Why Death Doesn’t Scare Me… (It might not be what you think!)

Photo by: Jonathan Trout

I almost died when I was eight years old. The experience was one of resignation. I had gotten really sick. Nobody, in the whole country of Denmark, could figure out what was wrong with me. Nothing showed up on tests. And as they kept testing, I just kept losing weight. I could not eat. My legs stopped working and I lost my ability to walk – and eventually I was unable to even sit up in my bed. At the hospital they put me in isolation. And there I was; drifting in and out of consciousness, floating between realities. Most of the time I was in an alternate reality, which I found to be a peaceful place. I was still in this world of flesh, yet I had a sense of something much more “real” was just “across the way”. I did float out of my body on occasion. I had no major sights or experiences other than seeing the room, I was in,  from different vantage points. I had no visitations or voices come to me, yet I felt at peace and completely safe. Death did not even occur to me. I was in a place “between realities” and found the experience reassuring. It was as if my extra-sensory apparatus got enhanced as my bodily functions dwindled. And I did not care about pain. They stuck a big fat needle in my spine at one point to retrieve some spinal fluid without any kind of anesthesia. And it was just fine with me. It felt unreal. It felt as if my body was experiencing pain, but I was free of it. I could not be hurt or even care. I was ready to transcend all earthly pain and pettiness; I was ready to float away.

A nurse, who was assigned to be my caretaker, penetrated my bubble. She literally broke through my protecting barrier by lowering the metal bars around my bed. She sat down unceremoniously at the foot of my bed and started reading to me. As she read aloud, her soft, chime-like voice enveloped me like a supple blanket of sweetness. She read simple stories of love and heroism. Not the stories of “good literature”, my mother preferred, but novels from the Danish Women’s Magazines. The nurse gave me her un-divided attention. She brought me saucers with a few cookies and soda in a tiny metal cup. I had not wanted to eat food – but the orange soda and the cookies got my attention! She literally managed to get me engaged in trying to stay alive through her little spoonfuls of sugar! Never underestimate the power of well-timed and well-presented simple carbohydrates and easily digested pop literature! And her uncomplicated and ever-present care for me gave me enough reason to believe life here on earth might be worth living. Her undemanding company and emotional presence healed me. Her simple joi de vivre gave me the will to force myself back into this reality. She gave me a view of a way of life that allowed a lightness of being.

Since then life has been a choice for me. I choose to be here, and I also choose to make the most of it! The early brush with death taught me that the true value of my life is Joy, Love and Celebration. These are the values that I have sought to fill my life with, and to be a conduit of for others. In retrospect it seems to me that my “checking out early” was an avoidance maneuver for me. It was as if there was a more suitable place for me to be in the after-life, and only through the reminder of connectedness, made manifest in human love and compassion, joy and celebration, I was able to choose the plight of earthly life. We all know the elements that make the human condition a real hassle: The pain of birth, the heartaches, the disappointments, the terror of ownership, the fear of poverty, loss and the fear of death to name a few! Taking on human life includes the willingness to be the tossed on the waves of circumstance. Not at all an attractive a choice, if you have had a glimpse of what it might be like on the other side! However, I also feel that the human condition is uniquely shaped to demonstrate that Creation is what we make of it; that our consciousness shapes our reality. We are able to choose not necessarily what happens to us, but what we take it to mean! The human condition includes constant cross roads, where our choice ultimately is between Fear and Love. As creators of our perceptions, we also may co-create on many dimensions and in many realms. If the thoughts of a scientist can affect whether an electron “shows up” as either a particle or in  waveform, then our thoughts might be infinitely powerful in many ways. Life here is thus a responsibility where every thought, emotion and action has consequences for us, for others, for physical life on the planet and beyond. We can affect physical reality. This responsibility can be felt as a burden or as a gift. The choice is ours. And maybe we will be more inclined to experience the blessings of our physical existence, if we know more about the realities beyond it. An encounter with and awareness of a different level of existence might enable us to face the details of earthly life with more perspective and freedom to a live fully sans fear.

At age 18 I started a journey of self-discovery that included everything Stanislav Grof had ever written. I felt a resonance with his descriptions of alternate states of consciousness. His books gave me, for the first time, at chance to start to explain experiences, which up until that point had been non-verbal and only felt. This journey of discovery has continued ever since. Carolyn Myss’ work was another stepping stone in languaging the pre-verbal for me. From there Elizabeth Kübler-Ross’ work was a revelation. Many other authors have helped plant their translations of the alternate reality in my garden of perception. And for their contributions to my piecing together my own understanding of the totality of being, I am profoundly grateful.

