What is Death?

I am in shock. One of  my dearest friends, and one of the dearest people I have ever known, a man just slightly older than I am who I had a long telephone conversation with just two days ago, suddenly died today. He was healthy, happy, fit, looking forward to the future, had just presented a book proposal to his publisher, one of the most happily married people I have ever been witness to, with a world of options still ahead for him that he couldn’t wait to explore – and he died suddenly.

Where is he? Where is Coco? What is death? How are those of us left behind meant to conceive of it? I have experienced death before, my father, an early boyfriend, and it all seemed beyond my grasp. Suddenly I need to grasp it. What? How are we meant to deal with this? I cannot even begin to imagine what his wife is feeling right now. What will the days and months ahead present? This is inconceivable. I don’t get it.

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One Response to “What is Death?”

  1. Joy Parker Says:

    My Dearest Tayria: I don’t know the answer to this question either. To understand anything of this nature takes a long, long time and a lot of soul searching. When my beloved friend Bob’s wife Rosey died of metastasized cancer over a year ago, in spite of the prayers of hundreds of people, he was devastated and just about lost his faith in everything. When my neighbor Sandy was diagnosed with cancer two months after I was, then died on July 2, I was terrified.

    I do believe, from all of the tragedies and crisis I have passed through, the deaths of loved ones that I have endured, and the lessons that life has taught me that there is a reason for everything. I have always been shown the reasons eventually.

    I believe that part of it is that there are certain souls who agree, before we are born when we are all making pacts about how to help each other evolve in this lifetime we will share together, that they will give up their lives prematurely so that we will have to search for answers. And in searching, see our own souls and life purpose more clearly.

    That’s the way we are made, we seek answers. And it is this journey that, if we stay with it, no matter the pain, no matter the confusion, takes us to a new place. Unfortunately, it takes time–months, years.

    Yet even on these sad journeys, we are taking parallel journeys of joy. I read a message by Rick Warren lately. I don’t entirely agree with his theology, but I do admire him immensely. He said that when he was younger, he thought that life was a series of valleys when a problem situation hits us, and mountains, when we can sail on in joy. But now he believes that we are constantly running on parallel tracks of pain and problems we must grieve and face, and joys and blessings that enrich our lives. We can ask for help in learning from, coping with, getting through the bad and feel gratitude for the many blessings we are given.

    It’s okay to yell at God/dess if you want. I don’t do it too often, but it makes me feel better when I do. You can say to God/dess, “It’s bad enough that I lost my beloved dog, now you’ve taken one of my best friends from me. What could you possibly be thinking? What in the world are you doing here? How can you possibly think this is for my highest good? Have you lost your mind? Don’t I ever get a break?”

    Yelling at God/dess usually helps me to start a useful dialogue or at least to get my confusion and anger off my chest so I can move forward.

    I just finished reading Eat, Pray, Love. In it, the author describes her four-year journey out of an unfulfilling marriage, a messy divorce, a failed second attempt at love into the determination to create herself anew–or, another way of looking at it, to finally find our who she really is and what serves her or doesn’t serve her in her life. It’s a beautiful, honest, powerful journey filled with humor. Few books have affected me more or given me more insight into the fact that we all suffer. No one is exempt. But, as she reminds us, happiness isn’t a rare gift that falls from heaven like a winning lottery ticket. We make our own happiness.

    Finding and maintaining happiness is an art, like learning how to play the piano well. We cultivate happiness like the food we need to survive.

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