Sunday, March 6, 2011

Love And Will

Years ago, I read a book by Rollo May entitled, Love and Will. I really don't remember much about it other than this one good thing which helped me over the years, to come to terms with death.

He compared the attitudes present in the 50's and prior to this decade and I would include the 60s even, when most of us were very uncomfortable talking about the topic of sex or our perceptions were askew.

Rollo May's conjecture was that today we have replaced the taboo of sex talk, with death talk. This makes so much sense to me, as I have observed this over and over, in my own personal life and in the lives of others and our response or lack of it, toward death. It has become so removed from our lives for a myriad of reasons. No longer do we hold funerals and wakes in our homes. Death and/or life has become something the medical world is able to prolong or disconnect with machines, and we have created a culture of disconnection with so many things that were once considered as being a normal part of human interaction and in particular, death as being a very natural process, at the end of our lives.

We often fear death and are in denial that it is happening. We run away, not knowing how to help ourselves or others accept and come to terms with the loss of those we love, including ourselves. What do we do and what do we say?

In the past, I could never understand how people could work with those in palliative care. I've learned that this is a real way for others to intimately understand what life is about, through death and dying. I think death has never been so foreign to us as it is now; compared to life in the past, where death was very much a large part of life. It was a time, when there was no such thing as funeral homes, life support machines and death was not a disconnect from, ourselves, our families and communities on whom we could rely and receive our support and strength.

I think of another book by Jean Vanier, In Weakness Strength. He writes about how there is strength to be found in our weakness. I am also reminded of something I once heard about the cross being heavy for those who drag it and light for those who embrace it.

And so, I've learned that if I embrace my own weakness, burdens and struggles, I can better accept them and share with others, and we can both enable each other to become strong, if I have faith in myself, in others and in the God of my understanding.

In helping others in difficult times of loss and grief, I begin to understand the preciousness and fragility of life and that death is the natural, vital and important conclusion to life and I can learn to live compassionately, giving my life depth of meaning.

I have learned the most about life, through death, and have always thought I was very blessed to be drawn to creativity, expressing myself through art, writing, music, dance. These always have helped me greatly and were therapeutic and transforming, during times of loss and grief. I found a site while looking for a picture to for today's post and I have high lighted it.

Growth begins when we begin to accept our own weakness ~ Jean Vanier

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