I hate death.
Or, I used to.
I hated death until my dad died six months ago.
This may sound wrong, I know, but let me reassure you, I adored my dad. I adored him despite his lifelong struggle with depression and his tendency to pull away from us – even me – when his anxiety got too big for him to be in the room with the rest of us.
So, let me tell you why I no longer hate death, before you judge me.
It’s actually death itself, (not my dad’s absence) which is teaching me not to hate, or to resist, death.
I’ve been raging against death since I was a little girl. Literally. I would tug at my mother’s pants and insist, “But why? WHY does everything we love have to come to an end?”
But then, I came face to face with the thing I’ve hated and resisted for so long … for 54 years to be exact. It’s not that other people I’ve loved haven’t died. They have. All four of my grandparents. My step-dad, who I was very close to and who was a fantastic grandfather to my kids. Harry, my step-dad, was actually a better grandfather than my biological dad, Elliot.
But my dad and I were a lot alike. In the first week after he died, my step-mom even said to me, “Well, Barbara, since you are his clone…” He was there for me as I struggled through my own cycles of anxiety and depression, never judging me. He always reminded me to “Go get ‘em, sweetie!” and “To not let the bastards grind me down!” He also taught me that, “Everyone is doing what they need to do survive.”
Why don’t I hate or resist death anymore?
Death took away this version, or particular embodiment, of unconditional love from me. But, death didn’t take my dad away from me. In fact, in a phone conversation with my step-mom recently, I felt the particular love my dad created on this Earth. I felt it so strongly—in fact, we both felt it — and we later described that phone call as “heavenly.”
Now, we’re not true believers—either one of us—in any traditional or religious sense of the word. But, there was no way to avoid his presence on the phone with us. There was no way not to acknowledge the presence of his spirit through our tears. So, despite myself, I’m thankful to death today, for teaching me love can’t be destroyed or erased.
Love lives on beyond our bodies.
Love is right here. Right now.
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Barbara, thank you for sharing your love for your father and your experience with and beyond his passing. I, too, have spent a lifetime coming to terms with death. My beloved father died when I was 8, after a 6-year illness. He had also been holding me, showing me the rapids in the Potomac River, when I slipped from his arms and was washed away when I was 2 1/2. At first I was scared and confused, but then I found myself in a bright place with a beautiful lady, who looked like the good witch in the Wizard of Oz. She was sitting and I was standing in front of her, and I felt like I was about 6, with good verbal skills even though the body that was still in the water was only 2 1/2 years old. I told her that it was harder “down there” than I remembered. I realized that my father would be devastated if I didn’t go back, so I returned to my body after it had been taken to a hospital by ambulance. My parents were overjoyed when I woke up and I felt, momentarily, that all their frustrations with me were forgiven. Although my conscious mind forgot this incident, I always knew there was something good about me and about death. After my father died 6 years later, I spent the rest of my life searching for the meaning of life and death. During times of crisis, I would occasionally be given profound insights over the years. In my 30’s, I felt a stream of pure LOVE pouring into me, filling me up, and opening my heart, which had felt so unloved since Daddy died. In my 40’s, I had a vision of myself writing a book and stated my intention to “help people deal with death and dying, as Elisabeth Kubler-Ross has,” which came out of my mouth without premeditation. In my 50’s, I received my Master of Divinity as a Unitarian-Universalist chaplain. I spent many hours with patients and their families, bringing the message of unconditional LOVE to each one and knowing that death is not the end, but a joyous homecoming for the deceased. In my 60’s, I wrote a book about the Profound LOVE always present for us all, but more fully felt when out of our bodies, quoting over 100 near-death experiencers. Now in my 70’s, I volunteer on All Soul’s funeral team, mourning with the living, but always remembering that LOVE never ends.
[…] Rev. Barbara Prose shares about the recent death of her father in Death: Hating, Accepting, and finding Love. […]