My sister died on the 9th of February. Ours was an odd relationship. For years, she had been a member of a religion that prohibited her from being with people, including her family, who were not in her organization. Recently, she had begun to question those beliefs and we had several lunches of her cautiously dipping her toes in the idea of feeling free. Her death was unexpected, and in the shock of it, I felt like I was on a roller coaster, sitting in the present to examine every relationship with my beloved family and friends, then sliding into a review of every relationship of my past growing up with her, our absentee parents, and with those who deeply influenced our lives, much of which was filled with deep teary pain and tremendous gratitude.
I think the thing that finally got me off the roller coaster was remembering that Suzanne, like everyone in my life, is simply another master teacher. Teaching me that love is malleable, it bends and it twists and because we are humans and fallible, sometimes it even hurts, but when it’s real, it reaches down into my soul and grabs my heart and asks me to re-examine who I am and who I want to be. After all, in the end we only have two choices. We can be in our integrity, authentic, empowered, standing in love and staying present to the task of finding our best and highest selves… or not.
Death is such an odd thing to most people. It’s that not to be discussed topic and it is often greeted with the widening of eyes and an oh no, non-verbal expression, as if even talking about it might create the reality. For most it’s a fearful topic. I don’t fear death, albeit I am not quite there yet. I hadn’t lost anyone in a long time, so my sister’s death gave me a new perspective of the journey, the diversity and beauty of it and how it effects each of us. Part of my sister’s teaching, for me is remembering life is short, I can’t to wait too long or hold back in fear, anger or any temporary feeling that separates me from myself or another. I must be brave enough to reconnect as quickly as humanly possible and to create resolve or healing with those in my life. I tell myself, do it even if it means risking rejection, embarrassment or failure. Do it because life is short, and obviously filled with the unexpected.
At her memorial, there was almost no common feeling in the room. Everyone had a story of Suzanne, their experience and impact of her in their lives. Some were angry, sad and confused yet trying desperately to find peace and resolve. I realized that death too is a master teacher, teaching us something about ourselves. If we are the one leaving because of age or the unexpected, it requires us to ask the hard questions of how much we believe what we believe. It also asks us to look at whether we have done what we came here to do and if we are willing to finish what is still unfinished. Those of us who are older or those of us who know we may be leaving, have the great gift of time to create a sense of completion with our journey. We get to ask the question, who am I and who do I want to be, with time to be it.
The Buddhist say, “Today is a good day to die.” I love that saying because it reminds us that each day is a precious portion, a sequential gift that allows us a chance to reach a place of peace and completion. We can remind ourselves to live fully in each moment, be fully present with each person who walks with us, and to stay profoundly in our integrity so that when we are ready for the next part of our path on the other side, we can turn around, look behind us knowing we did what we came here to do in a way that echoes well done.
Everything in life and death is in service to our soul, giving us repeated opportunities to find ourselves. And, for those who wonder or might be concerned, no it doesn’t stop at death. This wonderful journey, simply begins again.
© Dr. Dina Bachelor Evan 2017. All rights reserved. No part of the intellectual property of Dr. Dina Evan may be reproduced, placed on mechanical retrieval system, transmitted in any form by electronic, video, laser, mechanical photocopy, recording means or otherwise in part or in whole, without written permission of the author. Contents are fully copyrighted and may not be owned by any other individual or organization.