This week an acquaintance died. Six months ago I had advocated for this person and while that was and is a good thing, it did make some people angry. You see, I challenged them to step outside their comfort zone and help me. Some did; many did not. Two months ago this person finally got what was needed and upon her soul’s passing this week, I know it was worth it.
Today, May 4th, is known as Star Wars Day, trading on the famous quote from the movies, “May the Force be with you”, today rephrased as “May the Fourth be with you”. It is a humorous play on words and yet, it is a great saying to share with someone. Inviting them to recognize and acknowledge the life forces within and around us as well as celebrating each day we are alive.
This blog has been silent for several days due to the shooting at UNCC. Someone told me it was a shame this was all happening during the Easter season and yet…. Easter itself is all about death.
“Death where is thy sting? O grave, why is thy victory?” It might very well be that the best time for death is during Easter because Easter is a story about victory over death and helps us overcome the pain and sting of losing someone. Grief is inevitable and we need to honor the grieving process as the homage it is for the life that was lived and now has ceased. All too often, we try to pretend all is well instead of allowing someone to mourn.
In a world where very little is certain and where sorting truth from fiction has become an endless maze, death is the one certainty we have. We may not know exactly when or how we will die and for many of our, it will be out of our control but we can be certain that at some point in time, we will die. It is the culmination of being alive.
Dr. Steve Taylor wrote the following about our own mortality for Psychology Today four years ago: “We all have to face it at some point; an event of such enormity that it can make everything else in our lives seem insignificant: death, the end of our existence; our departure from this world….We live in a culture that denies death. We’re taught that death is something we should shy away from, and try to forget about. If we start contemplating our own mortality – so this traditional wisdom goes – we’ll become anxious and depressed.”
Taylor maintains that a healthy relationship and conversation about death can actually do just the opposite. Why do we fear death? Taylor explains that “To a large extent, it depends on the intensity of the encounter with our mortality. Anxiety usually occurs when we’re passively aware of death, thinking about it in a vague way rather than actually facing up to it. There’s certainly an important difference between being aware of death as a concept and being confronted with the reality of it, and being forced to deal with it as an imminent prospect. When we face up to death actively and directly, there’s a chance that we’ll transcend anxiety and insecurity, and experience its transformational potential.”
Taylor continues: “An attitude of acceptance is important too. If we resist death, fight against its inevitability, refuse to let go of our lives, and feel bitterness about all the things that we’re going to lose and leave behind – then we’re much less likely to experience the potentially positive effects.”
In other words, once we accept our own mortality, we can turn that acceptance into a force that will help us live fuller lives. “Death is always present, and its transformational power is always accessible to us, so long as we’re courageous enough to face it. Becoming aware of our own mortality can be a liberating and awakening experience, which can – paradoxically, it might seem – encourage us to live authentically and fully for the first time.”
So on this day, as I prepare to attend yet another funeral and say goodbye to one more soul, I will use the force of my mortality to become stronger. The celebration of the Easter season answers the question about victory over the grave. The real victory is in living to the best of our ability with kindness and health towards all.