Excerpt from art-book "Poems & Prayers for Women of Depth" by Michelle Nicole Murphy -
"I am not afraid to die.
I am not afraid to live."
Excerpt from Chapter 11 of book "On Death and Dying" by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, M.D. - "A chance for peace may thus be found in studying the attitudes towards death in the leaders of the nations, in those who make the final decisions of war and peace between nations. If all of us would make an all-out effort to contemplate our own death, to deal with our anxieties surrounding the concept of our death, and to help others familiarize themselves with these thoughts, perhaps there could be less destructiveness around us."
Quote by Mark Twain - “The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.”
Genesis 24, Verse 67 - "Then Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent, and he took Rebekah, and she became his wife, and he loved her; thus Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death."
Excerpt from "Hamlet" by William Shakespeare -
“To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover'd country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.--Soft you now!
The fair Ophelia! Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my sins remember'd!”
I have a relationship with death. Twice I had allergic reactions to medications while in the hospital that caused me to go through processes I'll never forget. I can only relate those instances to passing on. In one instance my throat swelled and I couldn’t breathe. My mindset at the time was a fear of death, but also a wish for death. Facing it changed my life. When I couldn’t breathe my pulse seemed to slow down and time passed extremely slow; I could hear my heartbeat aloud. I had a vision in my mind of a young woman running forever on a beach, and I reflected the vision onto my life as if I was the woman and had been running for most of my existence. This correlation dawned on me and I was able to breathe again once the lesson was learned. I was forever changed by that moment. The event was spiritual, both in concept and in feeling. I felt light-weight as if I could float away throughout the entire process and I was extremely calm. I felt respite and relief. The other incident I again felt light-weight and detached from my body. I threw a blanket over my face to cocoon myself a bit and began to feel as if I might be passing out. The knit patterns in the blanket began to take on fractal-shapes and I had total mind-body-system relief. It was if one had a painful muscle tear and applied some Icy Hot to it, and feeling completely cured and beyond wonderful; I felt beyond wonderful in the over-drugged state of mind I was in. I had been out-of-body several times in my life and this was the most pleasant transition into that state of detachment. In some way, these two instances had an immediate affect of me desiring to make a full transition through death to something beyond death. In the long-run I feel prepared for death. I also have a bit of a new life and new perspective.
I visit the dying and my favorite patient is an elderly woman. She was exuberant during our first visit and insisted she worked at the nursing home. But by the second visit reality had set in for her. She didn’t talk much but colored beautifully in an art-book all day. She finally did speak of her husband who had died in this same way in a nursing home and how she missed him and that they were once a wonderful couple. She lamented. But despite her bad day and harsh reality, she was in the activity room doing an activity that very few will take on at that stage of a terminal diagnosis. She is a hero to me - she is thinking about her life, and about her pending death, the people she loves, while getting out of her room and creating beauty to give rise to something positive within her. This woman has not caved into death as she faces it - she is mustering the strength to live a little bit each day.
Shakespeare refers to the land of the dead as undiscovered country. He says perhaps it is more like a dream than to contain some of the dreadful things of the living. Mark Twain says to live a full life is the best preparation. God tells us how to prepare in this life for the afterlife, with the greatest commandment being loving others. One of the greatest examples is Jesus Christ's sacrifice for all of us. Mourning death is altogether complex and Isaac sure has the best medicine after the loss of his mother Sarah - the introduction of Rebecca his wife into his life. Life is a revolving door sometimes, rife with pain but also containing opportunity and blessing.
I think passing is peaceful for those that are prepared. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, M.D., a death expert, speaks of so many patients that have near-death experiences, and that may be the best evidence we have for the undiscovered country outside of religious teachings. But the religious teachings are aligned with the experiences and not opposed in any confrontational way. Elisabeth is also right that we have leaders, along with the masses in general, who feel immortal or deny the experience of death. Yet governments are very adept at killing, and it is easy for one to say, "well it wasn't me". Let's not cave into death that way; non-personal deaths ordered from remote places, happening in remote places, with little remorse or attention are a terrible thing. We must all become familiar with death.
Dear God, I pray for the strength to be like this woman from the nursing home - lamenting on a bad day and creating beautiful artwork at the same time. Whether I may feel severely depressed on any given day, the right thing to do is to pick myself up and force the situation into the best that it can be. I know the drill and it comes across my plate on a regular basis. When I am terminally ill, or facing death, or mourning a loved one, my reaction to the situation will be built upon the legwork I put in now for everyday troubles. May I always find a blessing or create a blessing for someone else. It is certain our birth and our passing is determined or pre-determined or known by You God. I do not want to pray out of fear, but I do hope it is Your will that my husband and I both live out the majority of our lives, and that not one of us has to carry on alone for a long period; but Your will be done. So many in my extended family have had to walk that line of losing a spouse in mid-life, including my mom. Just like Isaac, new opportunities have made their way into her life. So far the blessings have outweighed the gut-wrenching pain of loss and we can all move forward; thank you Lord. In Jesus name, Amen.
The author can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.