We Can Resist or Embrace Dying
My best friend, Kathleen, thrived through stage 4 breast cancer only to die from it six years later. She was the inspiration for me in learning to thrive despite being near death. After overcoming the cancer, she developed a deep gratitude for living and a lack of fear of dying.
Can you feel the difference between the two words, birth and death? “Birth” has a lightness and joyous feeling associated with it. Hear the word “Death” and you probably have a heavy and perhaps sad feeling come over you.
These feelings are natural. We are wired to want to live, so we of course prefer that! Yet.. what is also natural is death. While in Survival Mode we don’t want to think about death. In Thriving Mode we actually embrace it as a natural part of the life cycle and can approach that time with an open mind and tender heart.
We resist death by pretending it won’t happen. We convince ourselves that we can eat, drink alcohol, and engage in other drugs ignoring the longer wear and tear on the body. We can also neglect exercise and sleep thinking we can get away with it. One of the biggest factors on shortening our life span is the impact stress has on our immune system and inflammation. Most of us don’t meditate or take a class in learning how to effectively cope with the stress. Our denial of death keeps us in Survival Mode, allowing us to engage in all the momentary pleasures of excess.
Kathleen survived a near death experience and was VERY aware of its inevitability. She engaged in healthy behaviors, not out of fear but out of respect. This is an example of Thriving Mode, having a mindful and realistic view of death. A deep acceptance of death allows us to live more vibrantly!
When it is our turn to die, we can leave this body with the same resistance associated with Survival Mode, or we can move into Thriving Mode and embrace our death with conscious acceptance and peace. In the last month of her life, Kathleen learned to play the ukulele and sang Bob Marley’s version of “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright” to her children. She saw this limited time of living as an opportunity to be grateful for life’s challenges as well as the joys of life. So let’s not wait for a life-threatening condition to awaken to your dying. You have a choice, to create a Thriving Moment, now.