The Trouble with Death
By Matthew Joyce
Dying is easy. I’ve done it lots of times.
Explaining what death is, that’s a bit more complicated.
Other than public speaking, death ranks as most people’s ultimate fear. They fear it’s potential for pain; they fear the loss of connection to their loved ones and the world they know; they fear death’s finality. But more than anything else, people fear death because they fear the unknown.
We fear death because we don’t understand it.
We Fear Unknowns
That lack of understanding comes from having little experience with it.
In other eras, death was a common event. Even in fairly recent history, mortality rates were much higher. Lives were shorter. But more than that, death was something that people had direct experience with. They killed their own food, even if it was just chickens in the yard. They saw death at home, which was where most people died and were then prepared for burial, before we began hiding them away in hospitals, hospice centers and funeral homes.
Now death is something that is handled by specialists. Be they slaughter house workers or life-saving professionals like doctors and nurses, or experts in hospice care.
I have great respect for people who serve in these roles. The assistance they provide to those who are dying and to their families can be profound, and their perspectives on death can be insightful.
But looking at death from the perspective of life is like looking at the outside world through a window. There is still a barrier separating you from the experience itself.
The Trouble with Death
No matter how many times you watch something. No matter how well someone explains something to you. You just don’t understand it in the same way you do as when you do it yourself. There is no substitute for personal experience.
And that’s precisely the trouble with death.
Virtually everyone wants to send in a substitute. “Send in my understudy. Send in the pinch hitter. Send in anyone but me,” they think.
And of course it doesn’t work that way.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t explore death for yourself.
And more than that, I’ve lived to tell about it.
In the past life explorations I’ve done, I have relived dozens and dozens of deaths. So many I can’t count them.
I’ve been shot, stabbed, stoned, strangled, beaten, trampled, crucified, poisoned, killed by wild animals, and died in falls, car accidents and shipwrecks. And those were just the violent ones. I’ve also died of diseases and enjoyed easy release from sleep at a pleasant old age. In fact, I’ve had plenty of pleasant deaths. They just don’t make for as interesting storytelling.
Dying Means Changing Perspectives
The stories of my deaths have been as varied as the lifetimes that preceded the ends. But once I’ve started the death process, my transition has been remarkably similar each time.
Contrary to popular belief, in my experience, death doesn’t end in annihilation, blackness, or even forgetfulness. When I die, my sense of WHO I am in that lifetime continues on remarkably unchanged.
What changes is my perception of WHAT I am.
Throughout a lifetime, I move through life wearing a body, expressing a personality, and accumulating experiences from one moment to the next, year after year, decade after decade.
After dying I shift my sense of identity slightly. I go from thinking of myself as Matthew or whoever that personality was, to recognizing myself as the Being who lived as Matthew. I feel a bit like an actor who finishes his role as a character on a long-running show. But it’s more subtle than that because actors step out of their roles at the end of each performance, whereas I feel a sense of release from a continuous role of a lifetime.
A Sense of Release
The release itself, is an interesting thing.
No matter the circumstance that have led to my past deaths, at some point I have a feeling of release. Sometimes I’ve willed it to happen. Other times it has happened gracefully or forcefully. But no matter how it occurs, there comes a moment when I suddenly feel untethered and completely free.
If you’ve lived your whole life locked in the perspective of your physical body and your personality, the sense of release I’m talking about may be difficult to comprehend. To say it’s like a fish trying to comprehend existence beyond the ocean would be cliché.
So instead, I’ll tell you that it is like ending a lifetime in which you always wore your pants a size too small. You sucked yourself in and managed to get your pants buttoned, but they never fit quite right. You could move around, but you were always slightly limited and cramped. It’s all you know until you finally take off your pants and slip into a pair of sweatpants instead. Suddenly you’re comfortable and free. The limitations you knew previously have been miraculously lifted.
What Death Feels Like
When I die I feel free of all physical pain and suffering. My perspective is clearer than it ever was while I was alive. I feel more connected to Source energy. I still retain a sense of who I was, but now I see my life from a broader perspective.
When I die I almost always find myself thinking, “I’m free. I’m glad that’s over.” But then I also think about the people I love. The things I’ve accomplished and those I didn’t. The things I wish I had done better and those I wish could still do. But more than anything else, I feel a sense of exhilaration at returning to my natural state of being.
After dying enough times, I now think of my physical body as a time-and-space suit that makes it possible to navigate in physical reality. When I die I get to take off the bulky suit and continue my existence without it. I get to end my tour of duty and enjoy some well-earned rest and relaxation.
What Death Is
Which finally brings me to what death is.
In my experience, death is a transition process that frees my awareness from my physical body. It’s a process by which my consciousness disconnects from the cells in my body and returns to a larger energy field in nonphysical form. Death is the start of the process of returning home.
What happens after you die is a grand adventure that is every bit as exciting as the lifetime you’ve just left behind. But that’s a topic for another article.
Something to Look Forward to
So I’ll end by saying that contrary to being something I fear, death is actually something I look forward to.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m in no hurry for it. I’ve got a lot to do and to live for yet before I’ll be ready to go. In a way, it’s a bit like Christmas morning for me. I look forward to it every year, but I wouldn’t want to miss out on all the experiences awaiting on the days between holidays.
Life is something to be enjoyed with great relish. So is death.
At least for me it is.
But, then, I also enjoy public speaking.
Read more articles, and if you haven’t done so already:
(That’s a hint!)