Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about death. All kinds of death.
Yesterday my daughter went to an early Halloween party. She dressed in white and black, and wanted to be a skeleton underneath that. So I painted her face and chest – white for the bones, black for the leftover space.
The result was lovely. Spooky. Vibrant.
One of my favourite cards in my Tarot deck is the Death card.
She’s a big and scary card, but I’ve gotten her often enough that I now love, love, love her. Because she always signifies change, and often, these days, it’s change that is wanted.
I haven’t always been so open and accepting when it comes to change. Even the change I’ve sought out. But most often, I simply haven’t wanted change, even when I’ve made the changes myself, they’ve often been in reaction or resistance to my experiences, rather than as a whole-hearted choice to transform my life.
However, what I’ve been learning as I grow in this world is that I don’t often get my way.
When I don’t have control, I can either fight it, resist, fret, worry and feel frustrated over everything, or, I can accept that things are not working out the way I wanted, but whatever is going on can still be engaged in, enjoyed, and fully inhabited.
And in this vein, the changes I’ve resisted have become open doors filled with many deaths, and thus, the opportunity for so many different kinds of rebirths.
This year, I intend to truly, whole-heartedly embrace the tiny deaths, so that I can revel in the rebirths.
Some deaths I’ve experienced lately…
Dying to an idea of one fixed place, being born into the idea of having many homes simultaneously. Letting a sense of home be fluid. Departing my beloved hometown of Whitehorse, and returning to the Cowichan Valley. Recommitting to another two years down here for my daughter’s Waldorf elementary school experience. Knowing that my roots are in many different places.
The death of a constant state of worries, judgments and self-censure. As a result, I am experiencing being reborn as someone who is more scatterbrained, someone who loses track of details and time more often, and someone who experiences being a beginner more often.
Dying into new relationships. By leaving old ones. Letting go of the burning desire to maintain old friendships and connections out of sadness, nostalgia, fear, guilt. Being born into friendships that arrive effortlessly, communities that open up to me joyfully.
Letting the deeply grooved compulsion to be responsible die. Die and die and die some more. I do not have to stay so vigilant and alert anymore. My younger siblings are adults now, my daughter is keen and capable and so delightful, I no longer have to be the responsible one. What a beautiful funeral this death has been. And thus, I get to be reborn into a mother and friend and family member who can be more playful, have more fun. Who can simply enjoy the life and the people that are all around.
Letting the need to KNOW die. Die. Die. Dead and gone. Understanding that the need to know was a self-protective reflex, a misguided thought that if I could know everything as much as possible, I could avoid the pain and shame of ‘not-knowing’, I could have the answers anyone needed, I could be indispensible, but most of all, infallible.
The ‘knowing’ self-protection is allowed to die. It is such a relief to accept that I don’t need to know everything, that now I can ask more questions, be more curious, be able to be a beginner without feeling shame, embarrassment, and a fear of asking. Letting go of the fear of not knowing. I can just be.
Letting myself want what I want. Letting the ideas of who I SHOULD be die, and die and die some more.
I want to be myself. And that self is changeable, emotional, impatient, and sometimes fickle.
That self is so surprising. She is also loyal, caring and right now, that self wants a puppy and to build a tiny house on wheels with her daughter. That self wants to make art, work in carpentry, teach workshops and work with clients fixing their posture. That self also wants to be a burlesque dancer, a hermit, and play the accordion.
Really? That self is my self. My self is so much more than I ever understood, or thought, or realized. My self is a delightful collection of selves.
Most of all, my self doesn’t, any longer, give a shit about the fact that she and her many selves makes little sense to anyone else.
In fact, that self, my self, is also letting die the idea that everything about her needs to be explained to others, to be justified. The self that felt compelled to make sense of herself to others has died a happy, longed-for and painless death.
Because the self that’s been born just doesn’t care at all. She wants what she wants, and she doesn’t care if she doesn’t make sense to anyone else, because she makes sense to herself.
I’m discovering that all the tiny deaths, these are the ones that, when we let them really and truly die, accumulate to make up a well-lived life.
Worries. Regrets, fears, longings. Yep, I still have them. Absolutely.
But I no longer allow then to pull me out of the life I’m living.
And the life I’m living, it gets richer, and juicier.
I am loving my teenage daughter. I’m blown away by her joy, beauty and zest for life. I feel fiercely protective of children and teenagers, and want to make sure they are safe enough to be themselves.
I am loving all the changes in my extended family, and all the new family members arriving.
I’m so thrilled to be learning carpentry, to be making art, to be teaching workshops, to be working with the most inspiring clients in the world. I’m less worried about money, and more connected to the beauty all around me.
How can life feel so painful, amazing, joyful and beautiful all at once?
That’s the mystery and blessing I think, of being alive, and letting life live through me. The hurt is part of the pleasure, and as long as I let it all be felt, and let it all flow through me, I’ll be fine.
My wish. For everyone to feel what they feel, and embrace it all, while still letting the things that need to die, die, so that what is hungry to be born can rush out and live.
And as a reminder to myself? Well, I know what my next tattoo is going to be! And where. I’ll share a picture once I have it 🙂
And so! To the beauty of our bones, the fertile, the living, and the decomposing. It’s all one and the same.
With much love and gratitude for your reading eyes,
- Ways to work with death and get through your grief: sign up for Riding the Waves, Honouring Your Grief, my 5 module self-directed ecourse. Click here to learn more.
- Anger is a big part of the grieving process too. Learn how to work with it and harness it here.