Three years ago today, I faced death in the face. Today’s post is in honor of my dad, whose 3rd yartzeit is today, the 21st of Sivan on the hebrew calendar; 27th of June on regular calendar. I think we all carry a fear of losing someone we love. That was definitely a big fear of mine when my dad got sick. But somehow the day of his death wasn’t scary at all; it was actually magical and awe inspiring. Watching a human being, my dad, a vibrant, fiery, wickedly passionate, full of life human being, take his final breath and rest eternally, forever was quite peaceful. Perhaps, because I’ve shed enough tears at his bedside prior to his death praying for a miracle, perhaps it’s the tools I’ve learned in the last few years studying reiki and shamanic energy healing that gave me an appreciation for death which I accept is a natural pattern of life, perhaps it was having my mom and siblings by my side every step of the way – we were glued in this together, perhaps it was the short day trip that my brother and I took to my home in CA when times looked bleak in NY a week before my dad’s death to rejuvenate and renew ourselves before the final blow, perhaps it was the fact that we all got together for my dad’s last (70th) birthday in March or our last holiday with him in June (Shavuot ’16)….all these things probably contributed to the strength I felt that day, to not let the fragility of death consume me.
I was also lucky because
I had time to say goodbye. I had spent the last month of his life at his bedside which as exhausting, bleak and difficult as it was at the time, I feel is such a blessing and the biggest comfort; and my heart goes out to anyone who has experienced a sudden loss with no time to say goodbye. As hard as illness is, having that time to hold your loved ones hand, sit in silence, watch them, tell them how much they inspire you, thank them for all they’ve done for you, maybe even discuss any misunderstandings you’ve had with them during their lifetime, cuz who doesn’t – we’re all human and we all make mistakes, even parents who try their best; all these things bring tremendous comfort to the mourners when their loved one is gone. It gives you closure and there’s no price tag on that.
We have two options with death after we allow ourselves enough time to grieve the loss, which is an essential and necessary part of the healing process. The first option which I see very often, and I write this without judgement, is to hold on to the past. Hold on to the one we loved, wishing everyday they’d be with us. Reminiscing with longing on every birthday and holiday, thinking that if only they’d still be here we’d be better off, and feeling like life sucks without them. There’s a tinge of sadness and depression and feeling stuck. The second option is to use death as an opportunity to grow and for rebirth to take place*. Death gives us the ability to shed the old self and give birth to something new. That doesn’t mean that by moving on you forget your loved one. You never will. It means accepting death as a part of life. Taking the memories of the past, holding it, cherishing it, appreciating it; but instead of longing for it to come back, use death as an opportunity to leap forward and to grow. That’s the approach I chose to take. I’ll never get my father back, but he lives with me everyday and when I need him, he’s there. I can talk to him anytime even if he doesn’t answer back, and he’ll appear to me in a vision or in a dream sometimes when I least expect it, perhaps with a message that I need.
Beyond physical death, there’s a more important lesson I want to share here that I think even if you haven’t lost someone special, you’ll be able to appreciate and relate to.
Death happens daily, in every part of our lives. Sometimes it’s a tragic physical death of someone we love. Sometimes it’s a death of a marriage or a dating relationship that we thought and hoped would work (which I went through this winter, and it’s tough). No type of death can be sugar coated or is easy to get through. Some experience the death of a business they had hoped would thrive, a death of a dream house that fell through, a death of a preschool or high school your kids grew up in that you have to say goodbye to because they’re graduating, a temporary death of the figure you used to have or the youth and vibrancy you used to carry (which emotional death can bring on because it affects every part of your life).
Death comes to us in many forms, but it’s what we do with the lessons after we grieve the loss that matters, and makes the most difference in our lives and the lives of those around us.
It’s comfortable and comforting to hold on. It really is. Holding on to the past, dreaming of what could have been if the death didn’t take place is like getting to the top of a mountain wondering which way to go. You’re stuck. The life you once knew suddenly stands still and comes to a screeching halt. Perhaps a new opportunity awaits, but is unknown and scary and definitely can’t be seen from this side of the mountain. So now, which way will you go? Will you choose to go back down to what’s familiar, or will you accept that the past will not come back in the exact same way as it once was and jump forward with the gift of the past memories and lessons in your hand, as you leap off that mountain to the unknown for a new opportunity that will help you sprinkle the lifeless emotions you may feel, and bring them back to life, in a different form.
Usually the most painful lessons inspire the most growth. It’s hard to see it in the moment, but trust that with time, the rays will shine through and illuminate the dark.
Now I have a question for you.
What death have you been through recently? Are you still holding on to what could have been? Are you still holding on to the dream of the life you loved and wanted to stay in forever, or the life you thought you may have, had the death not taken place? Can I inspire you and ask you that when you’re done grieving, to send love and appreciation to what was, send love to what could have been, and thank the universe for sending you that experience to help you let go of the old, that no longer serves you, and embrace something new.
There’s always something special waiting for you on the other side of pain, when you choose to get off that wheel of what was, and surrender to a new reality.
To my dad, Menachem Meir Hakohen Blau, the fierce, unbashful, unapologetic, life and giant of our home, we will never be the same without you, but you are always in our hearts helping us grow. You were my first health teacher, with all of your health idiosyncrasies and knowledge, your rapidly changing diets with every new health fad, the air filters, the colloidal silver, the vitamin C you made us take before school each day, you had the cure for everything, earning your nick name in our home of Dr. Blau. You had us listen on road trips to all those seemingly boring (as a kid at least) Gary Null “tapes”, ahh how you would have loved living in this modern podcast world, hell you’d probably have made your own podcast by now cuz you were the pioneer podcaster in the 90s via your phone line reporting all the things in the hood that you were passionate about (and we rolled our eyes at). You gave us the most incredible gift of resilience, strength and positivity together with Ma; even when times were tough, and you guys had many of those times, yet you trucked along with faith and courage and got through every obstacle with new strength and new abilities. I realize even more after your death what an amazing influence you were on all of us and I thank you for being the leader of our tribe and giving us the best life you were capable of.
I choose to take the gifts of the past to leap forward, and grow everyday; sprinkling life and joy on to death and pain, and use your resilience and passion to illuminate dark times or situations and bring them back to light and feel RENEWED.
If you’re going through a death if any kind, think about it’s message and how it can help you REBIRTH to a new you, a new idea, a new business, a new life, a new love, a new path. Are you gonna fight it or embrace it? I’ll leave you to make that choice.
Lots of love,
* ps…if anyone reading this suffered the loss of a child or of a loved one at a really young age, that’s beyond my comprehension and reasoning. A pain so deep, I can’t even imagine your loss and grief and I bet you’re doing your best no matter what approach you take to cope and get up everyday. This article was not written for you, but, if you got this far and there’s something you took from it, great. I can’t and won’t try to reason or understand such a cruel death. I’m sorry you had to experience that and sending you so much love.