The Cook Awakening

Life, Death, and Other Little Things

May 5, 2014
Posted in: Life on Life's Terms, Living with Health Challenges, Seasonal Change

My family attended a Beltane festival yesterday, an ancient Celtic celebration of springtime and fertility. We celebrated the outgoing May Queen (curtsy) and King, and welcomed a new May royalty who will hold and embody in sacred trust the ability of the earth and all its inhabitants to bring forth new life.

Beltane Hat

Flower and herb crown for new life!

That may be literal or metaphoric children. We birth our ideas, we birth our creative endeavors, we birth our changes in our work-in-the-world. We all wrote down what we wanted to bring into life in the coming year on a ribbon and tied it to the Maypole – the sky god’s very own phallus resting in the earth mother’s yoni. We danced and sang and wrapped that phallus with our sincere wishes for prosperity and love and health and world peace. (In true Beltane fashion there were a few wishes expressed for really good sex, too.)

The weave of our dance and our ribbons was powerful to be a part of, the hope being that if the sky god finds our intercession “pleasing” (this was a PG13 festival), then the earth mother would receive his seed, and all would be well in the coming season.


With many colored ribbons

Yes, for those of you who didn’t know, that is the symbolism of the Maypole. I have never experienced my children’s May Day festivals at school quite the same way since I learned this.

And, as I celebrated life yesterday, death was also on my mind. I painted morning glories on myself in honor of a woman I know of that name who is living her last days as I write. Three friends have just lost parents. I heard that a previous client is in hospice.

And, so, as I am wont to do, I contemplate the seeming paradox. How do we hold life and death with wholesome mind-states?

When we fear death, we end up not being able to truly engage with life.

It’s important to tease out different levels of this issue. We all have a hard wired drive to live. If your access to air is blocked you will fight hard to breathe. If a saber-toothed tiger chased you in the wild, you would have run as hard as possible to escape, your sympathetic nervous system activated to help you survive. That’s very natural.

But, it’s also true that death is a natural outcome of life. We will all die. How did this become such a terrible thing in our culture? We idolize youth and work to extend it as long as possible. Our elders are hidden away and often treated with a sense of impatience at the least, fear and revulsion at the worst. It’s considered a failing to become seriously ill, the prospect filling us with a sense of panic.

I see it in my clients in subtle and not so subtle ways. When someone has spiraling multiple chronic illnesses the question arises – “Am I dying? I feel like I’m dying!” The fear that comes with that thought makes it very difficult to not only work on improving your health effectively, but difficult to have much peace while doing what you can for your body.

Sometimes we are driven by dysfunctional relationships with parents that are carried into adult life, or repeated with adult relationships. As a child, our survival depends on remaining in relationship with our parents. Literally. If our parents don’t love us and leave when we are young, we may not have the skills to survive. Parts of our personality get frozen in time as we figure out ways to cope with these difficult circumstances. You may know that the hard time you have with taking care of yourself is rooted in your childhood. But, most of us don’t identify that as a fear of dying. In my experience, that is the core emotion. If mom doesn’t love me she won’t take care of me. So, I better figure out how to act in a way that will keep her taking care of me. Hard wired survival instinct.

Interestingly, some of my clients who have a terminal diagnosis are the most peaceful. They can’t hide anymore, can’t distract themselves from the inevitability of the end of their time in this body.

So, I hold the contemplation this verdant springtime that the end of life will come. I watched my mother let go a year and a half ago. She was, in the end, very peaceful and relaxed.

One day I will let go.

Grief is not a sign of failing. It is a natural outcome of witnessing a natural process with someone you love. We can grieve the loss of our loved ones with tenderness and relaxation. Tears falling like rain. Outbursts of anger like lightening and thunder – bright and loud, then passing.

We can grieve our own death without fear before it is immanent.

Knowing it will end someday helps you love what is, right now. It is fleeting. And, so delicious. All of it. Dancing, loving, working, eating, hugging and snuggling. This is what’s important. Do what you can to remove fear from the equation.

Then you can truly invite in your life. What do you want for yourself and your community for the coming year? Write it down. Keep this paper in a special place, bury it, or burn it to release the wishes into the Universe. Let yourself want these things. Desire is a beautiful thing and helps create your journey forward. Do it consciously. Direct it! Now is the time, as the flowers bloom and the seeds are planted.

Plant your seeds, knowing that when it’s time, what grows will lie low again, surrendering to the wheel of life.

Blessings on your journey.

This entry was posted on Monday, May 5th, 2014 at 12:31 am and is filed under Life on Life's Terms, Living with Health Challenges, Seasonal Change. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


6 Responses to “Life, Death, and Other Little Things”

  1. BaeCat Says:

    Mmmm. (Sigh) Thank you.
    What a beautiful mind you have.

  2. Cynthia Towle Says:

    Hi Durga: My mother died on February 15th, but actually died at home on February 12th. She was getting ready to go walk the dog with my dad and using her nebulizer before the walk. She turned around to my dad and said “Bill,I think I’m dying” and laid her head on the desk. All very calm. She was 80. Despite this calm death (resptory failure ) it was still crazy making for well over a month. I flew to Tucson to stop the heroic measures being taken, and even while we were all around the bed with hands on, it didn’t seem like it was time. She was thrilled to live to 80,and she said quite giddily at BJ’parents funeral (died 5-days apart)”I could die at any time, I’ve had a great full life!” She had almost died once before – and she did go to grief counseling because she knew it was going to happen sooner or later, and she wanted to be ready. I guess she was. I still feel a great big hole since we were always very close and talked a lot on the phone and multiple yearly visits. I find myself going to the phone a couple of times a week to just tell her about flowers blooming, a book I read, or about the kids.

  3. Durga Fuller Says:


  4. Durga Fuller Says:

    You can still talk to her, Cynthia. Tell her! Her body is gone, but I truly believe the relationship lives on in our heart. Imagine her there in the room with her when you get a few minutes alone. Let her know all the things you want to tell her. There’s no reason to stop that flow of love and communication.

    Thank you for sharing this story. Reading it brings tears to my eyes. I pray I am as conscious and willing when my time comes.

  5. Ashara Says:

    My great challenge and greatest joy is making peace with my life, my family, and the inevitable death awaiting us all. Durga, thank you.

  6. Durga Fuller Says:


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