What’s Really Important?

Tarantula Nebula

“We do not know where death awaits us: so let us wait for it everywhere. To practice death is to practice freedom. A man who has learned how to die has unlearned how to be a slave.” ~ Michel de Montaigne

I have a game of the imagination I’ve played since I was a child that, for the most part, I’ve kept secret. What is it like to die? What comes after? And what is important to our spirit in the afterlife?

I’m not sure what made me begin playing this game. It may have been going to see Bambi at a young age. Bambi’s mother’s death was quite a blow. Or maybe it was when my paternal grandfather died the October after our summer visit when I was nine.

When my grandfather died, somehow I didn’t feel he was gone. It’s like he was hovering around me. And finally he revealed himself when I was going through some tough times in my twenties. I realized I’d been right. His loving spirit had been with me since his passing.

I’ve been with a few people through their dying process and what is important to them has nothing to do with the possessions or status they are going to leave behind. It’s all about their family relationships and the lessons they’ve learned or left unfinished.

I’ve rarely shared my contemplations on death. If I’d talked about them openly, people would have suggested I go see a psychiatrist. But I knew I wasn’t crazy.

Death is a part of life, but most of us don’t want to think about our own deaths. It’s hard enough to contemplate the deaths of loved ones. So we push death away. It’s dark and scary. We can’t see what’s on the other side and most of us have a hard time living with the uncertainty of that fact.

I kept practicing death through the stories I watched and read. When a key character died, I’d think about what they left behind. Was it good or bad? Did their death affect a change for the better? Two stories I read early in life that touched me in this regard were A Tale of Two Cities, and The Crucible. Sometimes choosing to die is the only way to wake people up or bring about a much needed change.

A few years ago I read the book Broken Open by Elizabeth Lesser, the founder of The Omega Institute. The book’s subtitle is, How Difficult Times Can Help us Grow. For some reason I remembered this book a few days ago and in particular the chapter “Practicing Death”.

Lesser has developed a role-play game and meditation where people imagine their own death. When I read the book, I decided to try imagining my death. I mean after all, I’d been contemplating death for a long time. But I had never imagined what life after my death would be like. It was a profound experience.

When I sank into the stillness, I imagined that I had died and an amazing thing happened to me. All the things I had been worrying about and holding onto fell away. I was dead. I didn’t need those earthly cares anymore. It was a most exhilarating and freeing feeling. None of the stuff I’d been holding onto was of ultimate importance.

What was important was who I chose to be, the relationships I chose to nurture, the love and care I shared, and the lessons I chose to learn, or not. I had free will. I could resist life’s lessons and live in the dark. But if I chose that, the after life would be filled with learning and healing all the things I’d refused to do during my life on Earth. It was my choice.

Another interesting thing happened. It didn’t really matter which path I chose, because I’d be going back to pure love. And what I’d done here on Earth was all part of a huge tapestry of knowledge being collected. Still, I did choose to seek out the light in this incarnation, rather than the darkness.

Lesser writes about the above quote by Michel de Montaigne, “He means that we can practice death by becoming conscious of the ways in which we resist life; we can practice death by approaching endings and partings and changes with more ease and faith.”

We’re in a time of endings, partings, and huge changes. Maybe practicing death means to examine what is most important to us. What do we want to keep, what can we let go of, and what can we create anew?

I’d be interested to hear what you think is of ultimate importance. Please feel free to share in the comments below.

Thanks for reading, liking, commenting, and sharing my posts. I appreciate it.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2020

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards.

Have you ever experienced life shattering events? Yeah, most of us have. In The Space Between Time, Jenna Holden gets slammed by her fiancé walking out, her mother’s untimely death, and losing her job all in one week. But she receives unexpected help when she finds her three-times great-grandmother’s journals and begins the adventure of a lifetime.

The Space Between Time is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords and for Kindle at Amazon, or you can find the ebook at iBooks or Barnes and Noble. If you prefer a physical copy, you can find a print-on-demand version at Amazon. Stay tuned for news when the audiobook version is published.

On Death and Life

Butterfly Close up“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.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment, or share with a friend.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015