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Death as a Life Passage

I’ve been introducing you to the Life Passages, those challenging crucibles that life throws at us, making us (hopefully) wiser.  Well, now it’s time for the most anticipated, feared, and misunderstood Life Passage of all!

Here we are at the final “life” passage. Death.  (cue ominous music here)

I kind of want to stop right there, not explain anything, just to freak you out.  

Hehee – I tease.  

Because the truth is, I want to normalize this passage as something we all experience, and not something to be afraid of.

The Death Passage is not just about you kicking the literal bucket.  Most of us experience “Death” as a rite of passage a number of times in our lives.  It happens when you experience a loss that feels like you’ve lost your entire identity.  

This can happen with the death of someone close to you, when you don’t know who you are afterwards.  It can happen when you walk through a serious illness that threatens your own life, and you come out of that with a whole new perspective.  Yes, it does teach us Surrender.  Not just “acceptance” which is like our heady way of saying to life “Oh, OK I guess so.”  It teaches us to completely let go of the past, so we can walk unencumbered into what’s next.

I remember when Maria invited me to participate in her family’s Death Rite of Passage, the Night of Fear ceremony.  The ritual was designed to have you face your fear of death, and to transcend it.  The idea was that if you were no longer afraid of your own death, you’re no longer really afraid of anything.  As part of this ceremony, you dig your own grave in the ground, and then lie there overnight, facing your fears.  I was super excited.  I was all lit up about laying in my grave.  I was SO lit up, that when the time came, Maria had me act as a guardian for others who were doing the lie-in-the-grave thing instead of doing it myself.  She said there was no need for me to do it, because I wasn’t afraid of it.  I was genuinely disappointed.  

She explained that when I had my sudden intuitive awakening in 2000, which changed me so much that my parents were worried I’d turned bonkers, that was my death passage.  I’d been forced to surrender my past identity.  And I remembered how excruciating those times were, letting go of my previous idea of who I was.  My parents, my husband, my church community – it was hard for everyone to recognize the “new” version of me after the change.  Surrender was the only way through it.  And on the other side was peace with who I was now.  

Now I’m not saying I’ve got the whole thing wired.  Because these passages happen in layers, and they come back around.  When I lost my mom, part of me dissolved.  I had to surrender into that loss.  As I’ve been walking through Menopause, there’s a part of me that feels like she’s dying.  Maybe these are all little death passages.  And I feel honestly lucky that I haven’t been kicked in the teeth by Death many times in my life so far.  I hope I have the courage to surrender into her whenever she does grace my door.

Of course we can fight the Surrender part of the Death passage, and it often causes us to just feel stuck.  For example, sometimes a person might lose someone so close to their hearts, that the pain seems impossible to feel.  It may seem like they refuse to grieve.  They might spend years in emotional lock-down.  Maybe someone walks through a harrowing experience, but never allows themselves to feel the emotional pain or terror. Maybe their nervous systems just aren’t up for it in that moment. In these cases, we can get stuck in a strange limbo, feeling like a ghost in our own lives.  We can find ourselves numb, going through the motions, living in a spin of distraction provided easily by social media and superficial entertainment.  We can postpone the grief, the surrender.

Everyone grieves in their own way.  And like I often say, I’m not here to “should” all over you!  Sometimes we need years of floating before we can land and courageously face our grief after a loss.  But if you feel that part of you is avoiding surrendering, avoiding letting go into what feels hard, please know that when you do reach surrender, there is something waiting for you on the other side.  

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About Mellissa

Mellissa was a Stanford-educated business lawyer until her intuitive abilities awakened in the year 2000 with the birth of her daughter.  Now she bridges the worlds of business strategy and intuitive intelligence. Creative designers, Fortune 500 executives, and thought leaders hire her to teach them how to Channel their Genius – to create on demand, to stay in their flow state, and to create lucrative businesses that follow their souls’ calling.

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