My Life Has Been About Death

Like a true Irish daughter, I am drawn to obituary notices and visiting graveyards. Even on vacation, I am at home with morbid melancholy.

At last count (Feb. 2011), 53 people who I’ve known personally have died, 13 of whom were close family members. And that doesn’t even include the demise of 12 beloved pets that were like siblings to me. I had attended 14 funerals by the time I was 18, most significantly, my own father’s when I was 8. And I don’t even live in a war zone. I’m going to another such gathering this weekend, a celebration of a dear friend’s life, the matriarch of a family I have known since birth. Her husband was my Dad’s best friend. As more and more people leave that had known my Dad, and who were of “the Greatest Generation,” I feel an end of an era approaching.

  1. Death has helped shape my life. How could it not? Pain, grief and loss is something I understand well. Death is why I treasure life even more, and it’s how I know what’s really important, for me.
  2. Death is a dreaded wake-up call, necessary, though unpleasant to say the least. I am not a morning person, I am a mourning person, and sometimes I’d rather just stay in dreamland, asleep.
  3. But the biggest part of life is waking up to death. It is about coming to terms with that part of us, and everything, that is mortal and impermanent. It is about helping us to focus on what is immortal and permanent. That common denominator is Love. And I am grateful for it.

I know and respect that everyone’s path is different, but for me, a life wrought with death has caused me to seek answers. It has made me a person focused on finding what I feel is life’s true meaning, and purpose.

“Saints come into this world by the grace and mercy of the Lord. They do not come to make it a better place, nor to improve its lot, but to free us from our bonds of attachment, and turn our attention towards the Father. They come to make us blind to this world and give us the sight to see the Lord.” ~ Indian Mystic and Spiritual Teacher, Maharaj Charan Singh Ji (1916 -1990)

This strategy has worked on me :)… For in my case, I know, and believe it to be so…There is so much more than this finite level of existence. Our birth, and death, here is the start of a journey, not a destination. We just have to ‘go towards the Light’ in our quest for eternal brilliance. Sometimes we feel the electricity has gone out, leaving us to grope around in the darkness. With bumps and bruises, it can be a rocky road. But somehow, the good bits, the joy, the love, the glimpses of things to come, encourage us to continue doing our Home-work and press on.

Being a student in the School of Life, I fully appreciate all of the lessons and all of the teachers that bring me closer to graduation day. Though I’d really prefer to healthfully drag things out and graduate with the Class of 2065! 🙂

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12 Responses to My Life Has Been About Death

  1. Renee says:

    Beautiful, Maggie. I have always felt that the passing of others – loved one’s or even people I don’t know personally – teaches us about life. To this day, I recall attending the death of a classmate when I was 12. Jimmy Ambrose comes to the forefront of my mind sometimes. I think about ALL the life and experiences I have had that he never got to experience – because he was just 12 when he died. EACH DAY is a gift.
    You are an eloquent writer, Maggie! I enjoy your posts.

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    • Thank you Renee for the comment and the sharing. I too went to the funeral of a 16 yr old when I was a freshman, death of contemporaries or younger are especially difficult. And, yes it’s the “comings and the goings” that really stay with you, even if as you say, when it’s not someone you know personally. The deaths of many public figures have been just as hard. We still have developed a relationship and attachment.

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  2. Christina says:

    You have such a beautiful way of weaving words and sentences together, Maggie. It was really fun to read what you had to say about life and how it includes death. Not something we humans talk about much… as if, ‘it doesn’t happen to me’ (o:

    I remember when my grandfather died. I was tiny, 6 or 8-ish or so. And I heard the priest say that he would come back, so I couldn’t understand why everybody around me were so sad. Then as time passed I realized that the priest had ‘lied’ (o: My grandfather never showed up, like I thought the priest said he would. So when my grandmother died I ‘knew better’, and it was really sad because I had not been given a good explanation for what that ‘lying’ priest had meant.

    Now, almost 50 years later it just seems cute to remember myself as an innocent child. But maybe it set the stage for the rest of my life in regards to death!?? Or in regards to priests and religion… They say stuff, but check if it’s ‘true for you’ before you eat it up. My own truth and search for it is easier to take than to gobble up what’s said by others or by tradition. I want my own clarity, not other people filling it in for me. So I’m grateful for that early experience that taught me to question what I hear no matter where it’s coming from, in search of my own truth.

    Stina

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  3. Stina, ditto! I would’ve never guessed English was your second language! You brought up an important point, question authority! So much of what we thought and felt as children was so “right on” in its innocence. I appreciate you sharing your story. What adults tell us, or rather don’t tell us, can be very confusing, not to mention feeling the betrayal when we come to find out that they have “lied” to us. This topic reminds me of a funny story. I was at a funeral, standing next to the 5 year old great-grandchild of the deceased when I overheard her saying, “If Nonna is in heaven, then who’s the fake lady in the box?!” A classic line, from the mouth of babes…

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  4. souldipper says:

    After a near death experience and after listening to people who have died and come back, I see death merely as a doorway to freedom. Everything that people report is phenomenally joyful and full of love. I believe them!

    If you haven’t watched this medical lawyer, you may appreciate her: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DFDI-jgFVqs&feature=related

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    • I’m with you Amy, though I myself haven’t had a “near death experience”, I know people who have. All of them, along with “realized Souls” who’ve managed to “die while living” more or less concur with that feeling of Love, Light and Bliss, and not wanting to return to the “mortal coil”. I believe all of you. Have you “blogged” already about your NDE, as I’d be interested to know more about your experience. Thank you also for posting the YouTube video. I started watching it, but my phone wouldn’t let me see the rest. I’m looking forward to viewing it in it’s entirety when I get to the office next.

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  5. Donna Doncaster says:

    Very lovely Maggie. I concur with the above posts. Keep writing.
    Donna

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  6. Thank you Donna! How nice to see you here. 🙂
    Take Care, enjoy New Orleans.

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  7. I don’t know if this will work, but I think I am successfully posting this link to Carl Jung addressing the topic of death:

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  8. Pingback: Memorial Day Comes to All of Us | The Spirited Soul

  9. Pingback: Death Becomes You | The Spirited Soul

  10. The count is now up to 59. The last four were real shocks to my system, close & sudden. Again, no goodbyes. I talk myself through it, but I can never accept that my loved ones are truly gone…Maybe because they’re not…but my heart still is numbed by grief & I wish to be where they are. A safe place. A dependable place. Surviving this life is how we get to the next.

    Loss taught me to seize the moment. I’m glad I married & travelled when I had the opportunity. But now, growing older, alone & starting over from scratch I’m prone to fear & jealousy, as I’ve never been! Always lessons to work through & from which to learn. Even in my current angst, as the last vestiges of my old life slip away & I want to slip with them. And with the angst of the whole world, warfare, as rich & poor become more polarized. I am so grateful & humbled for what my God has seen fit for me. I have called these last 10 years, being ‘cradled in Hell’. I know in my Spirit how lucky that makes me. Loving, Sensitive & Compassionate, I’ll always be.

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