let’s share our experiences, let’s have those weird and goofy and uncomfortable conversations, opening a space that welcomes the unknown with curiosity.

There is so much beauty in all of the colorful moments we are here to experience. Let’s kick those old ghosts out from our closet and jump into the river of life.

May this article ignite some curiosity within you to create a magical life without any restrictions based on our fear of endings, transformations, and all the in-betweens.

May it be of benefit.

~

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