The Best Thing about Death

What a gift this is! What a new perspective this gives to my existence! I don't have to go through life again in some sort of reincarnation. I don't have to spend an eternity in somebody else's heaven or hell. In fact, it has been said that heaven and hell are not places but choices. We choose to live in them right here in the present. With the perspective of Death, I don't have to wait for heaven. I can choose it now and make it what I want it to be.

Sure, I still have aches and pains, and some mornings they are worse than others. I still have demands on my time not of my choosing and financial limitations that preclude any wild abandon on my part. Yet from the perspective of Death, these are minor things. Death clarifies priorities. It helps me see which books I really want to read before I die, what places I really want to see, which people I really want in my life. It gives me impetus to continue learning and growing and exercising my body - not for some future goal, but for the sheer joy of doing these things now.

One of the greatest joys of any heaven we can create is the joy of our friends. The giving and receiving of love and the open-handed generosity of feasts and celebrations seem particularly appropriate during the Dark Time of the year. While I am sure the Pilgrims didn't plan it this way, it is a touch of magic that we gather for Thanksgiving so soon after Samhain. And after that is Yule with all its parties and celebrations. People seem to feel an instinctual urge to reach out and connect in the Dark season. The experience of our little death at Samhain seems to help us appreciate our friends and loved ones all the more. As we are driven inward by the cold and dark, we begin to see the light within ourselves and within each other. If this is the result of a "little death," how much more love and light can we see from the perspective of our final Death?

By some perverse logic, Death can be the instrument from which we fill our remaining years with Life. For me, that's the best thing about it.


This article was first published at and is reprinted with permission. Read Janice Van Cleve's prose poem reflecting on this topic here

Janice Van Cleve is a freelance writer for many magazines and some newspapers including Widdershins, Voice of Choices, Open Ways, Women Outdoors, Washington Trails, and the Seattle Gay News, among others. She is a priestess with Women Of The Goddess Circle in Seattle, a regular attendee at Spring Mysteries put on by the Aquarian Tabernacle Church, and Concentric Circles. 

2/2/2010 5:00:00 AM
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