At nine years old I was snuggled next to my father with his arm around me when he died while we were watching a movie with the family on a Sunday evening. He died from a massive heart attack brought on by a blood clot from a broken leg, which had gone septic from osteomyelitis of the bone. As a child, I felt devastated and took on a great deal of sadness from a feeling of loss and the way others talked about death.
The feeling of devastation was so great from my father’s death, that at other deaths and funerals – grand parents times three, uncles and aunties times seventeen, several first cousins, some close friends, and a few suicides – there was never a feeling of loss or sadness. On the occasions of other people’s deaths, my lack of emotion and absence of emotional out pouring was noted.
It was only when I dwelt on my father’s death that these emotions would well up. It was like a bad “B” grade movie and the re-runs just kept on in my head like that catchy tune that won’t leave your mind alone.
At the time of my father’s funeral children were not able to attend because our family thought we were too young. Staying at home, I cried into my pillow and buried my sadness and feelings of rejection and loss even deeper. These emotional issues became fleeting moments that were always in the background and could be re-kindled at any time. Dwelling on my emotions would only increase my nervous energy or anxiousness because of my inability to deal with them. I continuously chose to detach from the emotions and dwell on other things. When I did give consideration to the emotions they were still there in one form or another.
The family wake after my father’s funeral was when the discussion around reincarnation started. This became something I felt very close to, because I had always felt that my father was around. In my life there have been lots of instances that have reinforced the fact of reincarnation. For me, this topic brings the ultimate responsibility and integrity to all that I do and think. Like so many true teachings, reincarnation has strayed or been misinterpreted from its true meaning, therefore it was easy for me in a society that has bastardised the word, to lose sight of the responsibility which comes with reincarnation.
My father’s death led to deeper feelings of rejection and greater hurts around not being met or truly loved. I can remember crying into my pillow feeling totally rejected, not loved, lost, so sad and my heart felt crushed that I simply did not want to exist any more every time I cried.
The next time death came to me was when I was in my twenties and I was the first on the scene at a car accident that happened close to where I was working. I immediately saw that the man was dead, as the seat belt was crushing his lungs and he was spewing blood and bile. The man was lifeless, just a corpse with no spark of life in him and I could feel that his spirit had left his body.
From a position of arrogance around death, dying, being killed, and mourning family or friends, I went on a twenty-year bender of drugs and alcohol, which only hardened my body even more.
The next unfolding of this journey started when my brother rang me just over a year ago and told me our mum was close to dying and that I should come and see her before she passed-over. So I went to Wollongong and as expected my mum was no longer consciously with us but was now totally possessed by a spirit that did not recognise me, the family or any one else. For the two days and nights that I stayed in her room at the hospice I felt total empty-ness around her.
Some twelve months before, when I felt how checked out she was at that time, I said good-bye to her then. I had been watching her decline for over twenty years and seeing her becoming less and less present with those around her. The dementia or lack of commitment to life began when my father died, over fifty years earlier. The emotional love that was her attachment to my father meant she could never let go of him and on many occasions over a thirty-year period she felt and expressed to me she wanted to die.
At the time of her physical death I was sitting next to her holding her wrist – nearly fifty-three years after my father’s funeral. I felt no sadness, only a joy at her death. This joy continues months after her passing and as I now have a new understanding about death and reincarnation, I have absolutely no lingering attachment to her in any way, unlike my brother and sister who still have feelings of sadness.
Several weeks after my mother’s death I came to a deeper understanding of the immense sadness that I still held around my father’s passing. With my mother, I had literally held death by the hand and looked straight into her eyes and seen it for the joy that it is, rather than the trauma I felt when my father died.
Once the concept of reincarnation is fully embraced, deaths and funerals will be joyous occasions where we rejoice at the release of the spirit from its physical constraints and celebrate a life well-lived.
Greg B., Australia