Death- Grief and Surrender

A brown cloth with scissor designs printed on holds two Death tarot cards, one from the Herbal Tarot and the other from the Motherpeace tarot. The cards are surrounded by the turned-down decks fanned out. The Herbal Tarot shows elder flowers in the foreground. Behind the elder is a figure in a white cloak with a face obscured in shadow. Behind the figure is a mountain sunset landscape scene. The Motherpeace tarot shows a skeleton in the fetal position at the base of an alder tree surrounded by scattered yellow leaves. A red and yellow snake circles around the skeleton shedding its skin.

Dying is hard work.

Not many people like to look at or think about death so I don’t think this is common knowledge but dying is hard work.

Death is the ultimate in lessons on instability. Death is the ultimate in finding groundedness in uncertainty. Death is the teacher that we all fear but all must face- it is a teacher that enters our lives time and time again, is all around us at all times, and is hidden in plain site.

Death is change. Changes small and large alike. Death is the leaves falling from the trees, the death of the summer. Death is the transition from leaves on the trees to piles of leaves on the ground, the transition from piles of leaves on the ground to sticky, slippery leaves decimated by the rain and the weight of footsteps.

Death is when you lose your best friend because some life circumstances have made it so that your priorities in life no longer align.

Death is when you realize that that thing you do when you’re upset? It’s not working anymore, and what’s worse? Its hurting you.

We can fight death and live in pain, or we can embrace it and open ourselves up to experiences we hadn’t dreamed possible.

The pain of grief is excruciating and unbearable at times. It feels like falling into a pit of darkness to which there is no end. It infests every inch of our body and screams for our attention. Sometimes we can keep it at bay, through denial and avoidance, but not for long. It will whisper in our ears at night when we are trying to sleep. It will cross us when we are at our limit and make us explode and hurt others in the process. It will surface when everything becomes too much. Has that ever happened to you? There is some small disappointment and then the tears come. Suddenly everything and everyone in your life who has ever hurt you, every little failure and mistake are racing through your mind and it all feels like too much. Then the tears pass and we throw all of that junk back into the closet to forget about for a little while longer. But we remember what it was like to break down and we wonder if we are just completely broken.

We are not broken. We are grieving. We are avoiding the inevitable. We are quieting the messages our bodies have to tell us.

Dying is not easy. It is highly demanding. It requires that we get real with ourselves, that we assess our choices, our environment, our behaviors, our relationships, and make choices, and then ACT on those choices. When something is done, when something has served its purpose, it is over.

When we drag things on, they only weigh on us. The tree sheds its leaves to conserve its energy for the winter. Once the leaves have served their purpose, they are shed. In doing so, they make room for new growth, but only after the trees have enjoyed their nakedness for a little while. Have you ever let your hair grow very long and chopped a bunch of it off? I imagine that is how the tree feels in the fall.

In death’s ultimate physical form, we shed the very thing that gives us weight and a place on the earth. While this form is what allows us to experience this life- beautiful and painful alike, once it is shed we are free.

As I sat with the death card this week, what washed over me was pure reverence, appreciation for the paradox of death- that is the end and the beginning all at once, appreciation for the challenge that death presents us.

Death wants you to feel your grief, to embrace metamorphosis, painful as it is. Let grief enliven every last cell, let them be in harmony, let them be cacophonous, feel the energy move through you and watch it with gratitude. Let the sorrow make you wail and tears fall from your eyes like streams. Lie on the floor and heave in your sobbing. Be desperate. Beg for things to be what they once were, beg to just forget it all, beg for it to just go away. Get angry when you start to notice that your begging is for naught. Tell the object of your grief that you miss it, that you long for it, and that you wish that it could stay. Be broken for a little while. Trust that in time the pieces will fall back together, and you will be something entirely new. Never the same as you were before. It might be for the best. It might be for the worst. But you will keep going and find yourself again, humming in tune with life once more.

Death is all about surrendering to fate. Death is about allowing loss its way in your life, so that you may see the bigger picture. Death is where you witness your entire world be shaken, and yet in those same moments learn how, at the very same time, how much bigger this loss is than you, because that loss is making room for something new to take its place.

The message that the Death card wants to convey to you this week is to surrender. Sit still for a moment to appreciate the gravity of loss and change, and when you feel those waves of grief hit, let them pass through you. Do not impede them. It is through this grief that you will grow.

Love and blessings, dear ones.