On death and dying
I was the bridegroom taking the world into my arms…”
(From Mary Oliver ‘When Death comes’)
Many people think a lot about death yet they often feel they can’t talk about it. If we name death in a conversation we often feel we shouldn’t have mentioned it. Yet, it’s the one certainty in life. We will all die one day!
I’m interested in death because, like everyone else, I will have to face it one day. The thought of my own death does frighten me yet I feel that in order to live as fully as possible I need to embrace it. If we don’t let death in as a reality then we are already narrowing our experience of living. We are denying to ourselves the one experience that will definitely happen to us. Knowing and fully acknowledging that I will one day die, knowing my time is limited, sharpens the senses and highlights the importance of living each moment to the full. So, I am interested in exploring mortality with my clients. And I do this with healthy people as well as with those who are more imminently facing death. I am interested in exploring our thoughts about death, the process of dying, of letting go of those we love. I am interested in specific things we might want to happen as we approach death. I am interested in embracing death as part of a life fully lived. By engaging with death we are more likely to enter the flow of life where we embrace all that life brings, where we are like the tree that bends with the wind yet remains firmly rooted.
I prefer to do this work on death in the outdoors if possible. In nature, life and death are ever-present. The seasons are forever on the move. Nothing stays static. Plants grow miraculously in the spring, come to fruition with their bountiful colours and fruit in the summer and autumn and die off in winter. Our human lives follow the same cycle.
Nature can be a wonderful teacher about life and death. Life and death are both part of the ongoing cycle that is evolution. Life and death have continued over the millennia and it is through this process that evolution within all species, including the human species, takes place. To resist death is to resist the evolving nature of our own lives. By learning how to die we enhance our experience of living and, conversely, by living our lives more fully death is likely to be more manageable. Its impossible to separate the two.