How open are you?

Life has taught me that there is no death; there is only deathless existence as there are worlds within worlds, metaphorically speaking.  Life has also taught me, as it has others, that the event of death enables a human being to change their form from something that was once material to something non-material.  But there is more to it than that, and to state it so simply is to deny one of deaths’ roles as the doorway to our afterlife.

When we die, we enter the vastness of the spiritual universe, a world largely unexplored by most people.  Before that occurs, our lives can intersect with our death, as in for example when we experience shared-death events or near-death events.  These events teach us that we are more than our material selves and that existence continues after death, albeit in different form.  Such experiences can be deeply profound for the individual, creating psychological shifts and a reorganisation of their inner lives, their world views and belief systems, and ultimately, how they live in the world.

When I was grieving the death of my then husband, who had died in 2004, ‘life’ taught me that I had to find my rhythm with my grief.  I did find it and I found it in a way that was right for me.  Many people have said to me throughout my life that death is a mystery.  Dying isn’t, that’s all too real, but the meaning of death, its purpose in our lives, that doesn’t have to be a mystery and it won’t be if we can find our rhythm with it.  How we do this is intensely personal, unique, and dependent on numerous factors which may interconnect with other facets of our lives, which themselves can be subject to influence and change at any time.

From the perspective of an afterlife and a useful universe, what is death’s use and why would we contemplate it?  It seems to me that when we contemplate death, by default we also contemplate life, and when we contemplate life, we eventually ask ourselves, “What am I living for?”  Some people may never ask themselves that question, yet others, discontent with life are inwardly driven because they know life can be more meaningful and so they search for answers, or a way, or a signpost that will point them in a direction that is right for them.

My journey toward finding my rhythm with death and the afterlife began in my childhood, a formative period during which one of the things I learnt was that I had the power to think for myself.  I also learnt something else; that even though human beings can inflict untold misery, cruelty and suffering on one another, something fundamentally good exists over and above such people as it does the suffering they cause.  It was a harsh lesson for a child to learn, but as young as I was, I knew that my way of being in the world and how I wanted to live in the world was the result of my own inner decisions; it was later in life that I learnt that those inner decisions had to be contrary to life’s influences.  And it’s been that way ever since.

Michele T Knight Written by:

Dr Michele Knight is a Social Worker, Social Scientist, researcher and independent scholar. Her interest and research in the end-of-life has its origin in the lived experiences of her own bereavements, her near-death and shared-death events, the returning deceased and attitudinal responses to those experiences. Since 2006, she has been extensively involved in community development, support and advocacy in both a professional and community services/voluntary capacity in the areas of bereavement and grief, hospital pastoral care, and academic lecturing/tutoring. Her PhD, Ways of Being: The alchemy of bereavement and communique, explores the lived experience of bereavement, grief, spirituality and unsought encounters with the returning deceased.

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