Death Let’s get real Let’s talk about what we do not talk about Let’s talk about the nature of reality Let’s talk about the nature of MY reality Since it is me who is writing There will be a bias towards the way in which I see the world and this is something I cannot deny But I have come to understand now for some time That what I write is not inherently mine and that my experience is not mine either Those of us that write songs Or dance Or sing Or play an instrument Or write poetry Or create long literature We allow life to move through us and we allow collective emotion to be expressed through the tools we have learned to engage with Pens Paper Posts Online formats Words Articulation Expression These have been resources I have been able to express through They express an individual experience of a very universal reality So what is alive for me? What is alive for us? Who hears me? Death Anxiety Existential life questioning Fear These have been my companions this year In a deep way In a profoundly moving way In an uncomfortable way In a what the actual f&*k way In a when is this phase going to be over kind of way In a ok, you are here to stay kind of way In a let’s make peace with this kind of way In a ohhh you are the parts of me that have been rejected kind of way In a you are here to be HEARD kind of way Death has visited me in a new way this year Those of you that do not know me intimately Would not know my prior relationship with death So here is a bit of the backstory and I am sure the characters of my life Will reflect some of the characters of yours We are not so different you and I I lost many of the caretakers in my life By the time I was twelve A favorite uncle My grandfather My grandmother My step father (yet the only father I knew for most of my life) By the time I was thirteen I had attended quite a few funerals I had had my fair share of sick hospital bed visits I had placed flowers by many graves I had prayed to an invisible source to ease my suffering and to allow those I loved to rest in peace I threw myself deeply into Christian theology I launched myself into the altars of my small town church and I gave my peace of mind to “God” I prayed for peace I prayed for acceptance of what seemed unacceptable I found my way to something higher than myself My grief was too large to hold alone I became incredibly aware of the temporary nature of the human life As a young woman My first boyfriend The love of my life at that time Died in a tragic motorcycle accident just an hour after getting off a difficult call with me He parted the world in anger I was left with compassion that I was not able to give him in the moments before his death This stayed with me for some time The next two men I dated Would over time die in motorcycle accidents as well Years apart, and after we had stopped dating Their deaths also touched me deeply My estranged mother would die when I was 27 years old and that led me into a deep portal of transformation that “hippies” (myself included) sometimes call one hell of a Saturn’s Return I actually began to believe I was “cursed” I began to believe that anyone that I loved would die I was right But the difference was I somehow thought their relationship to me was the reason for their death Ultimately life was the reason for their death I personally do not possess that amount of power That type of self deprecating responsibility is no good to me or anyone else I would then go on to participate in extreme sports I lost many friends, guides, and coaches to paragliding, base jumping, snowboarding and other extreme paths I no longer believed in a “God” but I did believe in nature Truth Oneness Universal Consciousness What did all of this do for me? I now reflect back in a very different state With a very different relationship to death With how much of a blessing many of these experiences were for my relationship to life I was curious Fearless in many senses Driven Ambitious Life seemed limited in time But expansive in experience I wanted to do it all and I didn’t know how much time I had So I didn’t want to waste a moment I have lived a fast life I have done a lot I have seen many things I have faced many extremes that many turn away from Fast forward to this year Death visited in a new way In early March Many signs, dreams and visions gave me the very embodied belief That my literal death was near My dreams, my visions and signs have mostly served me throughout my life to be taken seriously So I did I felt either I was going crazy or I was being given the opportunity to prepare For grace To prepare myself to say goodbye My very fast life My very fast way of thinking My very fast decisions Began to slow town tremendously I met my fear I met my deep desire to know the unknown I met my deep desire to control the uncontrollable Sound became more clamorous Lights became more acute My sensitivity became undeniable and I began to isolate The experience Came like lightning There were no precursors and it came to me in the middle of Japanese winter and I sat with it and I told myself, you can hold this You can be with this You can meet your fear here You can meet your resistance I felt a deep weight begin to cloak me I began to feel a tightness in my chest that was new to me My breath became more challenging to direct What had been so important before Became so small I felt like I was holding the weight of death in my entire being I was holding the weight of the speechlessness of the topic In my mind and My heart was grieving the process over and over and over again For myself and everyone that I loved I was holding what is not mine to hold I have no business or right Holding this amount of fear I cannot escape death and no one that I