Wow, these past few days, news outlets have been reporting the deaths of several high-profile people from suicide, accident and illness. Deaths that have included people young and older, but none that would have been expected because they were a suicide, weird accident or someone we would consider way too young to be dying from disease or illness.
My spiritual practice over a span of four decades has taught me (and millions of others) that we choose our manner and time of death. While there can be different exit points throughout our life, it is the final one we must respect as what any person chooses as the way and time that is right for them to end their physical existence on this planet. At any age.
So, no problem adopting this idea, especially where a person’s death is by and large expected. And it is certainly easier when we haven’t been impacted by the unexpected death of a loved one. But when we have? There must be a complete recalibration of our thought process and beliefs as we try to understand what just happened. As in, what just happened?? As in when when my daughter died by suicide in 2005 at the age of twenty-two.
Do we know when we are going to die?
I’ve long held the belief that we must know on an innate level when we are going to die. Or, at least we have a vague sense that we might not be on this planet past a certain timeframe. Many parents of children who have died have found evidence of this, me included.
It was also evident looking back, when my mom suddenly died six months after both my sister and I saw a drastic change in her demeanour. She started to make arrangements that I now recognize as end of life. Though we didn’t see this then, we did think it strange when she asked both of us if we would take this or that of her belongings and told us of the arrangements she’d made for her pets. Nothing at the time had alerted us to any health issue she was dealing with that would suggest it could be terminal.
I was shocked when only a few months later she was gone. While she had landed in emergency to treat a heart problem that we all expected (doctors included) should have been treatable, she was dead a month after that, dying suddenly at home after calling me at work one afternoon to what I’m sure now, was her good-bye call. That conversation, while still not enough to alarm me that something wasn’t right, I remember thinking of as also a bit strange. I discovered she died an hour later. (I’ve always been grateful for that call!)
While I had no problem accepting my mom had chosen the cause and timing of her death, and I feel the same about the many other deaths we’ve had in the family before and since then, when it comes to my daughter, I still balk at the idea looking through the spiritual lens that she chose to go and in the right and perfect timing that was meant to be for her. For all of us left behind. A manner that despite it being obvious it was a choice (suicide), from a spiritual perspective the cause and manner is irrelevant. Yet, I have found both to be extremely difficult to accept, even all these years later.
As much as not one of us wants anyone we love to go before us, there are some deaths we expect to occur before us due to someone having lived a good long life. Yet, through the spiritual lens, we are meant to understand that the cause and manner of any loved one’s death should not be the focus or something that we give our entire lives to understanding. Rather, it’s to accept that they have completed what they came to earth to do and now are gone, in their own timing and way that is not up to us to question. Which is easier said than done with some loss.
I’d dare say that many people who have experienced unbearable loss would have given just about anything to be the one to have gone first. Especially when those of us who have experienced devastating loss know what grief can be like.
As for exit points, maybe you can recall some of your own close calls that you still feel lucky to be here. I have a clear vision of nearly drowning when I was four years old. I still remember how peaceful it felt, though I could not understand why the man sitting at the edge of the pool beside me wasn’t pulling me out (I can still remember looking at the calves of his legs underwater). My mom saw me go in and pulled me out probably within seconds, though at four years old, I wasn’t conscious of the time. I’ve had two more close calls since then. (I’m not sure how many exit points we have.)
As for my daughter, when she was nine, she was nearly hit by a car while crossing the street on her bike when she shouldn’t have. I was on the sidelines screaming my lungs out, sure she had been hit. To this day, I still feel that the angels carried her to the other side. It was as if the car had gone right through her. I never forgot the incident. Today, I can see this as one possible exit point. The excessive worry I felt for her throughout much of her life perhaps was because I knew at some innate level, I wasn’t going to have her forever.
I almost don’t like to say this, because then it means I am admitting that maybe I can one day accept my daughter’s death the same as every other one, but I do really believe that we all make the choice to leave this planet in the way and time that we are meant to go.
I don’t really believe we die if it isn’t our time to go. I think the hardest thing about death is accepting that we have been the one who’s decided to stick around and deal with all the lessons and the growth that arises from our grief.
For more info on meditations and books: vonnesolis.com.