Fear of Death

IMG_0656“Death undoes us less, sometimes, than the hope that it will never come.” Pico Iyer

I’m thinking about death because we are once again facing the reality: a friend’s child has died in a climbing accident.

My heart aches for the family of this young man. Because of social media I have been touched by a photograph of his grandparents waiting by the phone. I’ve read the comments of his friends from around the globe. I’ve communicated, personally, with the young man’s parents and siblings and know that they are struggling to cope.

I am amazed at how soon I have made this about me. My fear of a personal loss took my breath away and shoved my compassion to the side.

I quickly internalized the loss and contacted my granddaughter.  Because she is in the same age bracket and lives a similar lifestyle of wilderness adventure and physical challenge, she was immediately on my mind.  “Be careful,” I warned.

Death is a part of life. We all know this. It is a truism and a pat response to loss. It is not, however, an easy part of life. We have all faced some loss and know that in varying degrees it changes us.

Fear of death is worse, though, don’t you think?

I don’t fear my own death. I spend my fear shoving away the possibility of losing those I love the most. At times this possibility cripples me with dread.  And for what?

Did the text to my granddaughter really save her as she ventured into the woods? Did it make her more mindful? Or did it only serve to limit her joy?

And the parents of the young man – is their sorrow now more painful than their fear during their search for him? Their waiting and wondering? Will their acceptance of reality be more difficult than their imaginings?  I don’t know their answers.

However, I have lived through the death of precious family members and friends – one moment at a time. Some moments were full of pain. Some were filled with sweet memories. None were filled with fear. Death is not unbearable. It is the fear of death…

The Student

 

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Asking Myself…

P1010592.JPG“I want to sing like the birds sing, not worrying about who hears or what they think.”
― Rumi

I have no fear of dying. This has been my assertion since 2007. I have discovered that it is partially true.

What comes after death does not concern me. Whether I term it eternity in the Christian sense or regard death as another phase in my soul’s journey, I am at peace with it. Do I believe in reincarnation? Well, I don’t disbelieve. Do I believe in heaven? Maybe, maybe not. This is not a puzzle for me that needs an answer.

However, as I let my thoughts turn inward and reflect another truth, I recognize that I fear not being here. Not because of any worry about the other side, but because of what I may or may not leave behind. My ego steps up and cries out for assurance. Will you think kindly of me? Have I done my life’s work? Is my life contract ready to be stamped with a sign of approval?

This discovery about myself is going to take some more thought. I need to pour it out, scatter it around and reassemble it in ways that I understand before I let it slip through my fingers.

The Student

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Filed under Rumi, Self-Acceptance Project, The False Power of Ego

Being Heard

“I don’t need a cloak to become invisible,” Dumbledore,  in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,  J.K. Rowling

I hate not to be heard. I feel invalidated. The anger that rises within me is out of proportion to the situation. Why?

Without finding an answer I can still reach equilibrium.

I can know that I am loved by myself and others. I can understand that others’ distance, disinterest or deafness is not a personal affront to me. Even when it is directed toward me it rarely comes from ill-intent or lack of love.

The first thing I must do for myself is understand that I have what I need within me. That if necessary I can pour my love and connection into a vacuum and still be a whole person. I cannot be diminished by others or by their actions.

Then I want to examine myself and my own behavior. I must sometimes be guilty of the same behavior that I rebel against. Do I always listen? Do I always hear? Am I paying attention? Am I present?

Still time enough to explore the sore spots that feel re-injured when my voice doesn’t carry.

The Student

 

 

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