love can escape death All my heart breaks and aches All my history The trauma The to do lists The never did Or never was None of it seemed to matter I had a choice and still do To take the nihilistic road That nothing matters Everything is made up of nothing and in the end we will be nothing or I could take the evolutionary road That everything is unknown That all is mystery That it is true nothing matters and most of all Everything is made up and I could feel the magic of that I could appreciate the beauty in all moments All conversations All paradoxes All acceptances All rejections ALL OF IT A COMPLETE FUC*&ING BLESSING We have created a world of deep comfort So as not to see the reality of our experience and the nature of life Life is in fact the art of dying This year I traveled to India to sit in silence and learn about death and dying I sat with a buddhist nun who has been helping people transition from this life to the next They die Young Old Healthy Unhealthy Tragic Peaceful Spontaneously Knowingly I began to realize just how deeply I feared death For the pure fact that I cannot know it Until it comes to me I cannot study my way into it or plan it I cannot know the unknowable until it shows itself to me I realized that possibly in all my “fearless” attempts of living I was trying to convince myself that I was invincible I am not invincible I am not special or unique in the topic of death I like every other human being will live Love Lose and leave everything behind This body that I have cared so deeply for is not mine to keep This breath will feed me until life’s larger plan uses the energy for new life My body will return back to organic nature and the echo of Echo will become a memory At first this felt incredibly challenging to hold Intellectually we are all aware that we will die But it is rarer to meet individuals that have fully embodied their last breaths Through contemplation Curiosity and dying before they die So how did I deal with the anxiety of existential dread? How did I deal with the grief of complete and total surrender How did I acknowledge my lack of control? I am still grieving I am still breathing deeply and sitting stilly Time has slowed down Everything has become nothing and nothing has become everything I see the fork in the road I can be a victim to the reality of life I can hide from the inevitable and I can throw myself into routine and distraction They will lead me away from the larger existential investigations of my reality and ours or I can let go and realize There is nothing to “solve” To help To aid I can be allies with Death I can come to know it I can have deeper respect for life For the sacred nature of living And for the personhood of each individuals own choice in how they use their time So this is where I am left Death has made itself known to me In a unknown way It sits with me in my wakeful state It visits me in my dreams and as my ego has turned down the flame It is not so frightening It is quiet peaceful to sit with It seems to make everything around it more Radiant Alive Loving and special The closer death seems to be The more special each moment becomes What it is teaching me Is that in my acceptance of it Life becomes more precious I hear more I see more I feel more and I realize it isn’t really death that I fear It’s life Fully choosing to live To love To accept the unknown I have been afraid of life for far too long I am learning to be a better ally to myself By understanding the full spectrum of the human life and welcoming in the comfortable parts as well as the uncomfortable So I am a death doula in training I am dedicating more of my life to working with plant/animal medicines that induce states of death and dying to face fear of death before dying Seems death is making herself known in a new way All those early exposures to death All of that loss Has given me deep insight and compassion For my own fear of death For others fear of death and it is a privilege to be on a journey That leads to creating more spaciousness in people's lives To find grace before they depart In facing their fears with dignity and wakefulness I have learned I cannot do life alone We are not meant to All that fear I felt All of that grieving All of that stuck emotion Rawness Anxiety That is not mine to hold alone I offer myself to something higher than my individual expression Nature Truth The godhead So be it I ask for more assistance and guidance In holding space for what is so deeply feared But is so deeply human Life and death Are one in the same May we find places to speak about these topics in a more spacious way May I find more spaciousness in myself To be with my fear when it arises This year has not been an easy one But it has been deep Deep Deep Deep and the tides are still churning
If you are curious about exploring more the topic of death, your resistance to it or fear of it. I will be hosting a monthly online Death Cafe the last Tuesday of each month. It is a thing. Death Cafes. They are worldwide. Just for this purpose.
This space is not about ruminating on the fear of death, or cycling back and forth with the unacceptance of it.
It is a place to talk openly about fears so as to release the power they have over us. Please feel free to attend and share your own fears, vulnerabilities and questions around the topic of death. These are non format spaces where I will hold questions and direct conversation but they are free to everyone and space for all perspectives. They are donation based cafes with all donations funnelling back into space creation for more containers to dive deeper into these subjects. Feel free to give what feels right for you. Sign up to receive notifications monthly of our virtual cafe.