We are surrounded by physical and metaphorical reminders that life has a natural cycle. Winter comes to bring a dying end to the year. Leaves bud, bloom, wither and fall. Insects have life cycles of weeks or even days. Small animals might be birthed in the spring and not see even a year. The sun rises and sets each day.
And yet we are so frightened of death. We cling and sob, and our hearts break over the loss. It is utterly inevitable and yet we cannot seem to come to terms with it.
I read a story this week of a tribal village in which their tiny women (average 100 lbs) birth on average 13 pound babies. But if you just cringed a little, there's no need. These women birth with little to no pain. How? It is attributed to the lack of fear associated with the event. When a mother goes into labour, the women of the village come around her, and they walk, sway, move as one, singing and chanting as they go. The moment is being celebrated and supported and suddenly the baby slips out. How different from our North American version, fraught with fear, filled with anguish, tales of horror. No matter how much I tried to calm and reassure myself the culture of fear was so deeply imbedded it was inescapable.
I wonder if the same is true of death. If we could see it as a natural part of life, a celebrated journey coming to a close. Perhaps, depending on your faith, the beginning of a new journey. There are glimpses of such in our culture, but far too little. Yes, even in tragedy perhaps there could be an easing of pain if we embraced the idea of a circle of life, evidenced all around us. Even a life that has not attained what we in America would term "a good life span." Perhaps if we could better understand that the circles are all different lengths. Perhaps if we could love and live every day.
I think it is only when death touches closely that we truly start to wade through these ideas. But if they were better understood on a whole, a natural part of conversation that begins with birth, then perhaps we might not find it all so strange and fearsome when it does come.