Could embracing death help us live?

We are all going to die! I’ll just hit you with the realness.

With a truth that many people will spend a lifetime avoiding until it is thrust into the forefront of your life, until it is unavoidable, by which point you will be totally unprepared to deal with all that is entailed in what can be a very complicated and complex event. It may be your own death or the death of a loved one, but the fact that you will, at some point, have to deal with death is inevitable.

I was thrown into death at 9 years old when my mum died. No guide, no understanding, and no awareness. My mum had cancer, but my parents had decided not to tell us that she could and would die. I wish they had. I wish they had told us so that we could have truly embraced our time together, so that I could have extracted information from my mum that I now have no way of ever knowing. I wish they had told me so that I, even as a child, was prepared. I wish that I had been told about grief and all it entails.

It wasn’t until almost 20 years later when my sister died that I was able to gather the relevant information for myself. I read a book called ‘On Grief and Grieving’ which helped me make sense of what I was feeling and thinking. I was then able to articulate myself to friends. I finally decided on therapy as a means of trying to make peace within myself. I wanted to get off the emotional roller coaster that I had been riding for years. I wanted to finally become a real human because if I’m honest, since the death of my mum, I haven’t felt like one. I always felt second rate, a bottom feeder, incomplete and lost. I tried to elevate myself and to some extent I did, but those feelings still followed me. They hung on to me, pulled me back and always made other people’s opinions, wants and needs more important than my own.

In the western world it seems we spend a lifetime avoiding the acknowledgement of something that will happen to us all. So much so that when it does it happen, we are knocked so hard that our world can fall off its axis, and sometimes it stops spinning altogether. The only good thing that comes from a bad thing is what we choose to do next. How we choose to perceive the event and how we allow it to shape us. Which is our choice. This is not to say that we shouldn’t be emotional and feel our feelings, because not doing anything can be hugely detrimental to our healing. What I am saying is that it takes time to overcome, but as we start to see bits of our life through the fog that is grief, we have to decide how we want to view the event that has happened.

The only sense I can make of it is to learn all I can and to allow it to strengthen me, to make me more courageous, to remember that I am living, not just for myself, but for 2 women who I loved immensely.

This isn’t as easy as it sounds, and for me it’s an ongoing process. I have lots of thoughts, beliefs and attachments that were formed after my mum died that still affect me today. Becoming aware of them, working hard to heal them and to change them for the better is something that is constantly evolving for me. It is something I invest both time and money in.
I want to heal myself and I want to know myself. I don’t want to live in ignorance of what is happening within myself, whilst I blame others and the events of my life for making me ‘this way’. I have played the victim and it is disempowering. It’s detrimental. Although it felt like home for such a long time, life did not start truly improving until I was ready to take responsibility for myself and my life.

If you are lucky enough that your life hasn’t yet been affected by death, then this blog post is just as much for you as it is for everyone else. Death is unavoidable, which is why I have written my ‘F**KET LIST’. As in F**KET IT at some point we are all going to die, so while we are here we should embrace life, all its wonder, it’s beauty and all its opportunities. My list is compiled of simple, affordable and easily accessible things as well as major, big budget Hollywood movie style things. I don’t need to achieve them all but I want to have a list. I want to embrace the fact that this lifetime is limited. That I can’t keep putting things off until tomorrow, especially when I could do them today.

Even the big things can be achieved if we stopped wasting our resources on needless stuff that brings us momentary joy. For example, if I stopped buying clothes I would save enough to visit one of the places on my list. I have enough clothes, I don’t NEED more, I just want more because I have been programmed to believe that having them makes me a better person. I am well aware of this and so I have to start making changes. I won’t remember the clothes I bought, but I will remember the amazing experiences I have had ticking things off my list.

Love and memories,

Claira

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