A friend lost unexpectedly someone dear recently and it naturally brought up the topic of my next post because the understanding of the nature of death has marked a turning point in my life.
When I was 13 I lost my great grand mother. Until then I was an impossibly spiritual child. I believed in God and angels, fairies and other invisible beings. My great grand mother was a critical actor in those beliefs as she used to invent fairy tales for me. Through her and because my childhood was not exactly uneventful I had surrounded myself with a beautiful world filled with loving, sublime characters that would counteract the ugliness, unfairness and violence I saw around me. I couldn’t see them but I most definitely could sense their presence. When she got sick I prayed to the God I believed in to spare her… Poor woman was 97 and it was most clearly her time to go and she did. But that was something I just could not understand in my young head. I was so fuelled by anger and incomprehension for the utter unfairness of the situation that I turned to a world without Him/Her/It. It wasn’t very difficult mind you. We live in a world of rationality where spirituality has little if no place. And I was smart. When you are smart you surely understand that there is no such thing as a dude or an ‘energy’ that is ‘here for you’, sends you stuff or remove those stuff from your life.
And so, for the next 13 years of my life, I dived in the world we live in, following what other smart people said around me that ‘God’ is an invention of the feeble mind intended merely to reassure us in our time of despair.Done. Check.
At 26 I fell into a dark, long period of depression. Clinical depression. Not a passing sadness, might I add, as depression seems to be a word we use now to evoke any state of non utter happiness… True I was going through some tough things: work, love, sickness, other deaths… But it was more than that. Fundamentally I had no hope left. The world we live in, you see, sucks all hope from us the minute we ‘fail’ at the milestones that society tells us we should be achieving. It also tells us that all is struggle. It tells us there is no ‘goodness’ and most definitely no sense or purpose to anything we are going through.
It’s like this silly, it’s life.
During the next decade though I ‘encountered’ new authors. Not the philosophy or business authors I was brought up to read but more spiritual ones if you will. I discovered Paulo Cuelho, James Redfield, Neale Donald Walsh and countless others. Bit by bit I realised there are other truths out there than the one preached by our all reigning science and rationality. And at that stage I realised I could not live in the belief that there was nothing else than what you can see, touch or hear. I just couldn’t live in a world where you eat, sleep, work and possibly have fun at times with no sense of purpose whatsoever. It was killing me, literally, to force myself in that belief. So bit by bit I set out to find a new truth for myself, inspired by the thoughts and experiences of others, contemporary authors and long gone Masters.
The religion I was born in didn’t believe in reincarnation. But I came to embrace that thought rationally not because I was taught that is. To me it was the only sensible way to reintegrate fairness in what we are experiencing. If you believe life does not end in death but merely repurposes itself to another form of energy then it all makes sense. In that belief, the fact that you are currently living a life of rich, poor, sick or healthy is just the reflection of a moment in time, but you, or your soul, goes through all of it, through several lives and each has a purpose.
There is a book I read at that time that was critical in this understanding. It is called ‘An inquiry into the existence of guardian angels’ by Pierre Jovanovic and as the name suggest it is a book that looks at the invisible in a very rational journalistic way. It reports on the countless testimonies of near death experiences in its first part (the second part of the book develops into mystical visions and has a definite religious tint to it that can put off a few) and when you read those testimonies you cannot believe there is nothing after death. It is honestly impossible. And when you come to that realisation you start looking at your current life differently… with purpose. Because the belief that we go through several lives inherently suggests there is a meaning to each. It is definitely not a case of live, die, repeat, randomly.
Death scares us because it means the end of this life as we know it
and, let’s face it, we like what is known. Whether we are enjoying it or not is a different matter but at least this life we know so we hang on tightly to it. Death in this society is also seen as a punishment. Oh poor X or Y died… How do you know they are miserable right now? Or that they have turned into oblivion? If anything our good old rational physics has long stated that nothing disappears or gets created for that matter, everything transforms. Forget spirituality, the Saint of Physics said so! If energy never disappears, and we all agree on the fact that we are made of energy, why would we disappear? It is physically impossible. Our body stops functioning. That is all. The underlying energy that made the person you love hasn’t disappeared and has most definitely not turned miserable suddenly. It took a form most of us cannot see. That is all.
But that is not the only reason why we hate death and we pass judgement on it. We hate it because it took someone we love and that presence is gone to never come back in the shape we knew. And this is probably the greatest reason why death is definitely not our friend. Beyond the ‘it is not fair’, particularly when someone is ‘taken’ at a young age and with no warning, the real unfairness is towards us, the ones who stayed behind. The ones who will never again get to laugh or cry or argue or listen to the stories of the one who is gone. That sadness, that anger is ours, the ones who are left behind and we are entitled to that feeling. If anything (see the post On emotions and taking things ‘personally’) we have to express and live fully those feelings of loss, incomprehension, sadness, anger, frustration. We have to for our own sanity. We have to be with the others who experience that loss and talk, cry, maybe even laugh at the memories.
The worse thing we can do is repress those emotions and continue ‘as if’. There is no ‘as if’. That person is gone.
If and when we go through the full range of emotions that this loss has brought us. If and when we reach the realisation that this person is gone for us but has moved on for him or her. Mind you, it took me 13 years to reach that realisation… If and when we let in the belief, even faintly, that this person was not ‘taken’ against their will as some sort of cruel punishment but has designed his/her life in that way for a reason and has chosen that moment for a reason, albeit an unconscious reason as few of us are aware of the process that happens in the ‘after life’ and in the ‘in-between lives’. Then maybe we can move on with what this experience has taught us.
Life, this life as we know it, is limited in time. It can be short for some or far too long for others but it is limited. What we do, think and feel is important. The way we will decide to move on is important. We can submit and give up or we can gain a new understanding and make it meaningful.
To the people I love who have lost someone dear recently or less recently, I say this. If that person was important to you, let their life and death influence you in the most beautiful way possible. Become who you are meant to be. Who you have set yourself to be, when you were nothing else but pure consciousness, pure energy. For them and for you. Learn, every day, every way. Feel, every day, every way. Act, engage, commit, every day, every way. If they couldn’t make sense of their lives, maybe you can. For them and for you. Life matters. Any life matters. And you are a part of this life. So start living.
With all my love,