Embracing death as a joyous event

As a society, we are very identified with our physical body, but is this all that we are? Are we confined to our physical body or is there more to us than that?

Few people take the time to feel that we also have an ‘inner being’, the true ‘I’ or ‘me’, which we can feel when we connect to a deep place within – our inner-most. Once this has been felt, there can be no denying its existence.

However, most people are so caught up in the daily busy-ness and emotions of life that they do not allow themselves the time to take a stop moment and feel the body they are so identified with! And, even if they do, their ‘inner-being’ is so buried under the multitude of ideals and beliefs that they have taken on throughout all phases of their life, that it is not so easily accessible.

As we age and the pace of life slows down, we begin to review our life and realise that many of the ideals and beliefs we have are simply not true, and that we can go through a process of gradually discarding them. If we are open to healing, the process of discarding what we have taken on that is not in-truth us can be accelerated. In our elder years most of us have seen much in life and there is nothing that can surprise us anymore, so as we age we can become less reactive.

Hence, in our older years it becomes easier to access our ‘inner-being’ and to gradually live more and more from this place – to continually check-in with our body and listen to what it is telling us.

As we do this we become increasingly aware that the connection to and quality of our ‘inner being’ is not dependent on how our ‘physical being’ (body) feels.

There is no question that as we age, our physical body gradually deteriorates and that this happens in different ways for different people. There are many in their nineties who are still vital and active and others in their sixties who are no longer independent.

My friends and I talk about and question why we feel more joyful in our sixties and seventies: we agreed that it is because we are no longer solely defined by the physical body. Yes, our physical body may show signs of deterioration and we may have niggling pains here and there; our faces may now be wrinkled and our breasts sagging, but we are not identified by that. The ageing process has not only made it easier for us to connect more deeply to our ‘inner-being’ but to develop our ‘inner being’ such that it slowly becomes what defines us, rather than our physical body.

We have embraced the physical changes and although we still give attention to how we look and how we dress, we are more aware that our physicality is not ‘the essential me’. The ‘inner being’ is pure love and hence holds all the qualities of love – harmony, stillness, truth and joy. Quite simply, the more we can live from our ‘inner being’, the more we have joy in our life. It is as simple as that.

As we gradually lose our identification with the physical body and realise that we are so much more than our physicality – and so much more than this one life – we come to see the body as an outer-garb, like a coat that we put on at birth and discard at death.

We also get the sense that we have been through the cycle of putting on and taking off our coat many times before, although few have memory of the process.

Although we eventually discard our coat, that is not to say that we do not treasure it while we are wearing it. The physical body is the vehicle that we use to express through in this life and as we are all Sons of God, the physical body is the vehicle that allows us to represent God on earth. Thus, whether one believes in God or not, it is our responsibility to love, nurture and care for our physical body to the best of our ability until our last breath and to treat the body as though it were a baby or young child we are carrying around. We would never abuse a young child yet we all go through life treating the body in disregard on many occasions!

There are people who are very attached to their ‘coat’, so much so that they believe that they are their coat, and they are very fearful of what may happen when it comes time to take it off!

As we live our entire life in our coat, the coat will carry the wears and tears of life – the consequences of our choices and the quality of the life we have lived. This will determine the ease or otherwise with which we can disrobe at the moment of death.

The quality of our coat at the moment of death will also be what determines the quality of our coat in our next life – the threads of the coat we are discarding are available to weave our coat for our next incarnation – ‘as we die, so we live’.

It is never too late to make changes in our life, to make more loving choices, to darn and patch our coat so that it is easier to slip off when the time comes.

It is never too late to deepen our connection with our ‘inner being’, to celebrate the joy that naturally follows and to embrace the sense of our immortality – that we are more than this one life.

When we do both these things, we can embrace death as a joyful event and an opportunity to upgrade our wardrobe. And who would not welcome a beautiful new coat!

"While I thought that I was learning how to live, I have been learning how to die."

Leonardo da Vinci

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Human bodyDeathAgeing

  • By Anne McRitchie, BA; UTS Fellow

  • Photography: Dean Whitling, Brisbane based photographer and film maker of 13 years.

    Dean shoots photos and videos for corporate portraits, architecture, products, events, marketing material, advertising & website content. Dean's philosophy - create photos and videos that have magic about them.