Updated: Jul 30, 2020
I was in my early teens when I ran away from home. It was a tough time for me and not for lack of love from my parents, but rather a lack of opportunity and coaching to process my grief. I believe I was 14 but those years are all a blur really. I didn't make it very far when I left the house, before my worried parents found me. I was given the choice by my father of coming home or going to jail (oy!). I chose coming home that same night and I didn't make it to my destination till many months (possibly years) later.
Where was I planning to go you may wonder....I bet you'd never guess-a cemetery. Armed with two of my closest friends, and an ache in my heart for the recent loss of my grandfather, I had wanted to do what I had been unable to do at his funeral- be present, calm and accepting of death. Death tends to be something we are left to figure out how to integrate in our lives on our own. We live as though it isn't going to happen and then we are surprised and shaken to our core when it does happen over and over again. Much like my surprise when I stand on a scale after 3 months of a pizza and pancake gorging. (What just happened!?).
When my Grandfather died, I went through all the stages of grief. The most private of all was my bartering with God... promising everything under the sun in exchange for more time with him. Which I concluded by his death, that I didn't get.
That event lead me to question my faith for many years following. Perhaps it is more accurate to say I relinquished my faith in afterlife for many years. I had no interest in considering that death was not the end or just the next step and a necessary part of our evolution through life. I could not embrace that the young and the old all have their place ebbing and flowing.
It felt very final to me until a couple of decades had past and I began to have more frequent exposures to it by force. I suppose I also grew my confidence in my spirituality and in my gift that lays between the lines of intuition and premonition and connection with those that have passed. (Long story).
Most recently, I was reintroduced to death as a celebration of life. When one of my best friends recently said she was flying to another province to sing at the funeral for a friend of hers that died, I wondered how she had the strength to sing at such a sombre gathering. I have great admiration for people who can attend funerals without curling into fetal position. I told her flatly I wouldn't be attending her own funeral whenever that may be. She seemed saddened and I retorted she wouldn't know if I was there anyway. (Funny/not funny Lara!).
Then, another friend in Nigeria mentioned passing through a town where the coffin dancers carried the corpse in a coffin and began an elaborate and uplifting celebration. I had mentioned this tradition to my son who said nonchalantly, "oh ya, there is a Coffin Dance on youtube" and he promptly showed me this clip here:
This got me thinking maybe my perception on death has been wrong all along. Perhaps if death was only what was next, rather than the end, it wouldn't feel so dreary and all consuming. How great it would be to dance my way through a funeral with laughter, and a sprinkling of tears instead of the hysterical mess I was at my Grandfather's event? But how does one learn something like that I wondered?