I was listening to a podcast and heard an end of life doula say something she felt was very profound…that “death is the meaning of life”.
I’ve heard it before. It’s not new. But today was the first day I actually stopped to think about what it meant. And is it true?
Death as The Meaning of Life?
Explain this to me, because I don’t understand how Death is the Meaning of life. Does it really mean death gives life meaning? Cuz that I could KINDA understand. But death AS the meaning of life? No. That doesn’t make sense.
Death is the meaning of life. No, sorry. I don’t think so.
But it is true that life would have no meaning without death. The finiteness of life is what causes us to not take it for granted and when you don’t take something for granted you tend to find meaning in it.
Birth and death act as a container for life. “You have this moment called life and we mark it at birth here and at death here.” Life is not just what happens in between those points, but it includes those points as well.
It is because of that container, that finite space, that as humans we believe we must fill that container with meaning. So in that respect I can see how someone can think that death is the meaning of life. But only if they are talking about death creating the need for meaning in life.
Speaking of Finding Meaning in Life
Here’s one of the most primal existential questions of all…
Where does the need to find meaning in life come from? Why do we as humans feel the need to have our lives make sense? Or to mean something?
We are existential beings. Spiritual beings having the experience of being human. I used to think we were human beings having spiritual experiences, but that shifted as I aged and my perspectives changed.
Because one’s Soul or Spirit is immortal, it makes sense that it is the Soul that has a Human Body not a Human Body that has a Soul. The two together: human body and Soul make up the Human Being. Thus we are Spirit having the experience of being human.
This is where I think the need to find meaning comes.
I think it is the Soul that sets the agenda for the lifetime and it is the Soul that prods and urges the Human Body -cuz the mind is part of the body, right?-to find the meaning in life. It is in the place of meaning that the Human Body intersects and integrates with its Soul.
Now where does the need for meaning in life stem from if one is Humanist for instance? Or Atheist? That is a great question. One I cannot answer since I wear the goggles of Spirituality, so I will open up the floor to any Humanist or Atheist who would like to come on to discuss that very thing. We could do a YouTube interview!
While I think WHERE one surmises the prodding comes from might be different depending on religious, philosophical and cultural views, I think the meaning of life is the same for everyone.
The Meaning of Life According To Me
You all are going to think this is corny as hell and trite and maybe even cliche´ but I’ve thought about this for a very long time.
Death causes us to appreciate Life, by making it limited in time, Death makes Life more valuable. Something to be cherished and embraced. Thus Death gives life meaning, but is not the meaning of life.
The meaning of life is Love.
That’s it. That is the meaning of life…to explore all the aspects and wonders and powers that love holds in its many forms. And it would take several lifetimes to explore all the aspects of love, don’t you think? I mean there are self-love lessons, love of community lessons, romantic love lessons, love of others lessons, love as a healer lessons etc. etc etc
Everything boils down to experiences of love. How to love in the most challenging of circumstances. How to love yourself. How to love someone who’s hurt you. How to love unconditionally.
Love in the face of fear. Love in the face of hate. Love.
The whole point of life is love. To create and develop a life filled with love and then that love multiplies to others.
Love Is Simple But Not Easy
When someone does something unloving towards us, it’s hard to imagine feeling loving towards them. Yet when we are in our pain and we lash out at another, we often want that person to understand where we were coming from. We want them to show us compassion. And compassion is just another word for love.
So, why not start the trend of sending love to someone who has treated you unlovingly? You don’t have to date them. Or even engage with them. All you need do is take a minute to get yourself connected to Source, allow your heart to fill then send the overflow to that person who treated you unlovingly.
You won’t likely know whether or not this affects change in that person, though metaphysically speaking I can tell you a change happens, but a more significant change happens within your own self. It won’t just be a mindset shift, but an energetic shift as well. And what happens when you create an energetic shift is that everything energetic around you is shifted too. It is a true ripple effect because all energy is connected in this Universe. Just like all the water in an ocean is connected.
When you affect one part you are affecting the whole thing.
I lived the first half of my life thinking I needed to earn love. That I needed to do something to deserve it. That I needed to MAKE people love me. And That it was a commodity that could be and would be rationed, doled out, and withdrawn at another’s discretion.
