By: Analyn Revilla
I am self-conscious in my new outfit, a widow of a tragic accident, but my self-awareness is still intact. I will shush the self-conscious one and let the self-aware wise woman on the hill write so that I can get on with the task of living authentically.
The last three and half months has been an inward and outward journey. I feel I’ve exploded and imploded at the same time. To make sense of death the way it came upon Bruno and our life is still beyond making sense to me. Maybe someone else has the answers so I talk to others who’ve been through this and I read a lot. I found a copy of “Further Along The Road Less Traveled” by psychiatrist and educator M. Scott Peck. The third chapter, “The Issue of Death and Meaning”, speaks how society has a tendency to turn away from the reality of death. He observed, “Of course, most people have very little taste for struggling with the idea of their death. They do not even want to think about it. They want to exclude it from their awareness thereby limiting their consciousness.”
Yesterday, Monday morning, I racked my head for what to blog about. I struggled with not writing from the shoes I’m wearing; one who has just lost a dear loved one, my husband. But nothing else has occupied my mind other than that loss. What can I contribute from my perspective? I asked myself. At this moment I can share that the pain, suffering and sorrow have expanded my consciousness. It is a loss of innocence, not unlike losing one’s virginity that opens a new dimension to living and dying. Losing sexual innocence is not just the ecstasy of a sexual relationship but the wholeness of losing oneself in a relationship – the whole gamut of sharing inner and outer space together with someone you’ve chosen and whose chosen you.
There was supreme joy in finding that special one, Bruno, who loved me for who I am and not what I am. His joie de vivre and compassion attracted all kinds of people and he accepted them all. We were enthralled by his burning bright flame till one day that light was snuffed out. The pain of the loss is confounded by the suffering of the suddenness and unexpected death; and deepened by a hit and run accident on his motorcycle, only five minutes away from home. All that is a tape that plays over and over. I get relief by meditating, gardening, eating, drinking and trying to get on with life again.
Death is a shadow on my shoulder, but I don’t carry it in a morbid sense. I appreciate the circle of support I’ve received from friends and family. I encounter loving and caring words and gestures from strangers whose heard about it, or with whom I’ve shared the news with directly.
In Elizabeth Kubler Ross’ book, “On Death and Dying” she identifies the stages a person who is dying can experience and these are: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. These stages are also the same process that a person experiences in steps towards psychological or spiritual growth.
I cannot say it better than how M. Scott Peck ends the third chapter other than to quote him directly:
It is not an easy journey. The tentacles of narcissism are subtle and penetrating and have to be hacked away day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, decade after decade. Forty years after first recognizing my own narcissism, I am still hacking.
It is not an easy journey (he repeats), but what a worthwhile journey it is. Because the further we proceed in diminishing our narcissism, our self-centeredness and sense of self-importance the more we discover ourselves becoming not only less fearful of death, but also less fearful of life. And we become more loving. No longer burdened by the need to protect ourselves, we are able to lift our eyes off ourselves and to truly recognize others. And we begin to experience a sustained, underlying kind of happiness that we’ve never experienced before as we become progressively more self-forgetful and hence more able to remember God.
I hack away at the weeds daily, throughout the day and the night, hoping and hoping that light will pour in through the crack.