The recent passing away of my grandmother made me reflect on death. I realised that in reflecting on death I was simultaneously reflecting on life. Life and death are related. Contradictions and ambiguity are part of life. Death is as much part of the process of life as life itself.
Death might feel like one big loss or like a door that shuts in your face. However, if we can sit in the mystery and stay with the process it can open doors to new discoveries. Denise Ackerman beautifully writes that ‘holding the tensions of opposites in our lives can open doors to a new acceptance of things the way they are.’ Life is not just about focusing on the light or being positive all the time.
We experience death in all aspects of our lives. Whether it is the death of someone close, a relationship, a dream, a career, a business, it is important that we use death to pause and allow ourselves to mourn. In the mourning many questions may arise of which some can be answered and others not.
If we can accept that life is lived within this ambiguity of what we think we know and what we do not know, then it becomes easier to let that what is dead go. Part of the suffering lies in the not accepting and holding on. Before we can inhale we need to exhale. We need to put a period at the end of a sentence before we can start a new one.
The following wisdom of Augustine comforts me in times when I struggle with the questions of life:
Let us, you and I, lay aside all arrogance
Let neither of us pretend to have found the truth
Let us seek it as something unknown to both of us
Then we may seek it with love and sincerity
When neither of us has the rashness
Nor the presumption to believe that he already possesses it…
I do not pretend to understand.
Learning: Make time to mourn what is lost and grow in the ambiguity of life.
Healing questions: How can I learn to live with the ambiguity and questions of life?