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  • Writer's pictureNicholas Clay


What is death? Better yet — even less may think about — what is birth? Where do we “go” when we die? Where were we before birth? Is there a difference?

Questions that I will not pretend to know the answer(s) to. What I will touch on is what causes our struggle when we experience it. Whether that is a family member or close friend (who might as well be family), the reality of the pain of losing someone has nothing to do with them and everything to do with us. We are not sad for that person; rather, we are sad because of what they meant to us. Over 88,000 people have died on the day I am writing this post, and most likely, we have not shed a single tear. Yet if one or more of those numbers were a person we identified with as part of our lives or close to us, we would surely shed a tear or two at some point. Sometimes, it’s because we feel like we’re supposed to, and other times, it's because that person was someone we heavily identify with as being "part of us," like our parents or a spouse. Have you ever heard someone say, “I’ve lost a part of myself”? And they’re not lying (about their feeling). Only it’s not our self we have lost, and it's not something that belongs to us in the first place to be lost to us. No one person belongs to any other person. We are all interdependent (or co-dependently) living our lives regardless of how much we may share of ourselves with others.


Maybe if we understood more about the questions at the beginning of this article, our association with death would be different. As a child, I never understood why people got upset when someone died because I was brought up being told we would go to heaven, and from my understanding, that never seemed like a bad place to be, so why would we not be happy for them?

From 2015, I watched someone close to me die a little every day for about a year - until cancer ended their experience in this World in 2016 - This was around the time I began reading A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle and began to see life a bit clearer and deeper. I also began to see how much our ego attaches to people and fears death. This allowed me to be at peace with the loss by first accepting it.

Never have I watched someone experience so much pain to the point of absolute submission. Never have I watched such a slow progressive process of life lost. As much as I loved her and would have wanted her still here, I also loved her enough not to wish her here under unfavorable circumstances where no quality of life existed. I left for a trip that was planned almost a year in advance to travel almost halfway around the World, and I knew she would not be there when I returned. I knew what had to be done. So, as I packed my bags and made my way to leave, I went by her side, gave her a kiss, and whispered in her ear, "It's ok to leave; I love you" . A few days later (thanks to technology and Wi-Fi), I received a phone call via Facebook Messenger to inform me that she had passed. I was happier to know she was free than to know she was in unbearable pain.   


When is a good time to die? So many would wish to have their loved ones back for one more day, and then what? When is it ok? Do you wish only parents back? Grandparents? Great grandparents? Great great-grandparents?… You see, as soon as we get a generation removed from ourselves and feel no sense of self, even a direct family member causes us no pain of loss.


It’s not the loss of the person that hurts; it’s the partial loss of the identity that person held in place. We perceive to lose a "part" of ourselves, and emotionally speaking, we lose someone who may have been a strong part of our emotional regulation center in our brain. Void of acceptance, those who experience loss will forever hold their grief.

Grief is a lower state of consciousness and is inherently selfish. Sadness, however, is completely temporary and healthy. Grief comes from thinking of ourselves over the person whom we have lost.

"Death is only experienced by the living."

"Death is only experienced by the living."
"Death is only experienced by the living."

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