The sunnier side of my personality and probably the private side too told me not to write about my fear of death. I mean, c’mon, how depressing. Who wants to think about that? Must you, Antonia? Yes, unfortunately, if you want to know who I am at this point in my life, you have to know what I’m thinking, even the less popular, darker thoughts.
Why All of a Sudden?
I noticed about 6 months ago that I was thinking more about death, like every day. I couldn’t figure it out since no one near me had died recently, and I wasn’t aware of any sense of foreboding. Why all of a sudden? So, I looked inside myself and, at the same time, hit the books. You know me; I’m all about research when I have unanswered questions!
This short blog post is my initial look into the subject. But, be warned, this piece is open ended, there are no definitive conclusions, no all neatly-wrapped-up-and-tied-with-a-bow final outcomes. This piece is an opening to a conversation. If it’s a conversation you want to have, great. If not, that’s okay too.
First I started by trying to identify ways to alleviate this fear of death, exercises I could do, ways I could trick myself into accepting this scary thing that has lately been clouding my view of the world . Without any basic human nature around my reactions to just the thought of it, however, I couldn’t proceed down that avenue. Instead I used an excellent book, Who Dies? By Stephen and Ondrea Levine, to guide my tentative journey.
One of the first things I learned was, obviously, part of my fear is the lack of control. The impermanence of life can be rattling. I have worked so hard to set up a satisfying life that it seems almost insulting to have to fork it all over at a time and place and in a method without my input.
In Who Dies, the authors talk about how, because we identify ourselves so much with our ideas, beliefs and possessions, we see death as losing who we are. We use everything we have to become someone or something … “I am this”…and death takes that away. If we step rather into the space of being whole, moving closer toward a state of openness about who and what we are, we are more inclined to see ourselves as the path instead of the thing at the end of that path. Make sense? Like I said, it isn’t an easy or linear conversation.
Staying open is hard. The routine of every day makes it hard. Getting things done and taking care of business makes it hard. One thing in our favor is that it’s easier as we age to be more open. We have a little more time to open wider by meditating, listening rather than talking, not rushing to judgment and by picking our battles. Things fall away as we age: friends, the importance of material things, and hopefully our vehemence at the way it all has to be. What does all this have to do with death? I’m not sure, but it just feels to me a little less controlling and gut wrenching to be open to everything, including death, which will eventually affect me and us all.
The truth is that we are so much more than just our stuff or what we do or who we think we are. Sometimes if we – okay, I’ll stick to me – if I can’t see it or touch it, it’s easy for me to forget. I am grateful that my metaphysical education, which is expanding my point of view, helps me know and trust that Universal love exists and that I am more than who I think I am. This knowledge allows me to free myself from the idea that I’m going to have to let go of a lot of ‘stuff’ when I die. I don’t want to let go. But I can feel better about letting go when I think of all that ‘stuff’ being replaced with different intangible stuff like freedom, love, kindness, joy.
I wonder if I’m too obsessed, if I think about death too much, and I wonder if there are other people like me who have begun to feel it as an additional mantle to carry through life until it’s right there in front of me. I don’t want to be passive or avoid things that I might do to make life now, as well as my passing, much better.
Final Thoughts – No Pun Intended
You’ll notice there’s no Part I or reference to a Part II in the title of this post. I may never speak of it again. At least I’ve cracked open the door ever so slightly on this subject for myself and perhaps for you. There is a lot to look at about what our attitudes and actions are surrounding death. After these few words on paper, however, I’m not quite as afraid to open that door a little wider.
Please share your thoughts if you are so inclined. I’d be truly
Share your thoughts at: