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Living While Dying

by Nancy Bragg

During COVID- 19,

death seems closer.

I am humbled by

this unstoppable virus.

I am facing my fragility.

My age makes me vulnerable.

I have asthma.

I am more aware of

the impermanence of life.

In this death phobic culture,

even before the pandemic,

death was inevitable.

Someday, my loved ones will die.

Someday, I will die.

I am dying.

We are all dying.

Some, who are dying,

crave “more time.”

Knowing I am dying,

enables me “more time”

to live while dying.

Let Me Die Laughing

from UUA Meditation Manual entitled Been in the Storm So Long

We are all dying, our lives always moving toward completion.

We need to learn to live with death, and to understand

That death is not the worst of all events.

We need to fear not death, but life---

empty lives,

loveless lives,

lives that do not build upon the gifts that each of

us have been given,

lives that are like living deaths,

lives which we never take the time to savor and appreciate,

lives in which we never pause to breathe deeply.

What we need to fear is not death, but squandering the lives we have been miraculously given.

So let me die laughing, savoring one of life’s crazy moments. Let me die holding the hand of one I love, and recalling that I tried to love and was loved in return. Let me die remembering that life has been good, and that I did what I could. But today, just remind me that I am dying so that I can live, savor, and love with all my heart.

Participants’ Reflections

  • During the meditation, my mind was filled with thoughts. I would go far away and be wrapped up in my thoughts. I told myself to go deeper. I put my consciousness in my belly, drained it from my brain. It’s like the process of eating. It’s a pleasure. When I eat and I'm not hungry, I’m eating for the sense of pleasure. I can enjoy thoughts which are superficial. There is a pleasure in going deeper, but it is a quiet pleasure, not flashy. Being present isn't as sensorial pleasurable as eating

  • Thank you for the reading. Most of my life I didn’t think about death. My mother died 8 years ago this week. Her death got me to explore death. Reading the Egyptian Book of the Dead, they say a person is around for 40 days after their death. Look at nature, it’s all about living and dying. I am more comfortable with death. What you said about living life is important. It is difficult to stay present in life. It’s all part of the process. It helps to have a group to help get through life.

  • I was tearing up during the reading thinking about loss. People can be lost, not just by death. There is loss when the intimacy is not there. My sister is anxiety-driven, and I can’t connect with her. This pandemic is forcing us to get reestablished, make new connections with people who are present. And for me to try to be the best person I can be.

  • With COVID, we are trying to avoid it and avoid death. I’m not spending enough effort in a positive way to live. My husband is older and I’m trying to protect him. There are other ways to take care of him and myself.

  • Facing the idea of death was scary, I don’t want to lose the people I love. As I become meditative, I am accepting it easier. Nothing lasts forever, everything is changing. There are always endings to the chapters of our lives, to jobs and so on. I’ve pondered it in the past. What if this is the last time I am doing something? Taking my dog on nature walks. What if I did know it was the last time? Would I rush the dog? Savor the moment more? I can appreciate the moment. Life is changing, sometimes we know it, sometimes we don’t. Taking it all for granted is not an option.

  • Thank you for the reading. It reminded me of all the milestones I’ve gone through in my life: menstruation, eyes changing, menopause. I approached them with laughter. Can I face death the same way? It’s easier to face it, having experienced mediumship.

  • Meditation gives me perspective. I remember camping by the beach once, and I heard traffic sounds. Then I realized it wasn’t traffic, it was the waves of the ocean. I had to adjust my brain. Death is ebb and flow. I’ve learned from those that have passed.

  • You can be in the wrong place at the wrong time or the right place at the right time. This is dependence on initial conditions. There never will be a time like today, when a person without a mask can change your life forever. Seize the moment. I haven’t been able to write, and last week I wrote a piece for a magazine. It felt good to know I can still do it. It gave me momentum. If I distance myself, I can do it. I get a feeling of what 1918 or the time of the plague was like. #meditation #meditations #spiritualjourney #mindfulliving #mindfulmeditation #lettinggo #facingdeath

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