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All death should be peaceful. Or should it?

All death should be peaceful.  Or should it?

Very often it is our beliefs around death and grief that cause us a lot of pain. Our feelings that things should be, or should have been, anything other than what they are or what they were.  And this particular train of thought is a good example. This idea that a ‘good death’ equals a peaceful, calm, or quiet death and that every death should be that way. The way we are (unhelpfully) shown consistently on tv and in movies.

There are a lot of similarities between how we see birth and how we see death (and how messed up the industries and the thinking around both can be.)

Both are huge and important experiences of massive transformation.

Both are very powerful experiences (this power can show up as pain).

Both you can prepare for but you can’t necessarily control or know what is coming.

Both are often seen as bad/painful/terrible experiences (and are largely fear-inducing and very misunderstood).

In both areas, at least in Western society, both have been handed over to external ‘authorities’ i.e. hospitals and funeral directors for death, and doctors and hospitals for birth…to the great detriment of both areas.

Both we see as ‘good’ if they are as pain-free as possible.

A ‘good birth’ is not necessarily pain-free. Nor is it always quiet (though it may be).  Nor is it necessarily meant to me. Death is the same.

I had a ‘good birth’ with my baby. I trusted myself and my body, and I couldn’t have been any further from quiet. I literally roared my baby into the world. Like some kind of wild animal.  I have a recording of me going through a strong contraction.  I just listened t it again. It’s pretty entertaining. I sound like a cross between a spooky ghost and some Native American Indian witch doctor singing up a rainstorm.  (Iis that a really un-PC thing to say? I’m thinking like the ones I’ve seen on telly).  At the end of the contraction I actually growl. Like a wolf. I roared so much, so long, and so loud that my midwife went out to let the doctors know we were ok, to stop them coming in unnecessarily.

If we meet in person sometime ask to hear it. Well that’s if you actually want to hear it of course. I’ve played it for friends. I’m told it’s hilarious.

My birth song was beautiful.  The experience was powerful, intense, all-encompassing, overwhelming. And quiet it was not. Some people have quiet, peaceful births.  Some don’t. I don’t believe it is meant to be one way or the other.

It is meant to be precisely what it is for you.

I believe a ‘good birth’ is any birth that you take the time to find the good in.  And you can find the good in any birth so long as you look.

Death is the same.

It is a powerful, important experience. And it is a huge experience.

It is not meant to be only peaceful and quiet all the time.

Maybe it will be for one person.  And maybe the next person will be brought to their knees with pain so that they are forced to finally open up, crack open their mask of ‘independence’, and be totally vulnerable with those they love.  And maybe the person after that will be brought to their most dependant – able to do nothing for themselves – so they can see those they love caring for them and finally understand that they are loved, not for their success, their wit, their strength, or their achievements, but simply because they exist. And maybe the person after that will roar themselves out of this life the way I roared my baby in to it. And maybe the person after that will smile, sigh gently, and slip away just like in the movies.

It is not meant to be one way or the other. Though it can be peaceful and quiet, not all deaths are and it does not need to meet this criteria to be a good death.  And the problem with expecting it to be so is that if you need your death, or the death of someone you love, to go a particular way for it to be a ‘good death’ then it’s more likely than not it won’t live up to your expectations.  Because you are not in control. And you’ll end up seeing no value or meaning or beauty in a very valuable, meaningful, beautiful event.

My daughter cried as soon as she was born.  Birth was a powerful experience for both of us.  When coming into this world can be a struggle why do we imagine that going out of it shouldn’t be?

I believe a good death is a death you have taken the time to find value, meaning, and beauty in. And that doesn’t depend on the circumstances of the death.

It depends on you.