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Death and Dying

Do I think about death? Definitely. Probably more than I care to admit. It doesn’t consume me, but I think about it often.

I cannot remember my first Death memory. I have always loved halloween, scary movies, and of course, skulls. When I was about ten my Aunt Pam took me to her nursing college classes and I was given a sheep brain to play with and I got to see my first real skeleton. As a teenager I would frequently sneak out to the living room during the night to watch Tales from the Crypt. I also found it fascinating to dissect a pig in high school. And when I thought I might be a nurse, I was lucky enough to study a cadaver (a preserved body for study).

Death was never something I remember worrying about as a young kid. Sure, I definitely was scared when I watched Aliens at nine years of age, but it was less about death and more about big scary monsters.

It was never a looming cloud until I saw people around me die. Losing my step-brother was the first time I had someone close to me die. I was seventeen. After that, it seemed a quick succession of other close family members. I had gone to maybe four funerals within a year after my brother’s death.

It definitely shook me.
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I am scared of death and dying. Though I have had many thoughts about death as a way to escape my pain. I am sure I am not alone in having these thoughts. Not to worry, I hope to remain around a little while yet. Thoughts of dying are a little more terrifying to me then death. It is the journey to the unknown that is hard, sad, and painful.

What I  like about death is that it shows no bias. Young or old, rich or poor and no matter the color. It doesn’t matter if you are a zen master or a politician. Death is accepting of all things living. I wish I was more accepting of it. It just seems so final.

But is Death final?

Must Die
Death in Tarot means change. It signifies that a season of life is ending and soon you will transform into a new one. Much like the mythical Phoenix bird that dies then rises from its ashes. Death is the past from which you can only move forward. Change is inevitable. If you run from it, it finds you, like Death.

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Death in this sense has been knocking at my door. I am looking out the window to see what it is selling, but I am not sure if I am ready to hear its sales pitch. During our monthly Women’s Circles we each express one word that currently resonates in our lives. My word is Change. It did not occur to me until writing this piece that my thoughts on Death has a lot to do with my fear of Change.

Dying is the New Life
I have been reading Tom Robbin’s Even Cowgirls Get The Blues. Tom Robbins is quite existential and whimsical. There are moments in this book that grabbed me and held tight. One of those moments is part IV section 65.

He writes, “Most of the harm inflicted by man upon his environment, his fellows and himself is due to greed.
Most of the greed (whether it be for power, property, attention, or affection) is due to insecurity.
Most of the insecurity is due to fear.
And most of the fear is, at bottom, a fear of death.
Given time, all things are possible. But time may have a stop. Why do people fear death so? Because they realize, unconsciously at least, that their lives are mere parodies of what living should be” (Robbins 203).

Later he writes, “To live fully, one must be free, but to be free one must give up security. Therefore, to live one must be ready to die”(206).

Currently I have been experiencing a lot transformative moments in my life. I know more are coming. I understand these cycles are indicating a death and rebirth. I understand that life is about experiences that begin and end over and over. But I am scared.

I am scared parts of me are dying.
I am scared of change.
I am scared of the unknown.
I am scared to say good-bye.

What Tom Robbins wrote about greed, insecurity, fear, death, and time reverberated my soul. The fact that we can be so scared to let go, we cannot truly be free. We are so scared of change that we will stay in the same stalemates because we are scared that death is a finality. Sometimes, we have to take that risk, especially if it pounding at our doors. Death in my opinion is transformation. Albert Einstein’s law of thermodynamics sums it up saying, “Energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be changed from one form to another.”

I keep hearing if you don’t make decisions for yourself, the Universe pushes you into them.
“I just need a little more time, Universe.” 
I am deciding that death can be a beautiful transformative part of life. This does not mean I am immune to my fears. I am just starting to see it as new beginnings.

~Dorothy Verbick

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