What Of Death?

We sometimes forget that all life eventually comes to its end. If we are privileged to live longer than most the inevitability of our own physical demise and transition comes to the forefront taking us into unknown territory and, for most, the inevitable fears that accompany this passage.

You see, we are constantly reminded of the cycle of birth, growth, change, death and regeneration every day of our lives. A tutorial or “rites of passage” given to us freely from the vast source of all creation without asking anything from us in return.

Do we pay attention?

Little “deaths” more vividly and intimately felt as we advance in years and reflect back on our lifetimes. Death of the ego in surrendered moments; of expectations; of lost beloveds and relationships; of old patterns of being; of physical functions either temporarily or permanently lost’; of seasons and rhythms in the natural world that are a constant presence throughout our lives – all an intimate part of this cycle of life, death and regeneration in its many and variable forms throughout our time here.

Do we recognize these lessons as being within the whole, interconnected pulsation of life? It took me awhile to do so. Each one of us must come to a reckoning with our own very individualized passing from embodied life.

This is a vast territory to explore and one which is abundant with books, stories told, spiritual/religious philosophies/beliefs which resonate and give us solace at stages along the way, and others points of views. Yet each of us has a unique intimate experience with death throughout our lives which leads us to the inevitable passage and experience leading to our own. A continuum that is written in the archives of our souls.

Each creature and living being has its own cycle, some living much longer than humans and others with brief physical lives that hardly seem to touch us. I have been taught well throughout my lifetime about endings. We all have been in some form or another.

What initiated me at age 14 as a young-woman-to-be when my mother died suddenly at age 39, was an abrupt loss that I didn’t know would craft my patterns and way of being for many, many years to come. She was my first human embodied death, with many to come afterwards.

For the most part they would come in unsolicited and unexpected ways. Perhaps in some preordained way we choose the lessons that weave themselves throughout our lifetimes. Even the ones that contain our own suffering and grief.

i was to go on in my life with the sudden death of my youngest son’s father at age 42, with immense repercussions for both myself and my 7-year old son; the death of my father at 89 passing in his sleep in the middle of the night as I reached the age of 40; to losing a child early on in a pregnancy, seemingly a soul that wasn’t ready to come in yet; to the loss of two beloved women friends this year to the ravaging effects of metastatic cancer; to the many lives lost of individuals that touched my life in some way, some who clung to life not willing to surrender.

Not stopping there my chosen medical profession brought me many more lessons about the continuum of life and death. As a facilitator of a brain tumor support group for families and patients while working in Neurosurgery as a nurse/technical assistant; as facilitator and creator of a yoga based stress management and alternative healing group for women living with breast cancer while working in General Surgery; being present in a clinic waiting area when a woman who had chronic pain for years fell to the floor and “coded”, and when brought back to life her first words to the resuscitation team, “Why did you bring me back?”; watching an in patient in the hospital literally will himself to die with no scientific or medical explanation for his passing; holding the hand of a beloved patient with a terminal brain tumor and saying to him that it was OK to go if he was ready (he passed within 24 hours); sitting with a family in a nursing home as a hospice volunteer and being of support as their mother’s last heartbeat and breath arrived, and with it the peace that emanated throughout the room along with the grief.

Simply accepting the inevitability of our own transition from embodiment may not be enough.

The rawness of full embodied being in this moment in time will never come again. It will be followed by another and another and another until that final act of surrender. Some with immense challenges and others filled with love, beauty and mystery – all to be savored in the miracle of the now we have been given.

All to be transparently acknowledged and felt to the very core of our being….recognizing when it is our time to let go.

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