Yesterday my family and I got the news that one of my greatest uncles passed away. He was 81 years old, a beautiful hardworking successful man who was the foundation of the entire Sammour family. We were (and still) deeply saddened by his death and I felt so grateful that I got to see him on Christmas when I was visiting my family for the last time.
My uncle’s passing brought up really good points for me to reflect on:
- I realized how sheltered the American society is from death whereas my family who resides in Lebanon, are very exposed to death. For example last week, my brother lost one of his closest friends at the age of 43 and this week he lost an uncle. My family attend funerals sometimes once a month but they also attend weddings often. Yet, they all seem very accepting of death even though they are grieving – it is part of their every day life since almost everyone knows everyone else in Lebanon and they are all there for each other for better or for worse which is something that I find heavily lacking in the States: We are a very individualized society that is focused on career first, social life/community second where as it is the opposite in most foreign countries.
- We live in a society that rejects death. We are even afraid of bringing it up, of discussing it, of reflecting on it, and truly embracing it as part of life.
It’s true – death is scary because we don’t remember how it is like to be dead. If you believe in past life, then you probably know that you’re an expert at dying and being dead since you and I have done it million of times. But still this doesn’t make it easier because we don’t remember dying and being dead. It is very scary and as a society we are trained to burry the fear and numb it with food, shopping, weed, xanax, SSRI and so on. Why go through the pain when we can distract ourselves from experiencing it?
However, we also forget that there is a big difference between pain and sadness:
Sadness is so soft and breaks your heart open to more love and compassion. It shows you how much you loved that person. It is a pure expression of love in my opinion.
Pain is very sharp. It gets you stuck in a victimhood mentality. It feels as if we are out of control and the whole world wants to hurt us or against us. It gets us to think: why me? Why did you abandon me? Why is God doing this to me?
Pain occurs when we don’t accept “what is” such as “death”. Therefore, death becomes extremely painful for our society. We’d rather live in denial then acceptance of death. We’d rather distract ourselves then experience the loss and the emotions that flood when we lose a loved one because we are more trained in building a successful business and having a great education than being trained in dealing, understand and embracing our feelings (in other words feelings are a sign of weakness when the opposite is totally true).
I mentioned in few articles before that I began experiencing fear of loss ever since I reached 30 (I’m almost 34 now). There is no day that goes by that I don’t think about death. I think about myself dying and about my loved ones dying too. It started off as being too painful to experience and now it is becoming a very sad experience but the pain moved away.
For some people this is a very negative view about life – but for me it has taught me so much about embracing life because how else could I experience life fully if I don’t embrace death fully?
It is our thoughts about death that make things painful and not death itself. It is our perception about ourselves without the people we love that is so painful. It is not allowing ourselves to feel what we feel in terms of sadness and grief that get us stuck in pain. We are so terrified of feeling sadness that we block ourselves completely from feeling anything and we live in denial that ONE day we are going to die, ONE day…someone we love is going to die and we are going to go through this whether we like it or not.
Yet, practicing death on regular basis and facing the feelings of loss have changed my life tremendously. I am not an expert at embracing death yet – it is still something I fear and I wish sometimes that things never change but I also know that God is the energy of Life and Life is changing in every second so for me to live life fully, I must allow change to happen. Sometimes I forget that when I’m afraid of losing someone, but I always go back to remembering the truth.
“Everything is changeable, everything appears and disappears; there is no blissful peace until one passes beyond the agony of life and death.” – Buddha
Rejecting the notion of death, denying it or avoiding it keep us so small in life and most of all keep us from getting to know who we really are and expressing our purpose. For me, practicing death and realizing that I’m mortal on regular basis changed my life in the following way:
- I began questioning whether or not I like the person I am and what kind of person do I want to be in this life?
- I cleared my conscious – I asked forgiveness from people I have hurt
- I became way more honest with myself about the reality of things – instead of masking my fear or denying it – I now face it (especially when I’m conscious of it)
- I built a better relationship with my husband and continue to do so
- I began facing my fear of abandonment in a much mature and logical way (instead of letting it take over my relationships – I began taking over it)
- I am much more emotionally intimate with my family – I open up so easily compared to before even if it was uncomfortable
- I learned emotional self-reliance especially after my Ayahuasca experience. I know that this journey is for me – my experience of being born in life was my own, my experience of dying is my own and same for living. No one can see life through my consciousness (awareness) – no one will see death through my eyes when I’m dying or after my death. So, if this experience is for us alone to experience, then why not start relying on yourself?
- I became so much more compassionate especially with people who are experiencing hurt, loss and negative feelings.
- I’m much less judgmental and began to question ALL my thoughts SERIOUSLY
- I don’t let myself get away with my mistakes – I say: I’m sorry way more often than before and most importantly I correct my mistakes – it’s easier to take responsability for myself than to prove to the other person who is right or wrong
- I’m a little bit less attached to my body and I have a deep awareness that I’m not my body either. Sometimes this freak me out but it’s also pretty cool at least it is for me because it gets me to investigate my spiritual being more
- On the other hand, I also respect my body more and how I treat myself because I know I need this body to do what I came here to do
- I also choose carefully who I want to have around me – I’m much better at saying NO and setting boundaries
- I’m much more present in my every day life and I’m more intentional as well
- It’s so important for me to feel at peace with myself than to be right or better
- I’m a better listener because I am curious about people’s experiences – maybe I could learn something from it?
- I became so much kinder – I make sure to do act of kindness on regular basis (I volunteer twice a month and do things for people around me and even strangers that I was too busy to do before because I was focused on success)
- I began questioning and SERIOUSLY investigating: who am I? Who am I without my body? Who am I without the people around me? Who am I without my religion and spirituality?
- This led me to investigate even deeper: What do I believe about Life? Death? God? – This will be my on going journey
- I began investigating life after death way more – it helps me face my fear of death since I’m exposing myself more to it – I study it more, read more about it and reflect on it especially that I’m carrying a beautiful baby girl, I always tell myself – when I die, I’ll go to where my baby came from so therefore I’m a little less afraid of it.
- I play with the idea that maybe sleeping is very similar to death – therefore I practice death every time I go to sleep
All of the above points are and will always be in progress. This is a journey and there’s no one day fix to anything. Life is like the ocean with strong waves, calm waves and stillness at the bottom. I’m not telling you this to brag about myself – I still have SO much work to do and again it is a process. I’m sharing this with you hoping that maybe this will help you start seeing the possibility of what could come from the feeling of loss – what could come from death itself.
“Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.” – Thessalonians 4:13-14
I invite you to start talking about death often. I invite you to investigate death. I invite you to welcome the feeling of loss often. To look at yourself in the mirror and say: One day, I’ll die – this body will be gone (this body will be gone but your consciousness is eternal). I invite you to realize and remember that people around you, your pets and everything that surround you will be gone one day whether you go first or they go first. Yes, it is extremely sad to experience this and feel it so let yourself feel it and the more you do the more you’ll come to terms with it. Even visualize your own death and the death of others. When you begin to accept this part of life, you will learn to enjoy life fully. You’ll begin to make different decisions and choose your words and actions carefully. You’ll stop taking life for granted a bit less because we all know that we all take LIFE for granted and by taking LIFE for granted we take GOD for granted as well.
In memory of my uncle and everyone who passed,
We love you!