“Perhaps the deepest reason why we are afraid of death is because we do not know who we are. We believe in a personal, unique, and separate identity — but if we dare to examine it, we find that this identity depends entirely on an endless collection of things to prop it up: our name, our “biography,” our partners, family, home, job, friends, credit cards… It is on their fragile and transient support that we rely for our security. So when they are all taken away, will we have any idea of who we really are?
Without our familiar props, we are faced with just ourselves, a person we do not know, an unnerving stranger with whom we have been living all the time but we never really wanted to meet. Isn’t that why we have tried to fill every moment of time with noise and activity, however boring or trivial, to ensure that we are never left in silence with this stranger on our own?”
― Sogyal Rinpoche, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying
I lost my grandmother a year ago. It was quite unexpected and though she made it to the ripe-old age of 87, the whole experience hit me like a ton of bricks. Her death was the first real experience I had with death and facing mortality all together. How could someone who watched me grow up, buckled my snow boots, and gave me all the little treasures and goodies in her purse, just all of a sudden, be gone? Cease to exist. As she was in the hospital, nearing the end, slowly needing to be put on life support, I had these intense sensations. I was driving home alone in the dark, on Highway 1, heading back down to Big Sur where I was living, and I felt this energy in the car. It was as if there was a ‘presence’ in the car with me. Undeniable. This is how I knew, this was the real deal. A bi life change was about to happen. All these messages and thoughts came FLOODING. Guidance about how this would be a huge transition and change for my mother and mark a new chapter in life. She encouraged me to continue playing my ukelele, and I will never forget the words that I heard in that moment, clear as day. “Keep Shining”.
This book has helped me come to terms with death and what it means to pass on. I hope it helps you too.