Towards Death, Dying Wishes, “Rage in Love,” and Who Am I?
“If I go towards it (death), it’s incredible and informs my life.” “Anticipation is killing me... learning to embrace the whole thing from beginning to end…what I’ve learned, regrets, beauty, and being accountable to my friends. To go beyond who we’ve been, beyond fate.” Once I came up with these three words, “deliberate life completion,” I found freedom. Powerful statements from last week’s Café! Gratitude to all the bright embodied souls who visit our Tucson Café and share stories, struggles, and big life wisdom.
The dying wish is something of legend, of quest, a sacred trust. Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s dying wish was heard around the world and even as she lay in state in the U.S. Capitol, it was quickly dismissed by many in the halls of justice she is honored for serving. Perhaps, like the fairy tales, we need 3 wishes, one for ourselves, one for others, and one global wish, with the magical caveat that at least one wish would be realized. Which begs the question: Why wait?
Revisiting our previous conversation about not speaking ill of the dead at funerals one person added that she did not want to be lied about, that she’d want people to tell the truth. She said the best way to honor her wouldn’t be to spend time focusing on her, but rather to spend time in their own self-discovery.
On the sad marking of 200,000 lives lost to Covid-19, it would take one solid week to read every person’s name. For each person gone it is estimated that 9 are grieving which corresponds to 1.22 million people actively grieving. There are many more grieving other deaths and possibly our entire population could be suffering from some sort of chronic grief.
In response to the judgment regarding the shooting of Breonna Taylor, musician Jon Batiste said, “Rage, rage in love. We have to stand up for the values of our humanity, our life matters. More than matters, it’s Divine. We can’t ever let this become normal, it cannot become normalized.”
Several of us shared our stories of experiences in which all of us were sure - or pretty sure - we were dead. One person felt themselves on the edge of a giant chasm, apart from the stories they told themselves they were in life, and was left with this big question: “Who am I now in this moment if that’s not all I am?” Another described a state of dissolving boundaries and being absorbed into oneness beyond euphoria, that is, until the “thinking mind” reappeared and spurred panic. “Being dead” at the time was upsetting, but after another decade of life and spiritual practice her views have changed. Another person said it was like everything was okay, like a state of grace. Someone else was in her experience desperately trying to find out whether she was actually dead or not. After a brief disorientation, she had landed in an overwhelmingly beautiful, golden, blissful place, and if it was her time to leave earth, she wanted to continue on the new adventure.
Offerings this week for surviving these times; if we start to feel stress shift activities to something we can regain focus on or enjoy like art and music; jump on a bicycle; have a clean break no tech day; and, maybe not for everyone, consider that as a species we may not make it and we might feel relief in letting go of attachment to survival.
Book mentions this week were “Advice for Future Corpses (and Those Who Love Them): A Practical Perspective on Death and Dying,” Sallie Tisdale, and “The Gratitude Diaries: How a Year of Living Gratefully Changed My Life,” Janice Kaplan.
Web events of note can be found at completedlife.org and choiceanddignity.org.