‘Death is just the beginning.’
These were the last words of Imhotep in the 1999 movie The Mummy, just before he died at the very end of the movie.
Why start this article with a quote from the end of a movie? Why do we think Death is the end? Why are we afraid of it so much? Why was the Holy Grail — the source of immortality so important to people? I cannot promise that I will be able to answer all these questions that no scholars could give a satisfying answer to.
However, I can promise that I’ll do my best to share what I learned about ‘Death’ in the past 12–18 months of my life. When the whole world was ‘forced’ to be put on hold. We all needed to push the reset button — many of us reevaluated their life and learned to appreciate what is really important for them in life. We cannot carry on the way we did for so long.
For me, as well, these past couple of months were some of the most challenging months in my life so far. The fact that I couldn’t see my family and I am still waiting to see them made this time even harder for me (At the moment I live in the UK and I am able to visit my family only periodically as they live in another country).
Yes, part(s) of me died, and there were times when I didn’t know what to do, which direction to go to get my old self back again. After many tearful and demanding episodes, I came to realize, that that ‘self of mine’, I so desperately wanted to have back, will never come back.
Did she die?
No. She didn’t die.
Just like a swan can’t turn back into the ugly duckling, I wasn’t able to go back to the old me. We can’t go back to how it used to be. We all need to learn how to fully embrace this new ‘Us’. The ‘Us’ that is full of dreams and hopes for this new period. The ‘Us’ that is reconnected to our purpose and found the inner strength. Often things need to get worse before they can get better.
Death is more part of our life than we realize it — whether we talk about the physical death of our body, or the death of a relationship, idea. It is a natural part of life. Death is something we all need to go through. No one can avoid it. And as we don’t know what it is like, fear is associated with it. The uncertainty, the unknown that everyone experiences but nobody knows what it is like. Death is an ending and as such all endings carry the seeds of a new beginning. But is it really us who are afraid of it? Dr Wayne Dyer used to say that we are spiritual beings having a human experience. Following this approach, Death is just part of this human experience. Our Ego ‘dies’. Our ego is our conscious mind, that actually makes us aware of the ‘self’ — what we do, what makes us feel alive.
In a Japanese manga series — Kamisama Hajimemashita (Japanese title: 神様はじめました) the Earth God explains a Yokai (who is immortal and looks down on human beings) what is so beautiful about human life. Human life is fragile. In comparison to a Yokai’s immortality, human life is just a drop in the ocean. Therefore humans are driven to make every moment of their fragile life count.
I believe that this isn’t true only in the manga but also in life. Our soul craves to live every moment to the fullest, but often we don’t listen to it. We are caught up in the everyday chores of the 3D world. We always seem to chase after something. We constantly ‘do’ and we rarely experience ‘being’. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart also emphasises the pauses in life:
‘The music is not in the notes, but in the silence between.’
Life is also happening when we pause. When we look up from our busy life and start noticing what’s happening around us.
Death — Endings and Beginnings
Death can be a ‘chance’ for us to stop, pause, evaluate and recalibrate ourselves. It can be seen as the end of something. To challenge this belief I would like to invite you to open yourselves up to looking at death as the beginning of something new. Look at nature. The sun is shining brighter and warmer and trees are budding. Flowers are blooming. Bees flying around. And you exclaim — Yay! Spring is coming!
Spring’s arrival marks the end (death) of winter.
When we lose something or when a loved one dies it is a sad ending. But it is also the beginning of something new. Though the transition can be challenging and sometimes painful.
It is important to give endings a proper place in our life. When a loved one dies, we arrange for the funeral. Those who loved the deceased person come together to remember them and share their memories. This is an important ritual. However, it is more for those still living to help them with the transition from one stage into a new stage — where their loved one won’t be there physically any longer. The transition happens through grieving. Therefore it is important we give ourselves the permission to feel the pain over our losses. Only when we put this burden down, we are able to carry on. Death of an idea, of a relationship, letting go of the concept of who we are — they all require us to deal with loss.
We can let go of only what we acknowledge and accept. To do this we often need to look at the darkest corners of our souls. No, it doesn’t mean that we are unearthing something that is really bad and we should be ashamed of it. We look at something that might be causing so much pain, that we find it hard to look at it.
We can see things how they are only when we shed some light on them.
When we honour endings, we send a conscious signal to life that we acknowledged what needed to be acknowledged. These endings are never one-time occurrences. They can take several stages or reruns to completely allow ourselves to say goodbye to what doesn’t serve us anymore. When we let go, we are creating space for something new to come in.
Probably not just for me, but for many of us, the past 12–18 months was a period when we needed to let go of many beliefs not just about the world but about ourselves too. To recalibrate and to start with a tabula rasa.
Every ending contains a new beginning. That’s life for you. Nothing is permanent. Everything is in constant motion and transformation. We are like ‘travellers’ who are able to feel at home everywhere because they don’t rely on the outer circumstances to make them feel a certain way. They know their heart and all of their actions start from there. I believe that we all have good intentions in our hearts, but don’t always use the right methods to express these intentions.
Never be afraid of asking for help. You don’t have to be Superman or Wonder Woman, or one of the Avengers. By the way, they also worked better and achieved more when they shared the burden and worked together.
‘A burden shared is a burden halved.’
Don’t be afraid of sharing. Don’t be afraid of fully listening. Listen and be there for the other person, and don’t just listen for what to ask next, what to say. Often silence has more power than talk. We can also connect in silence. Allow your ego to ‘die’ when listening to another person without trying to listen to answer. Listen with your heart. Connect with the emotions the speaker is expressing and not with the words.
Separate and yet Connected
Seemingly we are all separate individuals but we are more connected than we think. Our experiences join us. Love, joy, fear, death. The person next to you experiences the same emotions as you.
Endings are constantly present in our life. It is part of our human experience. Because we know that there is an end to one stage, let’s make sure that every day counts and we add our piece to the puzzle creating a nicer and better future for the generations following us. Let’s leave them something wonderful they can build on and don’t rob them of the opportunities and possibilities they deserve. By robbing the coming generation of the wonders of this beautiful world, we also rob ourselves of the opportunity of leading a meaningful life — what our soul desperately craves.
Transformation comes from within. You might call me naive, but I believe that at the core we all want and crave meaningful connections, unconditional love, and acceptance. Bert Hellinger (the founder of systemic constellations therapy) built his life work around love being a driving force of life. We are able to lead compassionate life. And you can start living this compassionate life right now.
This article was originally posted on Medium.
Written by Petra J.