One of the spiritual dynamics of death that is hard to describe in daily, polite conversation is the continued love, presence and spirit of the loved one if we’re willing to acknowledge them and our inner lives. My latest essay for Open to Hope posted October 10 speaks to this interior journey, it is linked to their site here: Ask, Seek, Knock…Loudly
“The purple one is for me. Mack’s is green.”
“I don’t think he’ll argue with you,” I said.
“Well, not this time,” she said.
If you know someone who is recently bereaved don’t be afraid to mention their loved one by name. It is cool water to the thirsty. To speak their name is to honor their lives and importance to all of us! I’m sure 21 months ago I was just as hesitant and unwilling to speak to people of their loss in fear of offending or hurting them. But, do not fear.
Elisabeth Kubler-Ross wrote of this cultural fear in “Death: The Final Stage of Growth” in 1975:
“Dying is an integral part of life, as natural and predictable as being born. But whereas birth is cause for celebration, death has become a dreaded and unspeakable issue to be avoided by every means possible in our modern society. Perhaps it is that in spite of all our technological advances. We may be able to delay it, but we cannot escape it. We, no less than other, non-rational animals, are destined to die at the end of our lives. And death strikes indiscriminately – it cares not at all for the status or position of the ones it chooses; everyone must die, whether rich or poor, famous or unknown. Even good deeds will not exclude their doers from the sentence of death; the good die as often as the bad. It is perhaps this inevitable and unpredictable quality that makes death so frightening to many people. Especially those who put a high value on being in control of their own existence are offended by the thought that they too are subject to the forces of death.”
Mack’s outrageously fast and random death will never be right. How, then, do we learn to live newly honoring Mack and one another?
I think Thornton Wilder’s sentiments from “The Bridge of San Luis Ray” in 1927 sums it up well:
There is a land of the living and a land of the dead and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning.