The Fear Of Death
I just returned from my sister's funeral where I had given the eulogy. The theme behind my writing was what I had learned from my sister's passing. Because so many of you (342 to be exact) were so kind to offer and extend your prayers, blessings, sympathy and condolences, I thought that I would provide you with an excerpt from this eulogy as today's Spiritual Insight.
A few weeks before her death, Sandy (my wife) and I spent a few days at my sister's bedside. During this time, she asked me what she should do ... should she take the chemotherapy and fight the cancer?
Her sons and I told her that this was a decision that only she could make and followed that by asking her ... "What is that you want?" She responded: "I want to live and fight this cancer, but at the same time I am sick of the pain and going through this part of my life being depressed and so lonely, but .... " And she stopped there and I asked her why did you stop after the "but"? As tears entered her eyes, she said "I stopped brother, because I was going to say ... "but, I'm afraid to die." It was her fear of death that made her want to cling to life ... no matter how bad it seemed. This was the main thing that I learned from her passing.
We talked about this for quite some time and as we did, I realized that her fear of death was due to what we were taught at an early age ... what we were taught about "sin" and the fear of being punished and possibly sentenced to a dreaded place called Hell where we would burn in a fiery pit for all eternity. I thought ... "How sad it is that "death" ... one of the only things except perhaps "change" itself ... is a primary certainty for all of us, and yet, we have to approach it with such fear."
We find many writings that reflect that God is unconditionally loving. Yet, many of us to this day are still being instilled with the fear of a "judgment day" when God will punish us for our sins against Him. Why is it that emphasis is not placed on the fact that we are not these "biological bubbles" we call bodies ... that we are not bodies with souls, but souls with bodies ... souls that are immortal? Why is it that we don't place more emphasis on this and of a God who is unconditionally loving, rather than on the fears of a judgment day, fears of a place called Hell where we can experience eternal damnation in the afterlife?
Think about it! Do you really believe that our God could possess such wrath and anger? Better yet, let me ask those of you who are parents ... "Could any of your children do something so bad that you would want to see them punished for all eternity?" I'm sure that just as I couldn't, you couldn't either. Well, if this is so, doesn't it beg the question: "Can we have a love that is greater than God's?" And the answer is "Of course not!" and this is only one of the reasons why such a punishing God is not part of my reality ... a reality that I tried so desparately to pass on to my dying sister.
Our fear of death is the "unknowing" ... not having been taught as Jesus knew ... that death is only a transition of going from one state of being to another. The only difference between us and the Master Jesus is that He knew who he really was and most of us don't have a clue. When asked who we are, how do most of us respond? "I'm a lawyer" or "I'm the CEO of such and such a company" or "I am a college graduate with such and such a degree." Well, we are not the work we do, the title we hold or the education that we have gained ... no more than we are the ego personality or the weaknesses and limitations that we display in this life. Who we really are, are Souls (spirits of unconditional love) who have incarnated into this physical dimension to experience our all-knowingness as sparks of the Divine ... who learn from the things that we do and the things that we are being during this journey we call life. We are Souls who have come here to learn, grow and evolve to higher levels of consciousness as spirit. And that's who my sister was ... and still is ... a perfect soul on a path to learning.
If and when we come to remember and understand who we really are, we will know that we have nothing to lose around death, except the fear of it that I mentioned here. What happens to us when we die is both more ordinary and more wonderful than most of us have ever dared to expect; for death is the ultimate healer, and those who are imprisoned in diseased and aging bodies like my sister, become free. My sister passed away right after Mother's Day and I believe that she did so to receive the best Mother's Day gift she was needing this year. She was released from her pain, she is free and at peace and we ought to fare her well in her new life. It is only we who are not ready to die who feel the losses of Earth. We are the ones who still have the need to cry and be healed.
I, like many of you, believe in God and in Angels. I also believe in the beings of love and light who guide us through our lives and are there to receive us when we die. My sister was by the grace of God granted a reprieve for almost a year to the day when the cancer was first discovered. She was given this time to finish something ... whatever it was ... and we are thankful for it. I was especially thankful for the two weeks she was able to spend with us ... an enjoyable and most memorable time when I was able to truly see my sister at her best.
"I have everything now, brother" ... that's what my sister said to me as I was giving her eulogy. My sister is with the Angels now, and I was as challenged as anyone present at her service for how to balance the mourning for our loss with the joy for her gain. Somehow, I thought, she was so much better off than we were feeling, and yet, we each belong here while she belongs there. We will see her again, this I know, just as we will see again all of the loved ones we have ever lost. Some call it Heaven where our friends and loved ones go ... a place the with God and a place some like myself call Home.