A close friend’s father just died. The father had been a friend of mine, a wonderful man with whom I had gone to law school. As I don’t feel old, it seemed like an early death. As my father died two weeks ago, somehow death has become up close and personal. Ii know enough about faith and trust in the divine to not be sad about my friend’s death. His family adored him; they are grieving mightily. My compassion goes out to them; obviously I know what they are experiencing.
Death is no stranger to us, we witness its’ passing frequently enough. We don’t do a good enough job of accepting that it is the natural order of things, we are too focused on our loss to let our loved one go. Ideally, we need to understand that death is the natural order of things and it is just another step in our path back home. I suppose that we are affected by someone’s death because it reminds us of our own mortality and the fact that we have missed opportunities with the person who has changed form.
The English vocabulary around death illustrates our misunderstanding of death. People “die”, people “leave”, people are “lost”. All of these words are from the perspective of the person who remains. They are victim words. I prefer the words “graduate” or “change”. After all, in many respects they are simply raising their consciousness to another level that we can visit at any time. I have been sleeping in my father’s bed to remember his energy. Until the last year, he was always a vibrant man with a huge ego. At the memorial service his personality and ego were the topics of much conversation.
I don’t feel like he has gone. He still lives on in my memories, at least. Sleeping in his bed, I have to say that his spirit is still very much palpable. Being in his house with all of his photos and personal belongings has been a trip down memory lane, one I needed to put his final days into better perspective. It only reinforces my understanding that our physical body is just an illusion that we awake from soon enough. For death can be compared to waking up, our physical life is but a dream and when we wake up we leave the illusion behind.
Like all rights of passage, we should celebrate death and not be sad. Think of it as the most important bar/bas mitzvah. When we are born, we race towards it and then everyone feels like something tragic has happened. I was very happy my father died. His suffering in this life has ended. As I have said to people countless times it was a blessing. He lived a full and successful life. At his memorial service the bulletin repeated the preamble of his father in law’s will to the effect that he had been blessed with the love of his friends, the respect of his adversaries, his family, the grace of abundance beyond his efforts, and his faith in God. What else is there to be?
It is comforting to me to know that life does not end when we drop our body. Some dispute this; I wish them well. I will find out, as we all will find out, someday. I rejoice that my father and my friend now know something I will never know in this lifetime, the certainly of the eternal nature of our awareness, our consciousness, our spirit, our soul. Rest well.