I’m starting to suspect a lot of people use the terms dying and death interchangeably, or link them so closely together in their minds that they can’t easily discriminate between the two. At least subconsciously. I suppose that’s to be expected, considering neither of them are things we talk about much. Let’s face it, anything unfortunate enough to tumble into the closed pit of taboo topics is destined to collect a lot of misunderstanding.
But this particular area of confusion intrigues me more than most because it’s hard to find two things more different than dying and death. Exactly how different are they? Polar opposite different. World’s apart different. Different as in “If you had a choice of which one you wanted to be at this very moment, which would you pick?” different.
Death is dead. Dying is still very, very much alive.
In fact, it may well be one of the most alive periods we get over an entire lifetime of being alive. I think this is a very, very important point to remember because, startling though it may seem, dying can be easy to miss.
(Not dead…dead is unmistakable. Dying can be easy to miss. See what your mind did there?)
With the current medical paradigm focused primarily on cure, we can spend so much time fighting not to die that we wind up going straight from being sick to being dead, thereby missing the peculiar and healing light of the world of dying that lies in between those two. We can miss both the chance to realize Oh wow…this is it. I’m dying now….as well as the gift that comes from spending the rest of our days in that final place where life first collapses, and then supernovas into Life itself.
So if there was only one piece of advice I could pass along it would be this: Don’t close your eyes. Don’t condition yourself to denial and blindness. Because, for all their power to transform and heal, the miracles at the end of life are delicate, twinkling, and brief and, if you’re not alert enough to look for them, they can be very, very easy to miss.
copyright Dia Osborn 2010