The Whole of Death
By Irah, Feb 23 2015 06:58PM
I was speaking with a friend the other day about the death of her father. His death came suddenly and he was cremated to her surprise rather than buried as was their family custom. She shared that she wanted to speak with him, needed to connect to him again, but had no gravesite to visit. She longed to hear his voice again. We spoke about how they traveled together in her youth, how they loved to ski together and spend time by the ocean. I suggested that she find a spot similar to their favorite destinations and dedicate that space to private moments of reconnection with her father. She could think of him, speak to him and be receptive to hearing his well known voice emerge from her own memory. I shared with her that their closeness in life, their many conversations and years together, left her with a vast knowledge of him. She could speak with him again in this way. It would be a form of meditation: the taking of a comfortable seat, the slowing of the mind and breath as she sat in a private spot on the beach focused upon the sound of waves and wind. She would access him as her daily thoughts and activities faded into the background and all that remained was the movement of her breath, the beating of her heart and memories of her father. Then he could speak to her, to arise from her own heart into the sacred space that she created for them.
As we spoke, the conversation shifted to our own mortality, to fear of the unknown, to the lack of control that is inherent in eventual death. How do we accept the ending of ourselves? I began to think about the earth that we are laid into. “Ashes to ashes we all fall down,” her little girls chanted a few days earlier as we walked around our self made circle. We are all coping with eventual death, whether consciously or not. Eating an organic living foods diet is another way of coping, a way of prolonging life certainly, but also a way to near the reality of death in a self-loving, earth-honoring way.
An interesting thing happens when you nourish yourself with living organic foods. Watching the thirst of seedlings become quenched with water when they’re soaked, extend roots when they’re sprouted and ultimately secure those roots into organic vegan soil and grow is no small thing. You watch the process unfold and put your hands in it. You feel connected in a very visceral way to the food that enters your body. You feel connected to the soil, filtered water and natural salts that feed the life you help nurture. You become a tangible part of nature as you eat the food you’ve nourished into growth. You begin to love the earth and water from which all things grow. Our inevitable lying down one day into the earth becomes a tender moment of release into the land that now feeds us. This connection, this intimacy comes when you connect to the live organic food, to the sprout, to the leaf, to the root vegetable. When these foods become your primary source of sustenance you are deeply connected to the ashes from which you come and to the ashes to which you return. From this level of organic raw living, when the time comes, death is less of a fall and more of a gentle lying down.
My grandfather passed not too long ago and while I have many memories of him, one in particular stands out. Once in a while, when we would sit together, he would mention how awe-inspiring a rose is. He would visualize it and bring his fingers up in front of him as if he held one in his hand. “Can you believe it?” he used to ask, “From this tiny little seed comes this beautiful, fragrant, fragile thing.” Then he would put down the imaginary rose, look at me, and say, “But where does the seed come from?” I think now of our own DNA, of our own seeds and beginnings and of the bio-photons, the energy particles, that are found within it and within all living things. I think of the foods that have the highest amounts of bio-photons: organic sprouts, vegetables, fruits and edible flowers, freshly harvested. It’s as if we get a glimpse of our beginnings. I will not attempt to explain the origin of existence. I will leave that to our Rabbis, Priests, Imams, Nuns, Monks, and scientists. I will say that we are all given the opportunity to connect deeply to it, to the origin of things and to our ability to act upon it. In our capacity to connect to this reality, death becomes visible, but not threatening. It becomes a part of the whole.
Thank you for writing this post. Death is never an easy topic to talk about, or read about, for that matter. Your post left me with surprising feelings of warmth. I love the idea about finding a spot for private reflection and recollection with the memories of a deceased loved one. I'm going to try that. The relation of living foods to our eventual return to the soil was also something I hadn't really considered, but it makes total sense! And, beautiful story about your grandpa and the rose.
My pleasure, Claire. I’m so glad that you felt the kindness in my words while reading about such a difficult topic. You really captured the essence of my blog and that is that even in the greatest of pain there can also be comfort. Enjoy your moment with your loved one who has passed. I hope it brings you back to the intimacy you shared. Yes, my grandpa, he was truly special. Thank you for reading my blog and about him.