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Is death your blind spot?

Before Christmas I had a chat with a dear friend and colleague. She’s an incredible coach doing very different work to me, not in the area of death, but of course it still comes into her life – both personally and professionally – at times.

The reason for this chat was that she’d been struggling with recent deaths in her life and simply wasn’t able to quite see her way through it.

This is where I came in. I offered to have a chat with her, see what was going on, and offer her some food for thought.

What we discovered as we talked it all through, was that death was her blind spot. She is an EPIC coach, helping people through all sorts of tough stuff and trauma…but when she tried to extend this as far out as death, everything she believed and the way she normally saw life fell away. Her normal empowered way of interpreting life and the world stopped about a foot before death. And instead she saw it much as most people do – terrible, unfair, traumatic, sad, regretable.

This is so very common. And it’s why I warn against expecting to lean on your spiritual and religious beliefs instead of doing grief work. The funny thing is that the religious and spiritual people tend to think they do better than the athesists do with their grief, due to their beliefs offering comfort. Also the atheists believe the religious and spiritual people do better than they do, for the same reason. But as someone who gets to talk to and observe everyone from the most spiritual and devoutly religious, to the most hardcore atheist, I can assure you that NO-ONE is automatically doing better than anyone else. For the same reason that my accomplished and wise friend was unable to apply her wisdom when it came to bereavement.

Because, for most people, death is just a step too damn far. It’s just too bad, and too serious, and too horrible. And all the ideas in the world about things happening for a reason, OR God having a plan, OR everything in our lives being able to be turned to our advantage, all go right out the window and become little more than lip service.

This isn’t about questioning anyone’s particular beliefs. It’s just about getting you to identify if you are truly able to apply your beliefs around death and grief, or if you’re just saying that you do.

Honestly is big here. If you can’t see it or admit to then it’s hard to do something about it.

The first step being awareness….then what is the next step? It’s to acknowledge that death is a blind spot for you. See that you just don’t see it in the same way as you may be able to see other “smaller” things that happen. And then look at it with curousity. Gently wondering how your belief fits here (rather than if) and what you might not have seen (with the awareness that there is about a metric shit-ton that you probably haven’t seen yet).

So, as with any blind spot, realise that you have one…and then look at it. I’ve found for most people that their deep-held spiritual and religious beliefs can be applied around death, as long as they’re willing to gently look and ask.



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