By Laura Castanza and Julia George ©2015
As natural as the cessation of the physical body is, death is a difficult subject to address, surfacing strong feelings and memories we either acknowledge or deny. Human emotions are powerful and it is rare we perceive death as the normal and frequent cycle evident in everyday living. We experience life and death in the course of each day, with beginnings and endings in everything we do, and in every breath we take until the final exhale. How well we accept this cycle from the seemingly routine and predictable to the abrupt and intensely personal, affects our ability to live peacefully.
Life is ever changing, requiring us to adapt and participate with the natural forces at work as we evolve. What appears to be an end is also a beginning; in between are a multitude of paths/choices that contribute to each outcome/end. Facing our terminal existence before manifesting a life threat frees us from unrealistic burdens making every moment matter.
The process of a beginning, middle, and end repeatedly transforms each moment in subtle or obvious ways. Our own human journey begins with our entry into this world, goes through stages of physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual changes throughout our life (middle), and then terminates in death. The feelings associated with each phase vacillate between fear and love, but death is most feared.
Death is frequently associated with the loss of a loved one, but can also signify the loss of a job/career, objects/things, the ending of a relationship, or simply the end of a day. When experiencing death, the living face uncertainty, doubt, and mortality issues while questioning faith and responsibility especially when loss is sudden, tragic, and/or self inflicted. The finality of loss reinforces the lack of control we have in life that our human conditioning denies. As a result, we cling onto our loved ones and things to give us a (false) feeling of control, closeness, and security.
The truth is we only have control of our self through our awareness of what is happening in each moment; and if we become attached, we will experience a tremendous amount of suffering. Since we mostly perceive death and loss as a dreadful experience; how can we alleviate suffering in this context?
Our connection with the divine, God, Universe, etc., is critical to ease our suffering. Attributing an evolutionary significance to each situation and outcome (positive and negative) reestablishes faith and a sense of control when we are intensely emotional in any situation. When experiencing death, of a person or pet, a long-time career, or significant relationship… it is difficult to maintain our center of joy and faith that is innate in all of us. It is not uncommon to feel hopeless, depressed, and angered by a deeply personal event, or the atrocities that occur every day on our planet.
It is important to look at the big picture, from a spiritual perspective, in order to make sense of it all. Everyone has a story, a karma, and purpose that we are not fully aware. As each human has a unique finger print, and our personal stories vary slightly or dramatically to test our fortitude in life. However tragic a death, it serves as an experience and opportunity for the living.
Spiritual lessons and significance are ever present. When death arrives (and it’s not us), it is time to stop and reflect. Powerful emotions are guaranteed during this time if we choose to observe what is happening instead of denying or distracting our self from the inevitable pain. Even in an aware state there is pain, but it progresses more quickly when we invite healing.
During the five (5) stages of loss (Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression/Sadness, and Acceptance), the order in which we process varies as each stage can intersect and revert to another…. Meaning, we can accept what has happened AND experience a level of disbelief/denial; sadness suddenly becomes fury/anger, and then we fall into sadness once again. The more we connect to our spiritual nature, the less confusion we experience within our emotional body. As we evolve, the 5 stages become 3 as we accept, grieve, and let go.
Acceptance is a primary step towards healing the termination of any situation. If we do not accept what’s happened, we are resisting and prolong pain and suffering. Pain is part of the human experience, and in reference to death, we call it “grieving”.
Grieving is the process we often ignore because of the pain involved, yet we can never escape it. Here we experience intense emotions: sadness, anger, joy, disbelief…etc. These emotions are not always expressed in the context of the death that has occurred. Anger, for instance, can manifest in our work life, if we have experienced the death of a loved one at home. Any issues that exist within our personal landscape become more profound; so if there exists a moderate amount of anger before the death, it will magnify.
Most of us access our favorite addictions in order to avoid feeling grief. Our addictions can be substances (drugs, alcohol, and food) or processes (work, sex, gambling, as well as acting out behaviors like rescuing, martyrdom, codependency). It is said that “we can’t cheat death”, and the same holds true for grief. Grief is death for the living and must be respected in terms of the time it takes; it too is cyclical, symbolic, and natural…and will end. Ready or not, it forces us to let go!
Letting go is when we fully release our control and attachment to finality. As living beings, we are not adept at letting go. We stay in negative relationships too long, mundane jobs, and keep other beings alive too long, all to satisfy our shadow side. If we can identify our motives in preserving that which is dying, we can liberate our self from repeated patterns of pain. We can also prepare our self for the cessation of all things in our spiritual practice, prior to the time when things are obviously ending. This helps us develop a healthy level of detachment, expediting the trauma and drama that often occurs with the experience of death.
Human evolution has made great strides in keeping us alive longer, while pension/retirement plans entice us to remain at a career/job long term. Trading quality of life for quantity is not likely to enhance our experience in living. There are exceptions, and embracing death through the multitude of daily examples will ease our soul through these necessary transitions.
The most important consideration in processing death is to look at our own creation in the present moment and ask our self; is the relationship with our mate, family, friends, and the world at large healthy and harmonious? Are we content and fulfilled in our career and daily life? Are there unresolved issues/conflicts or lack of closure in any part of our life?
Identifying the truth about our life in the moment, gives us an opportunity to assess our current situations. Even though reincarnation is possible, now is the time to clean up any messes and organize that which we will leave behind (children and/or pets) so we can free our soul.
It is important to connect with others spiritually and engage a support system here on Earth, also known as friends or soulmates!
We evolve through remembering we came in with nothing, that we will leave the same way, and there is internal work to be done while we are here. Greater awareness is the death of our ego control and the birth of our spirit. Living in gratitude, paired with contentment of our creation, allows us to experience the ultimate life in each moment and as with all things, “this too shall pass”.
For more information or to discuss this topic, contact Julia George / AquarianAge at 561.750.9292