Did you know that Patch Adams was real?
Did you also know that Patch Adams was a firm believer in the idea of death being more than the end of something? In his mind, death was a good thing. In fact, it was meant to show us the value of life. I have recently lost many; my family is going through an epidemic of death. On one side of the family, three passed away in the same year; on the other side of the family, one recently passed and another ended up in the hospital.
But despite the negative viewpoints of my family, I must constantly remind myself that we all need to treat death with a sense of dignity, integrity, and even humor. When you look at death as a step in life, rather than a means of losing something, you are taking a big step forward as a human being; the human experience will mean that much more to you when you see how much loss takes, and how much loss gives.
My great aunt loved dragonflies. When she passed away, the funeral was wonderful. I remember the fond words of my family, the ceremony, and the ethereal presence of the living among the dead, and the unison the two parties share without consent. It was a rather beautiful experience…but the true beauty of life emerged later on that day.
As a Jewish family, we had a wake after the funeral. What a word: “wake,” as if we expect our fallen to rise from the graves (oh, how we were right). We sat around, doing exactly what one should do when someone passes: reminiscing with stories of her, how she used to sit around and bicker at the television (sometimes it was not even turned on!), and how she loved her family, her friends, and everyone around her.
The back door had been left open. We were all about to get up and leave, when suddenly the biggest dragonfly you could possibly imagine flew into the room…and sat itself on the wall above the table, as if it was her reminding us that death is only a step in life. We were astonished! What a weird turn of events, but in the end it reminds us how the realm of the spirit is real, and how death is not the end. The end comes when we decide to forget to honor those around us – even those who have passed.
Many believe there are only five stages of the Grieving Process: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. I disagree. I feel there is a sixth step, and that is Acknowledgement. This means talking about them every chance you get, reminding yourself and those around you of who they once were; it means talking about them to strangers, wrong numbers…whoever happens to be within earshot, talk about them as if they are right there next to us, or sitting in the chair beside our own.
Never forget those who have fallen. And remember that that is all they are: fallen. The dead remain dead only if we let them, and only if we forget to pick them back up when they have left their ethereal bodies and entered into the realm of the spirit. Never let the world take them from you, no matter how real the death may feel. You do not have to be religious or even spiritual to understand the science of this: if you constantly remind yourself and those around you of their presence, they cannot truly die.
Who Have You Lost?
I urge you to remember those who are fallen around you. Whether you knew them personally or if they were someone indirectly attached to you, a family member, or a friend (or even a stranger), let the world know who they were when they were alive. Never forget them; never let them die, for the only way to truly “die” is to become forgotten in the eyes of those who knew you when you were alive! Be the person who tells these remarks to your own family the next time someone passes on.