Desert Revelation: Dealing with Life on My Own

People often tell me how sorry they are that I’ve had no signs from my dead life mate/soul mate, but the truth is, even if he does still exist somewhere, there is no reason for him to try to contact me. A sign from him wouldn’t change anything, not his life, not his death, not my missing him. And it wouldn’t change my life.

I am not an Ebenezer Scrooge who needs to be shown the effects of my evil ways, nor am I a George Bailey who needs to be shown the effects of my benevolent ways. I do the best I can each day, trying to be kind to others, trying to be kind to myself.

All my life, I’ve studied religions, philosophies, mythologies. I’ve even had strong beliefs at various times, and have lived accordingly, though those beliefs have shifted through the entire spectrum of theological thought. I haven’t just been living haphazardly with nothing in my head but me me me. Whatever lies beyond this life, whether we retain our individuality or our energy becomes part of the “everything,” it isn’t germane to my life here on Earth since this is the only life I know. Understanding the truth of my existence won’t change anything I do.

I still question, of course, because that’s what my life is all about — quest(ion)ing. As with all quests, it’s the journey that counts, not the elixir of truth you find at the end. Even if you were shown the truth ahead of time, until you become the person who understands that truth, the truth remains obscure.

And so is this blog post — obscure. But I don’t mean it to be. I’m just trying to put today’s desert revelation into words. I am still prone to strange and mystical thoughts on my daily walks in the desert, though the thoughts could be the result of heat baking my brain instead of true insights. But this one feels true.

As much as I would like to talk to my mate, to find out how he’s doing, to know if he’s glad he’s dead, it wouldn’t change anything. I call him my soul mate because while he was alive, we had an incredibly strong connection, but I don’t think he’s actually sharing my soul. He’s his own person, on his own quest, and the further I get from our shared life, the more I feel the truth of that. Besides, I have my own quest to deal with, and it’s all I can handle right now.

Grappling with Death

A friend has been dealing with a spate of deaths in her life, and she’s trying to understand the purpose of them. I hope she succeeds. Death is so very hard to deal with, and the worst part is the seeming senselessness of it. I’ve been grappling with the subject for more than two years now, ever since the death of my life mate/soul mate, and I haven’t a clue what the purpose of death is. Well, of course, I understand the purpose on a global scale — the species needs to be constantly revitalized — but on a more personal scale, what is the purpose of these deaths? Of any death?

I know why my life mate had to die — his body was destroyed by an invading army of malignant cells, and he could no longer function — but is there any purpose to his death?

There certainly isn’t any purpose for me. I thought I’d feel free once I no longer had to live under the constraints of his illness, and maybe someday I will feel free, but for now, I’m lonely, sad, angry at times, and miss him always. Perhaps his death is a growth experience for me, but if he hadn’t died, I wouldn’t have needed to grow in this particular direction. And anyway, his death is way to big a price to pay for something so paltry.

Was there a purpose for him other than to be done with his suffering? This leads me to the equally unanswerable question of why he had to suffer in the first place. Who chose for him to suffer? He sure as heck didn’t — he did everything he could to live a healthy life, but pain dogged him all his years. (I’m sorry, but if your belief system suggests that we choose our pain, I don’t want to hear about it.)

Even if there is a purpose to death, one that we are ill equipped to understand, who chooses who gets to live and who has to die (or is it better phrased, “who gets to die and who has to live?”). Is there a moving finger writing our deaths, or is it blind chance? Blind chance doesn’t seem to be any way to run a universe, but what do I know? I don’t even know how to run something as commonplace as a car. I can drive, but making the car run when something goes wrong is beyond me.

Maybe someday my friend and I will be able to understand the purpose of death, but I doubt it, at least not while we are alive. (I just realized — every time I write about some facet of death, I post it under the category of life. I wonder if there is a clue in that.)

Grief: Haunted by the Hard Questions

One of the more confusing aspects of grief after the loss of a life mate, a child, or someone we were deeply connected to is that we are haunted by the hard questions. Who are we? Why are here? Is this all there is? Where did our loved ones go? Will we see them again? What is the meaning of life, and probably most haunting of all, what is the meaning of death?

Many of my fellow bereft read everything they can find about such matters of the spirit, but I didn’t — I’d spent years on a quest for truth and reality, and I’d come to believe that God is the spirit of creativity that fuels the universe, and we are each a part of that creativity. I was content believing that our spirit/energy returned to the whole . . . until my life mate/soul mate died. Then all of a sudden, I didn’t want that to be the truth. I wanted him to continue existing as him, as the man he was.

I do think there is a deeper reality, I’m just not sure our conscious selves are a part of it. We are a product of our genetics, our hormones, our brains (anyone who has had to cope with an Alzheimer’s sufferer or a loved one who had cancer in their brains, and found a stranger in that familiar body, knows how much the brain controls who we are). So what  survives, if anything? The part of us we never knew — the un-sub-conscious? If so, how would we know who we were after we were dead? Is it just the energy in our bodies that is released? If so, for sure we would not know who we were.

On the other hand, without some sort of afterlife, life simply does not make sense. What’s the point of it all? To survive? For what — more survival until there is no more survival? To help others? Why? So they can survive? For what?

If there is life after death, what do you do with eternity? You have no ears to hear music, no eyes to read or watch a movie, no legs to walk, no hands to caress another, no mouth to talk, no brain to think. Sounds like a horror movie to me. And what will we do if we meet again? Bask in each other’s light? That would get boring after a minute or two.

