Fear of Death?
Are you afraid of dying? If you are afraid of dying you are afraid of really living.
Most people are afraid of dying yet people with late-stage Alzheimer’s are not, at least the ones I have encountered. What is the difference? You might assume it is because, having suffered for many years from a protracted terminal illness, which Alzheimer’s is, people just want to die to get away from it all. I believe there is a much more interesting explanation.
People with late-stage Alzheimer’s, and people at the end-of-life, often have intermittent altered states of consciousness in which they experience another world with a different reality. In this other world there is no fear or pain and they are at peace. My mother said, “I am at peace, I have no worries, no fears. I am in no pain.” In this world she was very disabled, both mentally and physically. She had also spent a lifetime suffering from depression and worrying. So this other world was a new and welcome one and a blessing for her.
One day when I looked worried she said to me, “We’re learning we’re immortal.” On another occasion she told me of a dream she had had in which she had a preview of her own death. She said, “Death is nothing to be afraid of. It is peaceful”. This was reassuring to her and I might add it was deeply comforting to me.
Over a period of three and a half years she frequently sojourned into another world and when there, to my astonishment, expressed the wisdom of sages and spiritual teachers throughout the ages. All this was delivered in a voice of absolute authority.
It is understandable, when we don’t have these other world experiences ourselves, we dismiss them as delusions and see only the suffering in this, our physical world. But if we acknowledge the other world the person with Alzheimer’s is experiencing, he or she will feel validated. Not only that, slipping into the other world is a natural preparation for the next stage and a for a good ending in this world. If we view these experiences in this way and value them we can learn from them.
Fundamentally there are two emotions, love and fear. Where there is fear there is no love and where there is love there is no fear. So maybe the key to being unafraid of dying is to love. And if we really love we can really live.
“Love never dies.” Mum
Looking forward to the next stage of our journey together.
Maggie La Tourelle