A group of people is connected through meditation and cancer. Some of us have known nach other for more than 4 years, some longer. For many, their cancer’s into remission — leaving them with FOR: fear of remission — some valiantly continue various modes of treatment, while others have drifted out of sight. Several have died: one a month ago, another just last night. As her last breath approached, a message went around, suggesting we listen to music she’d loved. In this way we were linked, each alone yet near each other.
How do we mourn? How does one open to pain and not-knowing? In times past, tribal communities would have gathered, religious persons lead us in prayer, skilled men or women performed age-old rites — leaving others to just be, safe to immerse themselves in anguish. But what of this contemporary world, where talking about dying is frowned upon and many are unprepared for Death’s knock at the door.
When is a good time to get ready? Right now, I’d say, while the heart is raw (or complacent, depending on your state this day). Nothing fancy, no need to find a death café, or wait to attend someone’s ‘celebration of life’. Begin right here, right now, by yourselves.
Here are some ideas on how to proceed. Prepare a comfortable chair or cushion, light a candle, maybe incense; place a loved-one’s picture next to it, a flower and soothing music, creating your very own ritual. No cell phone, no expectations, no agenda. Place the palm of one hand (or both) over your heart space and feel what’s there to feel. Even ‘nothing’ is a feeling state. After a while, if you wish, inquire most lovingly: How are you? Where does it hurt? What am I afraid of? What do I wish for?
Kahlil Gibran’s words come to mind. “Tell us about death,” someone had asked the Prophet and he spoke —
You would know the secret of death.
But how shall you find it unless you seek it in the heart of life?
The owl whose night-bound eyes are blind unto the day cannot unveil the mystery of light.
If you would indeed behold the spirit of death, open your heart wide unto the body of life.
For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one. (click for more)