Deading Dance

It’s been a while since I last posted anything here and this isn’t the post I had planned for the first one of 2018. But today marks the death anniversary of my maternal grandfather and in a couple days a similar anniversary will be observed for the death of my father’s brother’s wife. I miss them both so much, even years on. But I don’t miss them nearly as much as I love them. Here’s my attempt at explaining why….

If you’ve ever watched the movie Practical Magic (I have a hundred times) you’ll recall when the parents of the newest generation of witches were outta the picture, they (the newest generation, Sally and Jillian) went to live with The Aunts. As the young girls were being welcomed by the aunts, one of the aunts – in an effort to introduce some levity to the sad situation the girls were in – advises them of some of the rules of the house which include things like never brushing your teeth and having chocolate before dinner. Anything a kid might like to hear.

All gay jokes and age jokes aside, my home is a bit like the aunts’ home. I’m definitely an auntie – I mean… at least in spirit. My home is not as rustic or earthy as the one inhabited by the family of witches, but the spirit here is no different: We do what we want, when we want, however we want, and we may well call it whatever we wish. Under my roof, Death is no exception.

I bet you weren’t expecting the last paragraph to end with that statement, were you? In so many homes (and hearts and minds), Death is ONLY a bringer of sorrow and pain. In those homes and hearts and minds, Death ONLY separates us from those we loved while they were living. And in those homes and hearts and minds, Death might additionally mean other unfortunate things like familial rifts, unexpected skeletons popping out of the family’s closet, the burden of the shift of financial debts, etc… And in my home Death still governs things like that.

But in my home Death is also a friend. It hasn’t always been this way, but over the last decade or so my relationship with Death has evolved extensively. Anytime Death comes near, there will probably be pain and I think no amount of personal development or esoteric evolution will ever change that. As far as all that is concerned, I find peace in surrender. I let the initial sting of Death be felt. It needs to be felt. But like any other sting, whether from the snap of a rubber band or from an angry scorpion, to stretch that stinging feeling out is very unwise, never mind unhealthy. In my home we allow that sting. We experience it and then we let the sting subside when it wants to. Neither the living nor the dead benefit from misery stretched out beyond what is natural.

But there’s more. Death, for all the sad it brings, can bring as much joy. Death is Birth’s only dance partner and in fact the two have an insanely strong and romantic relationship. Everything that is born must die. It’s as natural as a bird’s song or the dawn’s light and it should be celebrated – and in my home that’s what we do.

I think we intrinsically know this and because of that knowing (as well as some dumb religious influences) whenever someone passes on you will always hear some lame, trite fool state, “Oh – he’s in a better place now. He’s not hurting anymore….” But you’d never know that – the way some people wail and moan for ages after the death event. Either we’re totally bullshitting ourselves or else somewhere deepest inside our being we understand that the dead loved one now knows peace and stillness and absolute release.

Miss your dearly departed – miss the hell out of them! Be sad at their passing at first, if you need to be. Sift your way through whatever quagmire they left with all the tears and swear words you feel necessary to get the job done. But then make friends with Death and be as glad as is natural to you – the one you mourn is better off than they ever have been! The one you mourn is now closer to you than EVER before – and will always be that close!

And that’s how Death brings undeniable joy to us. If I love you – if I REALLY love you – then nothing can mean deeper joy than seeing you be free from pain and suffering and life’s hardships. If I REALLY love you, then for you to finally be closer to me than you ever have been before is a source of joy. This is the dance that Life and Death do together and while it’s surely bittersweet, the sweet part is SO sweet. It’s only because of Death that we usually will see a chance to truly celebrate life – or at least the life lived by those we love. We’re doing so much harm to ignore that.

In my home, we honor Death and the times it came nearer. We observe Pitru Paksha not once a year but on every friend’s or family member’s death anniversary – because that’s how we want to observe it. We light little lamps fueled by butter. We fragrance my home with incense. While remembering them so dearly, we sing to and for those who now more fully live inside our hearts. And we dance a little, too. Sometimes we dance for our dearly departed. Sometimes we dance for Death. And the love from our loved ones always makes us smile.

Shanti, shanti, shanti-hi!

Aum Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti



One response to “Deading Dance

  1. You write so beautifully, and you have expressed what I feel about death. The deaths of my mom and my two sisters were releases from pain and suffering, not occasions for mourning. I miss them, but their memories are always strong in me.

    Liked by 1 person

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