Death represents many things for us: the unknown, fear and terror, avoidance at all cost, survival instincts. It brings up questions of what’s on the other side, what will happen to me (or loved ones who pass) and what is life ultimately about as a contrast.
Religions are founded on explaining the unknown aspects of death ~ and that structure can govern a believer’s action now. People go to church, temples, mosques and other institutions on a religious basis to guarantee good faith in death. Terrorist suicide bombers give up their lives, and others lives, to ascertain a place in paradise. Jehovah Witness followers suffer door slams and goading to maintain their faith. It’s almost like an investment.
Death as a Personalised Force
In myths and legends throughout the centuries, death has been a personified force.
Death has been presented as young or old, male or female ~ but often the colour theme is black or white. This represents a potent symbology of how clear-cut death is ~ death is the end, whether you’ve completed what you wanted or not.
In all the stories and myths, it is also noticeable that death is extremely grotesque (hags, skeletons, decayed flesh, monsters) or divinely beautiful (angels, winged man/youth). This is definitely seen by the perceiver, not necessarily the experiencer. Death can be beautiful, as it finally gives an ending to a long period of suffering, or ugly, as it gives an unwelcome shock or trauma to the loss of those you love.
Then, all the questions arise of ‘where to from here?’ and 'will I be OK?'. This either brings up great contemplation or unconscious reactivity & avoidance.
Our Society’s View on Death
Our Australian society has a major fear of death of our citizens.
You witness it in the political sphere where policies and regulations change as soon as one death occurs. In 2016, a fight led to a death in the Fortitude Valley clubbing scene of Brisbane, leading to a new lockdown policy enforced. Same with a recent lock-down in Sydney. Speeding fines & rules become more and more restrictive with each increased holiday death toll. Yet, our politicians have no problem with the death outside our borders, as seen in the turning away of the boat system and of Naru/Manas Island.
During my trip in Africa in Swaziland several years ago, I witnessed a different reality. The most confronting was driving through Swaziland. There were many people sitting on the back of utes and trucks, we were in an enclosed van. As we overtook a small traffic jam, one of the girls said, “Don’t look out the window Leah”. Of course, I look out the window and an old woman had fell off the ute and was laying dead on the ground. There was a knowing that this would not create a political change, people wouldn’t suddenly be enforced to stop riding on the back of utes or wearing seatbelts because people were just barely having enough to eat and there were enough problems with the king spending too much money anyway.
The life expectancy in Swaziland is ~60, as opposed to ~80 in Australia.
But that being said, health and well-being is not simply the absence of death ~ which we often unconsciously believe. We only perceive it as such. This leads to a ‘war’ on cancer, because of the death factor, not because of the excruciating and sometimes life-debilitating experience of chemotherapy. Which begs the question ~ which is worse: suffering or death?
I was faced with this question myself as one of my guinea pigs came up with an unexpected health condition that cost a lot of money and unknown chance of her becoming better again. For 8 weeks, my daughter and I hand-fed her 3 times a day, as she needed to go through teeth grinding surgery and basically couldn’t eat by herself. I even ordered a patented guinea-pig jaw support design in the hope that it might help her recover.
The 8 weeks dragged out, I never had enough sleep and my health deteriorated. I managed to keep everything afloat, however it felt like having a newborn baby. Her feeding would take between 30 minutes to 2 hours, 3 times a day. Juggling work, my business and all other commitments I had on, my life was turned upside down.
The biggest problem was not any of this, but my reaction to her potentially dying. I faced a lot of my suppressed grief of my mum’s death during my teen years, rising back to the surface. And I reacted to that with a classic myth in our collective consciousness ~ the fruitless pursuit for immortality.
After the 3rd teeth surgery (the second grinding) and the jaw support not working for her particular case, she was clearly not getting better. And I fell into questioning whether to go with the flow (death is natural and a part of life) OR do I fight it until the bloody end and give Lola every opportunity to hang onto life?
I fell into a self-imposed trap of ‘if I’m a creator then I should be able to find a way for her’. But this is not what being a creator is about ~ being in absolute control and escaping death. Being a creator is being in the natural flow and your natural flow, creating more joy and diversity and experience around and within you.
So, I came to a resolution (with a tiny bit of help from a client, unexpectedly).
I questioned the resolution, but still went to the vet for her to be euthanised. It took 3 injections (more than for a small dog) to finally help her pass ~ and each time I had to energetically tell her that it was OK to let go. Her heart was strong, even though her jaw was weak.
And yes, on that vet table, when I watched her be euthanised, take her last breath ~ I experienced all that about death. That it is clear-cut, black and white – it was both beautiful and ugly at the same time - that even though she was still warm, her life-force had exited from the body.
So, she went into peace after a long 8 weeks of being unable to eat for herself when she wanted and peace from the frustration of not being able to move her jaw to its full capacity. It was also very saddening that she was no longer her vibrant self and her life force diminished from her body, going elsewhere.
The vet and vet nurse talked with me afterward ~ but I had already calmed as soon as she went under anaesthesia. They talked about her dying with dignity, unlike how our laws prevent this for humans in our country. I thought of my mum’s fight with chemotherapy, where in the final months, she had turned a yellow colour and she had oedema all over her body (especially her feet, which were swollen like balloons). There was an oxygen mask trying to help her breathe on the last day as we held her hands before she passed.
Facing Decisions with Death
But, unlike human death, most other things can be decided on whether we wish to let it die and end – be it a creative project, a relationship or friendship, a career or a stage of life. Also, with a pet that is in suffering and with low chance of a quality life.
But it is not always such an easy decision.
I questioned my decision for euthanasia, this was not an action I could undo. It goes to show that there is not much in life that is as clear-cut as the finality of death. I questioned whether there was something else I could do. But, it was as if when I made that final decision to book in the euthanasia, with 3 days remaining to spend with her, that she actually seem to start giving up the fight for life.
So, as I do, I tuned in for intuitive wisdom and guidance.
What I received was simple and clear ~ unlike any of the intuitive guidance I tried to access over the 8 weeks for her.
~ Whatever you do, do it from a place of love ~
With that, I was clear and realigned with my soul. Whatever you do, whether it’s facing death, dealing with your attitudes/concepts with death or just making that hard decision whether to end your project, relationship, etc… Even if euthanasia is not yet legal, abortion is still. With those tough decisions, do so from a place of love. Listen to your heart.
In those moments from when she went under into anaesthesia to her taking her last breath, I got all the answers I was waiting for. But I couldn't have known them in hindsight. Only in that space of love and presence, did I surrender enough to receive.
Dogged stubbornness is unnecessary and is one of the key structures in consciousness (the forceful structure) that will lead to much pain, suffering and ruins. Regardless if you get what you want at the end, you will not be fulfilled by the outcome.
So whatever you do, do it from love.