When we met — my soul mate and I — I still believed in a cosmic plan, and I had the feeling that he was a higher being come to help me on my quest to the truth. But now? I no longer believe there is a universal truth, and I don’t think he’s waiting for me, though I act as if he is. It’s better than believing that he is gone forever.

And perhaps he does still exist in some form. What do I know? One thing I have learned from my grief is that a human life is a spectrum. You don’t notice it so much when you are both alive, because you are both in the moment, both always the people you have become and not yet the people you are becoming. But when one of you dies, his becoming ceases, and you see his life as a whole. The person he was when you met is every bit as alive in memory as the person he was the minute before he died. The youthful man, the middle-aged one, the healthy one, the sick one are all merely spaces on the spectrum of his life.

It’s possible the spectrum of a human life is the same sort of spectrum as light — beginning long before the visible part appears and ending long after the visible part disappears. Of course, the non-visible parts of the electromagnetic spectrum aren’t light but sound and radiation and other invisible waves, so whatever exists outside of the visible human spectrum might be something completely different from we can ever imagine.

It’s also possible that our bodies are like television channels, receptors for certain wavelengths, so that our “souls” actually reside outside our bodies, but still, the selves that we know are defined by life in our bodies. So, again, we come back to the same question, what of us survives?

Grief is an isolating experience, made more so by our spiritual quest. While our family and friends continue on their same daily path, we find ourselves going in a completely different direction. There are no answers to our questions, but still, they haunt us, and we try to figure out a way for it all to make sense.

But life will never make sense because we are still here and our loved ones are gone. Where is the sense in that?

What is Life? What is Death? And What do Such Questions Have to do With Grief?

I always like when people think out loud here on my blog, when something I have said strikes an answering chord, and often when they’re not sure if they are making sense, they make the most sense to me. The only good thing about my grief is that I’ve met some wonderful people who are struggling with the same questions I am, and I’ve had some thought-provoking discussions about the meaning of life, death, grief, and whether any of it matters.

Leesa from Leesis Ponders believes that it does matter. She wrote on her blog:

I have spent my whole life asking if there is a god and if so what does it have to do with me.

And for me, life matters.

The search for self that blends into all matters.

The way we act towards others matters.

The way we raise our kids matters.

The way we treat the less empowered matters.

Leesa has been here with me through almost two years of grief, letting me know that my grief matters, that life matters.

In a previous post, Falling Into Grief, I wrote: Before people fall in love, they haven’t a clue of its true power, and then it washes over them in a life-changing moment. Before you fall into grief, you haven’t a clue of its true power, but it too washes over you in a life-changing moment, and all but drowns you. Even though I’ve experienced so much of what grief does to a person, I still can’t believe its power. The way grief reflects falling in love as in a very dark mirror, there has to be a hormonal component. I know stress releases hormones, as does shock. Adrenaline courses through your body, and there are changes in brain chemistry that produce hormones. Your immune system goes on hold.

Leesa responded: one thing you are absolutely spot on about is that we don’t know the power of falling in love nor the power of grief, nor indeed the power of love when ones baby is born until we actually experience it. The reality of life seems to be that our most intense experiences in life are about our deepest connection to each other. These experiences are life altering and this goes way beyond the DNA imperative.

For me personally then questions upon questions arise. Why is this intimate connection our deepest need, our greatest joy?  What is pain about? What is the sense of being alone about? How does our idea of separating off into couples and nuclear families contribute to our sense of loss when death occurs? Why are we so interdependent on each other, on the planet on everything else. And, what is death about? 

I know that many people feel they have their answers to that last question, some theologically, some via science but personally I don’t. Another bunch of folk seem to think we can’t answer such questions. I don’t agree. I think since many of us have dumped traditional theological answers or scientific reductionist responses as inadequate we’ve kind of given up questioning. I think we need to keep questioning because whilst we are subject to many biochemical reactions to life events there is a deeper reality.

Of course none of this helps a person smack bang in the middle of grief. It still has to be lived through. But I’m convinced that we need to keep asking. I hope this makes sense to what you’ve written…I’m not sure it makes exact sense to me. I guess I just feel that once we truly understand more our experience of these events will be perceived differently…perhaps the pain will be the same but perceived differently. I’m not sure really but I am sure we don’t know enough to interpret meaning yet.

Leesa’s question, “What is death about?” haunts me. She’s right — many people do think they know the answer, but there is no way to know for sure, which is why it’s called a “belief” and not a “surety.” I do think there is a deeper reality, I’m just not sure our conscious selves are a part of it. We are so much a product of our genetics, our hormones, our brains (anyone who has had to cope with an Alzheimer’s sufferer or a loved one who had cancer in their brains, and found a stranger in that familiar body, knows how much the brain controls who we are), that I’m not sure how much of “us” survives.

There is a theory that our bodies are like television channels, receptors for certain wavelengths, so that our “souls” actually reside outside our bodies, but what does that have to do with life in our bodies?.

My friends laugh at me (affectionately) when I ask what we’re supposed to do with eternity. We have no mouths to talk, no hands to write, no arms to hug, no eyes to read or watch movies, no legs to walk.

On the other hand, if human life is a spectrum as I postulated a few days ago, then perhaps the spectrum of a human life is the same sort of spectrum as light — beginning long before the visible part appears and ending long after the visible part disappears. Of course, the non-visible parts of the electromagnetic spectrum aren’t light but sound and radiation and other invisible waves, so whatever exists outside of the visible human spectrum might be something completely different from we can ever imagine.

When I get lost in the questioning, I hold tight to Leesa’s credo that such such questions matter, that life matters.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 5,405 other followers