The one guarantee in life, is that at one point in time it will come to an end.
As I usually do, I was listening to NPR and loved that they had the courage to actually talk about this often taboo subject.
Death is a natural part of life and we see it everywhere in nature. Everything expires, and in a sense becomes food or energy for something else.
In a way nature is the master recycler, she takes energy and turns it into form and at the end of its lifecycle the form composts back into the larger matrix, only to provide more fuel for other entities to take shape once more.
In the news story I listened to they interviewed Caitlin Doughty, a mortician and writer who runs the website called The Order of the Good Death.
I love some of the ideas that embody her order:
- Making death a part of your life.
- Accepting that death itself is natural, but the death anxiety and terror of modern culture are not.
- Reclaiming personal ritual for our own death and when loved ones pass.
- Exploring what we want to do with our body once we die.
- Getting comfortable with contemplating our own passing and stepping up to have the conversation with older or sick members of our family.
- Putting things in order, so when we die we avoid leaving a mess for loved ones to deal with.
One of the most disturbing facts about modern society is that we have put a middle-man between us and death. Expensive caskets to give the false idea of preservation, tombstones to hold onto our memory, embalming chemicals to prevent decay--haven't we had enough chemical exposure while being alive?--and rituals which often don't celebrate our life.
But there are so many other options. Dying at home, celebrating the final moments, being cremated and having our ashes spread, or having a green burial where we are returned to the earth raw as we are.
While some people avoid the conversation of death, ask my friend Dahlia and she'll probably tell you that I'm on the other extreme of the spectrum. Whenever I get on a plane--totally irrational because flying is safer than driving a car--I remind her of my wishes:
- A weekend extravaganza
- Everyone wearing colorful clothing
- Healthy nutritious food--only things Danny would approve
- Dance music
- Reminiscing about sweet memories
- Some tears, but also laughter
- And my ashes scattered in nature (the Mediterranean in Israel because that is where I was born) and in Vermont (I love the trees)
Last year I also did what I have been thinking about but putting off for years. I signed a will basically leaving everything I have of value to my little nephew.
Even though I love life and appreciate it as the most valuable gift, it feels amazing to step into this conversation of death.
To have a clear plan, to be real, to put things in order, and trust that just like everything else in nature when it is time for my ending, it will only usher in something new, unknown, that yes brings up fear, but still a threshold I am willing to cross with open arms, curiosity, and a ton of gratitude!
Want to dive in further? Checkout tips on the Good Death at The Order of the Good Death blog.