I was a passive participant in love. I begged people to love me and when people loved me whom I didn’t beg, then I didn’t value it. If someone loved me easily, then “It didn’t count”, somehow.
What I now know is love is infinite. Love is abundant and I – yes I in big bold capital letter I- am the Source of it. Love starts with ME. I don’t wait for love to happen, I just love.
Is it easy? NO. I still struggle, for instance, with trying to send love to my ex-husband’s “widow” who married him 21 days before he died with brain cancer, who stole my daughter and step-daughter’s house and inheritance, who tied me up in court for years costing me tens of thousands in legal fees, who hasn’t returned my possessions that my ex was keeping for me, etc… I am still struggling with that. I am angry. I am hurt. But every day that I think about the situation and her I put effort into connecting to Source and sending her love. If I can help her be a better person to someone else down the road then I feel it is my duty.
BUT DAMMIT TO HELL IT IS A CHALLENGE!
The thing is I feel better after spending that time sending her love, than I do when I spent the same amount of time stewing and cursing her existence. I feel better. Again, capital bold face I.
Know what else happened? When I started doing that, I stopped thinking about her and the situation every day. Now it can actually be a month before I think about the things she stole from me and my family.
Looking For Love In All The Wrong Places
I wasted so much time, looking for love in all the wrong places. Searching for it in the eyes of men, of my family members, of my friends, of my elders. Always seeking for it outside myself.
What I found instead was a lot of rejection. I was basing my value on how many people really loved me, but because I kept associating with people who treated love as a commodity I never experienced real love at all. And instead of looking at those people as the reason they didn’t love me, I deemed myself unloveable for many years.
This self-imposed unloveable label only served to further drive home the narrative that I was incomplete, inept and ineligible for love. And that energy kept drawing more of those same kind of people to me. And it kept me in a loveless marriage. After all, if I could just fix myself to be lovable then all the pieces that I had gathered would suddenly fall into place.
Instead, I had to realize that I had collected pieces that weren’t even part of the puzzle I was putting together. It was never going to work with those pieces.
Loving myself enough to start over, start from scratch and start with me, made all the difference in the world. That’s when life started changing. First just the way I saw things changed, then I changed, and then slowly, one by one, things in my life started changing.
Death Creates an Urgency
Without death, there would be nothing to compel members to find meaning in life, because they would literally have all the time in the world. There would be no last chances, last dances or last words. There would be no good-byes. No ‘see you laters’. There would just be an endlessness of everything. There would be no container.
Love is the meaning of life AND love gives life meaning. All the love in the world won’t matter though if you don’t love yourself first, because you won’t be able to recognize love from anyone else if you don’t establish the standard with your own self-love.
And what would love be like with no death, I wonder? Would the absence of death change the experience of love at all? I think it would. At least for those widows/widowers who went on to find love again. Could people remain with the same spouse for all eternity on Earth?
No. Death is an important part of life on Earth. It is a necessary part of the cycle of life and needs to be revered as such, not denied. I haven’t figured out all the mysteries of life, for sure, but I’m certain of this. There is a purpose for every being and event in life. We may not know what that purpose is until long after we’ve crossed the veil, but I do believe we will one day discover it.
Death Lends Perspective
The finiteness of Life lends perspective. When we contemplate death we often can put things into a different perspective simply by asking ourselves how we will feel about this moment when we are on our deathbed.
Many years ago, after having worked in hospice for a number of years, I started to end each day asking myself how I would feel about it on my deathbed. Would this day matter? Would I even remember it? Will I be proud or have regrets? This afforded me the opportunity to begin to live differently thereby changing the circumstances of my own death no matter how many years or decades yet to come.
This, I discovered, is the secret to a ‘good death’. It isn’t where you die, or who you die with or without; who’s in the room, who’s not; if there are candles lit or music playing. It won’t even matter if you die being struck by a semi-tractor trailer at age 35 or die an old lady, an old lady warm in her bed (to quote Jack from Titanic).
A good death is a death with the least amount of unfinished business. It’s a death without regrets.
The only way to ensure that is to live a life of no regret.
And that is a great topic for another post so I’ll leave it right there.