"The problem is, death keeps looking at us." T.E. Holt, M.D. - from an article in Men's Health
An old friend, approaching her seventieth birthday, shared with me that the older she gets, the more she fears death. I feel the opposite.
Perhaps, our anxiety comes from the common definition of the odd, fear-laden word we don't like to mention. Death is routinely described as the cessation of all biologic functions.If we are living a comfortable life, if we believe that we are only our biology than fading is frightening. Life is all we know.
So we look away from death even though "death keeps looking at us."
"We give death power precisely to the extent that we work to ignore it, to blind ourselves to its closeness, to imagine we have the power to stave it off forever," Dr. Holt writes. "If we go through life imagining that, then the moment when we are forced to look at death can only rupture everything we know and paralyze us, still alive. That's not a good way to die."
What is a good way to die - to live life as we head inexorably toward its end? After all, time is a trick. We can't find ourselves in such an illusion.
The children of wisdom are acceptance and gratitude.
One way to birth these hard-to-raise children is to know that we are more than our biology. The big remaining question is the nature of our non-body consciousness.
Knowing the other consciousness is coming the dying can reach acceptance. As caregivers like Dr. Holt know, the moment fear leaves a terminally ill patient the angel of grace arrives.
Of course, we are all "terminally" ill. No one gets out of this world alive. Indeed, the cause of death is life.
In surrender, the terminally ill accept what we deny. Their grace can hand us a rich gift. Instead, most of us turn away.
It is so hard to accept life's most obvious truth: we have this moment and no other. We can be at peace in this now only if we know that our consciousness will find another way to express itself when the heart stops and the breath quiets.
Only a fool (or perhaps someone very courageous) fights absolute certainty. We can free ourselves from our fear of death - a challenge always easy to describe and hard to live.
This process begins when we find the courage to look at death with what another friend of mine calls "the steady gaze." When we do, we will discover that the only thing death can take is our body, something that may be less important than we imagined.
Love's energy, unburdened by our weight, can then embrace us completely opening a whole new way of being, a consciousness that encompasses both this life and life beyond.
Isn't that heaven?