31 Oct 2014

TWO THINGS ABOUT DEATH THAT THE LIVING NEED TO KNOW

written by Rachelle Taylor
"Life asked death, why do people love me but hate you? 
Death responded: because you are a beautiful lie, and I am a painful truth."

Hallowe'en in the west has become a day/weekend to indulge in excess, but the true roots of this day actually lies in celebrating those we have lost. October 31st, Dia de los Muertes (or Day of the Dead,) is celebrated in Mexico and around the world as a day to gather, pray for, and remember friends and family members who have died.

It is no surprise that somehow the meaning of this day has been lost in North America, as our Western culture has positioned the Inevitable as taboo to discuss. We don't like to talk about the one reality that unites us all. But when we begin to talk about death, as a fact rather than a scary outcome, it allows us to be more connected to and value the present moment.

Having lost two of the greatest men I have known too soon, I would say that I have experienced death and grief more than most people my age. And even though I would do anything to have them back for even just a moment... I can honestly say that my dad dying of a rare cancer and losing my little brother in a tragic snowboarding accident aren't the worst things that have ever happened to me. Actually, I see both of these losses as gifts in my life. Their loss has made me value each and every breath I get to take. It's also allowed me to release all fear - because now I know that I can live through what I once thought impossible and actually come out of it okay.  Most importantly, losing them gave me the courage to fully live life and do what I love, and hopefully through that I can inspire you to do the same.

Here are two things that loss has taught me about death that has allowed me to live a more full life.

1 - It will happen to you.

This is the one certainty, and there is no escaping it. So why are we so afraid? We're afraid to experience it, afraid of what (or what doesn't) come after it, and we spend our lives thinking of ways to escape it, despite it's inevitability for each and every one of us.

Being aware of this fate that we all share connects us as living beings. Coming to terms with your own mortality will make you more aware that each breath is a gift.

"Life. No one gets out alive."

2 - Death doesn't end a relationship

For those of us who are left to live in the pain of loss, we tell ourselves that this is the end of what we loved about them in our lives. And that this person is now forever locked in the past tense. 'I loved them.'

But alas, this isn't the way it has to be. Just because someone is no longer alive doesn't mean you have to stop loving them in the present day. Actually, actively loving them will make you feel more complete, and make the sweet moments of your life even sweeter.

I have found great comfort in actively loving those that I have lost, present tense. I love Tom and I love Nick, and I love grandpapa & Grampa Don. How? By sending them love + light when I think of them. By laughing out loud when I hear something they would find funny. By speaking to them in quiet moments. By celebrating their lives, taking extra enjoyment in the things they liked most and that we shared together. By honouring and visiting the places that they loved on their behalf.  I trust that somehow they are able to hear the ripples of my laughter, and ponder my quiet questions. That they can feel that spark of joy, and enjoy the beauty of the world through my eyes on the other side.

Living life with love for them in my heart makes me feel more alive, and make life more full.

Some of favourite memories of the men I have loved + lost, including a visit to Mosquito Creek, BC (bottom right)- the place where their ashes lie to rest in peace.

Make this Hallowe'en an opportunity to return to the roots of the meaning of the day. Now is the time to start the discussion with your loved ones, what do you believe happens after you die? What do you want your celebration of life to look like? What scares you about dying? You'll be surprised at how alive and connected these conversations will make you feel.

Happy Day of the Dead, prairie yogis. May you celebrate and love those you have lost, present tense.

Rachelle Taylor is a love warrior born and raised in the heart of Canada. This gypsy searched far and wide for inspiration, beauty, and bliss only to return home to Winnipeg where she founded Prairie Yogi as an expression of her love for creativity, yoga, and community.

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