Reflections on death
Death is in the news in an unprecedented way, for we walk in uncharted territory. I’ve noticed that the daily reports of large numbers of deaths for which covid-19 is a factor have somehow changed my sensitivity to reports of death. How could it be that a report of hundreds of deaths seems good? Because it is a drop on the day before, or is lower than I anticipated. How fast we become anaesthetised to pain and suffering.
I got curious about what level of deaths nationally is usual. A recent BBC report pointed to the general number being around 1,643 a day, or 600,000 a year. I was surprised. This seemed so, so many. How, I wondered, is death not a bigger part of our general discourse given its evident every-dayness?
It is not yet clear how many additional deaths covid-19 is causing, and how many are deaths brought forward for people who were very much at risk even without this deadly virus. It seems to me it does not matter. On a daily basis, hundreds and hundreds of families lose someone they love dearly, covid-19 related or not.
How mindful are we of these tragedies on a day in, day out basis? Can you pause and allow yourself to connect with the heart-break, the pain, the sadness of each of these endings? What would happen if you could?
Grief is a natural, normal part of life. We are all born, we will all die. We face loss, and birth in many, many different ways on a daily basis. Losing and beginning jobs, schools, relationships, tenure in properties, financial changes...there are so many ways in which circumstance changes and we grieve and celebrate.
Savouring is a key part of grief. A key aspect of grieving is to allow in the beauty of and connection with what was present and is now lost. The experience of those we lose is still in our bodies, our hearts and minds. Someone recently described Heaven as the place of love we hold, once dead, in the hearts and minds of all who loved us. What a beautiful metaphor. Perhaps we fixate too much on the sadness we feel having lost what we wanted to hold on to, at times we may hold on too long to the pain. What about the joy of the memories of what we had? Can we instead hold them close too?
One benefit of the current crisis is that it brings mortality and the fragility of life into our collective awareness. It seems to me that now is a time to celebrate life. To cherish and be thankful for each person dear to us, to appreciate each passing day of health and well-being. I only hope we can maintain some of this sense of gratitude beyond the end of the covid outbreak, and make it part of our collective way of being.
Wishing you and those you love well-being and happiness, come what may.