The Experience of Death
as Inner Transformation
Death impresses Itself upon every person at many points in their lives. Every culture and religion has its perspective on the dynamics and meaning of death. Entire libraries have been devoted to the study of death and dying, literally and figuratively. The following is one perspective on the Nature of Death as Transformation, literally in the experience of the natural dying process and figuratively in the cycles of deep, inner transformation.
Any inner transformation process that causes us to be a remarkably different person (within ourselves) after the process than the person we were before the process is, or at least entails, a Death passage. (Whether they include the natural dying process or not), every Death passage also entails a process of Rebirth on some level of our consciousness and the Death passage increases our awareness of, interaction with and manifestation of That which is Divine within us (regardless of our personal theistic or atheistic orientations -- whether we believe in God/Goddess [by any Name] or not).
Going from childhood into puberty involves a Death passage. Moving a thousand miles away from your best friend involves a Death passage. Depression; a classic Death passage. Attaining a graduate degree; another Death passage. Changing careers (or lovers); also Death passages. Motherhood; yes, even childbirth is a Death passage; (fatherhood included -- not exclusive of non-birth mothers and fathers). These are all deeply impacting experiences that change us deeply, personally and [for the most part] permanently; through them, aspects of oneself die, (i.e. are radically and dynamically transformed), promoting [sometimes forcing] individual rebirth in a variety of ways. Nevertheless, as valid as this argument may be for broadening our perspective on the processes of death in our lives, for most people, death is a term applied only to a process that is universally associated with a grim state of mortal finality.
Mortal death, specifically the Death passage of the natural dying process, is the most dynamic and sacred (and unjustly feared) Death passage we experience as human beings. Mortal Death removes us spiritually and psychically from the weights of the dense, material (physical) body in order to enable us to segue into a fully conscious and active life within the more subtle realms of existence, (such as those we experience during sleep, deep psychic perception, religious ecstacy or the rush of creative inspiration...), on a full time basis. [In accidental death or homicide, the introduction of the segue is exponentially more abrupt, but, generally speaking, the supranatural dynamics of Death still apply.] During the course of natural Death, the slow process of the separation of our subtle (spiritual and psychic) Self from our physical bodies is, most frequently, a comprehensively draining experience. For the dying individual, the drain is (all too unnecessarily often) to the extreme. This Death passage, being the most sacred, requires a sacred observance of and attendence to the process on the part of the dying individual and that person's community for the vitality and peace that are inherent to the process to be dynamically tapped and practically experienced by the dying individual and her/his community...
When, (as families, friends and communities of the physically dying), we do not shrink from the mortal Death passage, but maintain a sense of awe, reverence and communal attendance to natural dying processes of the passing individual, we make this experience mutually more sacred and provide the dying with a level of tranquility and security that enables them to feel supported and dignified during the process of death. When we incorporate music as a part of our palliative care, the sacredness of the passage is magnified and our attendance to the dying becomes exponentially more effective.