The Art of Dying

Peter Pan said, “To die will be an awfully big adventure.” On June 25, 2017, my husband began his big adventure. It seems to me that the best way to do a Memorial Service for him, being a nomad, is over the invisible airwaves of the internet. That way it can wander around the planet as Ron so loved to do.

There is much to be learned from the dying process. And Ron, who taught me so much about love and forgiveness, continued to teach me with his dying. He suffered greatly as bone cancer devoured him from within. The courage and grace he endured it with made him a favorite of those who lovingly cared for him at Hospice by the Sea in Boca Raton, Florida.

We all build invisible walls around ourselves that are supposed to protect us but actually hurt us. Defenses are like that. They do the very thing they are supposed to protect you from. Ron’s wall caused him to sometimes come across uncaring, and say the wrong or hurtful thing. I knew that behind the facade was a sensitive, insecure soul. (As indeed most of us are.)

For Ron, it took a painful dying experience to break down the wall and reveal the pure, gentle soul behind it. During the dying process, all his defenses fell away. He surrendered to the journey. His vanity was stripped away but not his dignity. What many would endure with humiliation, he accepted with humility. Through the long, painful dying process, he expressed only kindness and gratitude. 

Why he had to suffer so, it is not for me to know. And for a while, I prayed that he would go quickly. And then I realized: this is his journey and his departure was between him and God. One person said to him, “You shouldn’t have to go through this.” Ron replied, “There is a reason for everything.”

Maybe it was his way of dissolving his defenses, overcoming pride and prejudice. For those who believe in karma, maybe he was working his out. Maybe it was to deepen our bond and bring us closer than ever. Maybe it was to hear some of the beautiful messages he received and know he was loved. Whatever the purpose, I do not know. But I know he succeeded.

Exultation is the going
Of an inland soul to sea –
Past the houses –

Past the headlands –

Into deep eternity.

Emily Dickinson

In Aramaic, the language Jesus spoke, there was no word for death. When someone passed, they used a word that meant “Not here, somewhere else.” Ron is not here on the physical plane, he is somewhere else.  Somewhere beyond the laws of time and space, somewhere without limits and pain and sorrow, somewhere where the angels sing and the love of God fills him to overflowing.

And God Himself shall wipe away all tears. Where darkness was I look upon the light. All pain is healed; all misery replaced with joy.
A Course in Miracles

The death of a loved one is perhaps the hardest thing we have to face in this life. We think what we see and touch and hear is real but it’s not. We are ethereal beings and death is dropping the heavy garment that keeps us earthbound.

I do believe that there is an art to dying. I don’t agree with the resistance urged by Dylan Thomas…

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Rather I would say…

Lay down your weapons, break down your walls.

Look back with gratitude. Reach out with kindness.

Resist not the dying of the day for this is but one dimension of life.

There are many roads yet to travel. Follow the Light and let Love be your guide.

This, I believe, is the art of dying. And I am so proud of Ron for mastering it.

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18 thoughts on “The Art of Dying”

  1. What a beautiful tribute to Ron….all that you said it so true and I am so glad that I was there during his last 2 weeks to witness exactly what you said about him: his gratitude, his humility and his dignity through it all.
    Well done, Geri.
    Love
    Helene

  2. “Not here, somewhere else” I am sure he must be smiling up there as he sees how beautifully you have captured his emotions and struggle in your sensitive words. No words seem enough at such a difficult time.

  3. Incredibly beautiful, Geri, as I knew your Memorial Service for Ron would be. You have shown us, with your words, that solace really does come from the knowledge that Ron is in a better place, and we can all learn that that same solace is attainable for all of us who have experienced, or will experience, the death of a loved one. Thank you for sharing your valuable words and insight. They are a comfort that can transcend grief.

  4. Geri… I have yet again chills reading this…you are an amazing beautiful kind woman with such a gift of writing, I feel that I am elsewhere, removed from the current moment, so much passion, and truth…My sincere condolences in the loss of Ron. So blessed to have met you and to have encountered such beauty in your words. All the best to you my friend.

  5. When you put it so beautifully, it gives me a new and meaningful perspective on the work that I do. Thank you for doing that. Thank you for letting me into this small part of your lives. Let me know when you have “settled” maybe we could do lunch.

    Peace, my heart, let the time for the parting be sweet.
    Let it not be a death but completeness.
    Let love melt into memory and pain into songs.
    Let the flight through the sky end in the folding of the wings over the nest.
    Let the last touch of your hands be gentle like the flower of the night.
    Stand still, O Beautiful End, for a moment, and say your last words in silence.
    I bow to you and hold up my lamp to light you on your way.

    Rabindranath Tagore

  6. Sorry for the late delay in responding to your beautiful Memorial to Ron.
    We know that Ron was your inspiration and guide in many ways. We offer our deepest sympathies.
    Although we got to know you both just recently, we found that Ron was a light and love to us immediately.

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