Last week, I was sitting at the bar of the Publik House in East Burke, having my weekly cocktail and burger. My husband and I try to get out for ‘date night’, weekly. We are predictable. We generally eat at the same place, sit at the bar, and I have a tendency to get the same thing (not because I am boring, but because my list of food allergies/intolerances is quite extensive).
While we were eating, we got on the subject of death and dying, something that may not be common dinner conversation for most, but than again I’m not like most people. I talk about death a lot!
The conversation was about the act of dying itself. My husband was talking about how he believed he would eventually die from something like the flu, or some other weird illness. As he took a drink of his beer, he went on to say that it was probably a better way to die then most…a bit of high-temperature, delirium, and a slow fade into death. This led to a list of all the less then pleasant ways that people could pass, to which he added massive accident to the top of the list.
In theory, I could understand this belief, as often the bodies of people who die such a fashion, are dramatically damaged, and people who have lost loved ones in such a manner are often scarred by the memory of what happened to their loved ones body. The belief many live with is that their loved one suffered horrendously. But in fact, it is often not the case.
One of the things I have learned from the Dead, is that older Spirits; people who have incarnated many time, have a tendency to jump-ship at the moment of impact. Their previous lifetimes of dying, having prepared them for how to leave the body quickly. With their death imminent, they do not stick around for the pain, they choose instead to step outside their body, and experience their death from the perspective of the observer.
Time and time again, Spirits I have communicated with; who have passed tragically, will tell me how they stood beside their body, as emergency technicians tended to them. Some speak of standing vigil with their body until someone found it. Some speak of being in a coma, watching and waiting as their body went through the act of dying. They stress the fact that they did not suffer, that they were ejected from their body almost instantaneously on impact, and often talk about the people who were around them; both medical personnel and loved ones.
Years ago, during the Ovate year of my Druid training, I explored my own death. We did this by doing journey-work/guided meditation to first imagine we had a year to live, then a month, a day, and finally we were sitting at the moment of death. We were looking to see how we would choose to experience death. Later during the same weekend, we dug our own graves, and were placed ceremonially into the Earth…sleeping in our graves, we spent the night with whatever emotions came to call. As powerful of an experience as this was, it was in many ways easy for me, as I have had a deep/personal relationship with death my whole life.
However, about a month or so after the death weekend (sleeping in my grave), I was pulling out of a busy intersection with my son. He had been trying to listen to his music on the stereo, but for some reason nothing was coming out. As we pulled out of the intersection, the radio came on, blaring music. In that moment I was so shocked that my spirit stepped out of my body. I hovered above myself for a brief moment, long enough to think…”Oh shit! We were just hit by a car, I must be dead.” I was not in distress, I simply believed that my death had come for me. My next thought was “Well, that’s that, I hope Kaolin (my son) is OK”.
Seconds later, I realized I was not dead, and settled back nicely into my body.
That moment has stuck with me for years now, my mind going back to it over and over again, when I meet with families who have lost their loved ones due to tragic accidents. I know now, that I too would step quickly out of my body, if faced with such tragedy. Hell, I will most likely jump out of my body if there is too much discomfort, let alone immanent death.
I find that death is often misunderstood, and rightfully so. We don’t get a rule book, or even much of a way of an agenda. None of us know when or how we or the ones we love are going to pass. Death can come for us at any moment. I suppose that is why people can be so troubled by it. When left to nothing but our imaginations, the stories we can come up with are vast, and generally a lot worse than reality. We humans have been living and dying for a long, long time now, and we have learned a thing or two about it, even if we don’t seem to remember the process. For those who have lost someone tragically, I hope these words can be of some comfort. Knowing that the ones we love passed in peace, is something we all hope for.