There’s a curious flaw in the ego story we develop to try and control life. We avoid writing an ending as that would mean an end of control. When the inevitable end begins to approach, the story begins to fall apart.
For example, if the memory starts to go, that can really make keeping track of grievances a challenge. Some just let them go. Some might shift to what’s wrong right now.
I’ve observed that elders tend to become either mellow or grumpy with age. Are they adding up moments of happiness or making a list of disappointments? Do we see the legacy of family and those we’ve supported or an absorption in empty accomplishments? It can certainly be a time of reckoning.
In our culture, we have forgotten the role of elders. This has left many without a role, often coming apart alone or surrounded by others in the same boat. When you cease to be self-sufficient, your purpose seems to end. Yet we are simultaneously massively extending lifespan.
There is a deeper aspect of this to explore. As the end of life approaches, the pieces that hold the personality together can begin to come apart. We can begin to forget our stories or the threads break or the energy isn’t there to keep it all going.
If death has been an unconsidered gap or is seen as a void, it’s approach can bring deep fear. Add in our wish to avoid the unavoidable pains of a deteriorating body. And then the disintegration of who we’ve seen ourselves to be and you have recipe for profound fear.
Ironically, many people spend lifetimes seeking ways to disintegrate the ego. Yet seniors residences are full of people surrendering to dissolution. Some willingly. Some much less so.
Those who are able to surrender to the process of closing this chapter have a magnificent passing. People will report how all of their grievances ended. They simply radiated with love or happiness. They may report profound experiences and visions of the “other side.” I explored some of these steps back on On Death.
Funnily enough, even those who fight and struggle to the bitter end meet the same fate. No matter how we get there, we all come home. The trick is, if we fight it, we’re obligated to come back and do it again until we get the process right.
That’s the kind of school we’re in. Life is about getting it. Or in a deeper way, letting go of it. Until we get 100%, we get a new lesson to get another angle. This is not because God is a hard task master. It’s because the highest qualities of being are of such a high quality, it requires a fine polish for us to stand in that light.
It’s all about getting ready.
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