Soon I am embarking on a week long seminar with Raymond Moody as part of my studies. He is someone who likewise has been a pivotal documenter and translator of this reality beyond the veil of physical reality.  My focus will be on continuing to pick up ways to translate the experience of the “alter-life” to find expression here in our earthly plain. My overall goal in life is to be a bridge between these realities. I strive to find ways to help myself and others grasp the importance of not getting stuck in the narrow field of vision of reductive realism. At the same time it is important for me not to allow the flights of fancy and flakiness that comes from leaving behind one’s analytical faculty. So as I prepare for this intensive, I wish to engage my inner trinity: My brain, my heart and my intuition.

Ultimately my goal is to further my understanding of how to continually bring joy, love and celebration, the effortless lightness of being, that permeates the Universe into the field of human awareness. Studying our feelings and the facts surrounding the topic of death is ultimately only a useful proposition if we use it to further our understanding of a greater reality than our physical human existence.  This way studying the circumstances of death enables us to enjoy and appreciate our life more fully here and now – not in retrospect – but as we live it!

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11 thoughts on “Why Death Doesn’t Scare Me… (It might not be what you think!)

  1. Hi Marie,
    Sometimes I’m not sure of when to comment on some posts. But, when your friend, Debbie, commented on her brother’s illness, I really wanted to reach out to her. When my baby brother was dying, I read all that I could find on dying. I was so scared and had no idea how to handle it. It was the hardest time in my life so far. I could write a book (almost a love story) about that year that Michael was sick. But 2 things really stick out in my mind when I could feel Debbie’s fear.

    One was in one of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s books when she worked with so many people who died and came back. There was a little girl who died and came back and said to her Mom, “Mommy, I want to go back to that place and be with my brother.” Her Mommy said, “You don’t have a brother.” They had never told her about her brother that was in heaven. THIS story is the one that really made me believe. A child does not have the life experience to know how make up that kind of story.

    The other thing was a priest that was in the bedroom with just Michael and me. He started telling the story of childbirth and all the pain and suffering that can happen—but when it’s done, what comes is the most beautiful thing on earth–a child. He then said that we must believe the same with death—even though we migh be feeling so much pain and suffering–when it’s done and our journey is complete, we will be in such a beautiful place.

    Thanks for listening! I’m so happy you had an angel appear at your bedside. The world is such a better place with you in it and willing to share with us. To your friend Debbie, you and your brother and all of your family are in my thoughts and prayers.
    Love & Hugs,
    Kathleen

    • Thank you, Kathleen for commenting here. I am so glad to share your insights here, where others might benefit from your wisdom too! That is such a beautiful story from the E.K.-Ross book. And the notion that birth and death both are similar in the discomfort we endure to enter into our physical existence is profound. To know that beauty awaits us – as people who have died and come back account with astonishing similarity no matter what their religious persuasion was or is – is a comfort for sure. Thank you!!!

  2. Reading your post today was very meaningful to me Marie,as I am coping with my Brother’s illness..which progresses..
    At the moment, and am having a hard time dealing w ith all the things associates with it..
    When i lie in bed..all those FEARS keep rearing their head.making me so anxious.
    I know the Truth about Life..and try an elivate my thinking..but that Fear factor creeps in,and is very hard to dispell.
    We have to work hard to not rob ourselves of life..by fearing death..

    • Debbie, This is the million dollar proposition that face all of us. And I know the voice of “should” very well. I “should” not be fearful, because I “know better”. And still we walk around fearful and worried. This drains our energy, and as you say so beautifully, rob us of our life force. This is one of the areas that coaching has been a game changer for me. Connecting the dots between what I know to be Truth and having it reflect in my actions!

      • Debbie – just read my answer to you and realized that the first part of what I had said had not made the comment box. I must have pushed a wrong button….
        Anyway, my heart goes out to you and it is completely understandable that you are overwhelmed by fear. We wonder about all the “what if’s” and fear sneaks in when we are quiet. It is often our fear that informs what is really important to us. So obviously your brother means a great deal to you. Learning to “understand” the fear and to hear why it is really trying to get our attention might sometimes help rather than try to “combat” the fear. When fear becomes an informative ally it can help us take action.

  3. You are—as always such an amazing human being! Thank you for sharing your words of wisdom and inspiration! Hugs, Kathleen

  4. As a hospice nurse I understood and enjoyed this piece wholeheartedly. It is very inspiring and introspective. I hope it is published over and over again. Congratulations to Marie and God bless that nurse.

    • You are so right about the nurse having a life-changing role in my life! And we can only guess how many times each day, nurses provide the human element that makes all of the difference where medicine and science fall short. I have never been able to locate this angel in my life again. I would love to thank her for all she did for me!

      • oh.. Thank you Kathleen. You know it takes one to know one. We only see in others what we carry inside. I do appreciate your comment very much! Thanks…

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