Making Friends with Death

I recently attended a retreat the sole purpose of which was to meditate upon death.  Gulp.  Most people don’t really want to be on a first name basis with the grim reaper, if you know what I mean.  And yet, fear of dying is an undercurrent for much of human unhappiness.  Making peace with the inevitable is to make peace with life.

Thirty of us sat in silence, with our eyes closed.  The leader chanted, “Your death is certain.”  She rapped repeatedly on a drum saying, “Your death is absolutely certain and unavoidable.”  Drum, drum, drum.  “And you have no idea when it will happen.”  Drum, drum, drum.  Then the drumming stopped and we sat, without a sound, meditating on this powerful and sobering message.

We don’t know when we will go. Many of us certainly have more time behind us than we do ahead.  Yet, when it comes our turn to pass, as it has come to all throughout time, how will we go?  Will we scream, cry, and wail?  Or will we leave with gratitude and love, crossing into the unknown without resistance?

Which way would you rather go?

Have you made friends with death?

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3 thoughts on “Making Friends with Death

  1. Miriam

    This is such an important conversation and I appreciate you writing on this theme and sharing your experiences. There are many things I like about being in the 50+ age group, but having to say good-bye to so many friends and family members is beyond difficult. In American culture, we are reluctant to talk about death and dying, much less grief. Everyone just wants you to “get over it.” But death is part of life. . . we need to make informed decisions about the end of life. . . we need to be a comfort to others who are grieving. . . we need to understand how to honor the lives of those who have gone before us. My favorite quote is that “grief is evidence that love exists.” I will choose love everytime, even if the price is grief.

  2. Halina Goldstein

    Hello Ashley,

    What a powerful meditation… I kind of envy you the experience. I imagine it’s quite different from doing the same thing solo.

    While there’s definitely the discomfort of the how?! how am I going to leave?…
    at 60 I’m finding the awareness of entering the final part of my life journey surprisingly empowering:

    Whatever I want to create/achieve/share has to happen now. The time ahead is very limited, even more so compared to the time I’ve had already. “It’s now or never” is very real all of a sudden and very helpful. It’s time for big choices, important choices. Drum drum drum indeed! 🙂

    Thank you for the inspiration and the reminder!