Many of the people I know who are most ALIVE and JOYOUS are those who’ve lost the most. For instance, by the time she was 4, my 14 year-old daughter’s parents had divorced, her dad had been in the hospital for 6 months after he should have died, she’d moved across the country, and her dad had remarried. The “normal”, stable life Lara had known died. Yet, she’s easily one of the kindest and most spiritually healthy people I’ve ever met. Why? I think it’s because she died before she’ll die, which I think is a huge key to an amazing life.
Before I dig into the freedom of dying before you die, I’ll pause to note this is the fourth blog in a series to get us talking about death in all its forms (from losing a job to a divorce to moving to breathing your last breath, and more). While this one stands alone, you can check out the first one here: https://gracenpeaceyoga.com/2019/05/17/how-the-way-we-approach-death-is-killing-us-lets-talk-about-death-part-1/
Ironically, one of life’s constants is change, which means something old is always dying, while new things are being born. Even good changes can be scary and disorienting, while hurts and harms may traumatize us. When we’re faced with a death, especially one we didn’t choose or want, the question life asks us is: Will we become bitter or better?
Think about no longer being able to fit into a pair of pants you’ve worn for a while and quite like. This is a death. It’s the loss, even if it’s temporary, of a version of you. How would you respond?
When my daughter, Lara, died before she dies by losing the life she’d known, she was blessed. NOT that seeing her dad fall off a cliff, wondering if he was going to die, and not seeing him for months while he was in the hospital and she was in another state was a blessing, but that she had an incredibly loving family and community that showered her with love and cared for her well as she walked the valley of the shadow of death.
Dying before we die shows us what matters most in life. It frees us from being stuck in and trying to survive our culture of comparing and competing, to thrive and flourish in a community of compassion, care, and celebration! In the midst of Lara’s life falling apart, family and friends gave her the gifts of kindness, understanding, unity, and, above all, Love. They paved the path to betterment and away from bitterness for her.
With lots of help, life is a team sport after all; Lara journeyed through a number of significant deaths, and came out the other side more amazing than I ever dreamed possible. Travelling through the turmoil taught her what matters most in life, as deaths always will, when we have eyes to see. Love (the giving and receiving of our energies for thriving and flourishing) is the point. We’re here to love and be loved.
(Lara when she was 3 and 14)
Lara isn’t the only person I’ve been honored to see transform like this. Without naming names, each of my best friends has experienced great loss(es), which gave them bigger, more open, more tender, and more alive hearts. Death is one of the best teachers, in that each time we go through it we can become more free from fear, less attached to money/possessions/success, more grateful, more understanding of and compassionate toward others,
It seems to me, forgive me if I’m overstating for effect: Every death we travel through in life has the potential to free us from unnecessary weights we carry with us; whether these burdens are an attachment to wealth, looks, worries, weight, titles, possessions, prestige, power, fears, winning, losing, image, NOT dying, or anything else that hinders us from loving freely and fully. The more we die with a spirit of acceptance, then, the more we can fly, as we shed life’s unnecessary weights.
The more focused and centered on life’s essentials we become, the more joyous and peaceful freedom we experience. The lighter our loads in life, the higher we soar and brighter we shine, and journeying through death’s valley will lighten us … when we let it.
While I’d love to “say” more, I’d much rather hear your thoughts and experiences! So, I’ll wrap us up with a few words from Author Philip Simmons:
To accept death is to live with a profound sense of freedom. The freedom, first, from attachment to the things of this life that don’t really matter: fame, material possessions, and even, finally, our own bodies. Acceptance brings the freedom to live fully in the present. The freedom, finally, to act according to our highest nature.
If you’re interested, you can find the next blog in the series here: https://gracenpeaceyoga.com/2019/06/14/why-keeping-death-always-before-your-eyes-makes-life-better-lets-talk-about-death-part-5/
Grace and peace,