“Sorrow prepares you for joy. It violently sweeps everything out of your house, so that new joy can find space to enter. It shakes the yellow leaves from the bough of your heart, so that fresh, green leaves can grow in their place. It pulls up the rotten roots, so that new roots hidden beneath have room to grow. Whatever sorrow shakes from your heart, far better things will take their place.” ~ Rumi
My dear Aunt Nila died on Saturday. I wasn’t able to be with her in her last days, which makes me sad. However, my mother was with her, the sister she shared a bed with. She could be extremely sad, but she’s not. She told me that her sister was surrounded by so much love that she was happy to share in a most beautiful experience. In fact, I could feel the love when I sent Reiki after hearing that my Aunt had collapsed and was in a coma. Not only was my Aunt surrounded by family, many friends came to say their goodbyes as well. That’s how I want to go, surrounded by love.
My Aunt Nila was a fierce and loyal friend. She was funny and gregarious. I wouldn’t say she was a great cook or housekeeper, but that didn’t matter to those she who knew her. She had an open heart and was willing to help anyone in need. People loved her because she accepted them without judgment. My Aunt Nila left the world a better place in which to live and that’s the best epitaph anyone can have.
While I was thinking about this post not only contemplating what to write about my Aunt’s life, but what to write about death in general, I realized that I’ve done a great deal of thinking about death and the meaning of life in the past few years. In fact, that’s one of the themes of The Space Between Time, the novel I’m writing. One of my readers said it was a dark book, but I don’t see it that way. We all ask the question, what is the purpose of living in this human form and then leaving it? Granted the death of a loved one can be a sorrowful experience, but I believe every experience we have, gives us an opportunity for deeper understanding about ourselves and our purpose for being here.
It’s true most of us don’t like to think or talk about death. Beyond this earthly life is the unknown, and that’s really scary for most people. I’ve had a chance to observe three or four people during their death process and there is something so beautiful about embracing what comes after leaving this earthly body. It’s sad when the process is filled with fear. My father’s death process was one that had a big impact on me. We talked quite a bit about what he’d learned during his lifetime that helped him approach his death without the anxiety many people feel. He believed that death is just a kind of portal to another chapter in our lives.
I know my father was right. It’s hard to explain how I know this, it’s really just a feeling because I’ve never had a near death experience, but I think that when our physical bodies die, we’re set free. I don’t know the full meaning of why we’re here on earth or that of our bigger lives after we leave it. But it feels to me like there is a plan for this living and dying thing that we go through. It’s just that when we’re in our dense human bodies it’s difficult to understand the bigger picture.
Just because I feel that there is life after death, doesn’t mean I don’t mourn my loved ones when they die. I miss talking to them, and in my Aunt’s case, I won’t get to see her one last time to say goodbye. That makes me weep, but I’m weeping for myself and the lost moments with my Aunt Nila that I failed to gather. And yet, she’s not gone. The love we felt for each other still lives on. That gives me comfort and hope.
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Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015