by Karen Frazier, Managing Editor
Paranormal Underground Magazine
It’s been a tough week in so many ways. As I mentioned earlier this week, our community has been dealing with the death of a very popular music teacher at the high school. Last night, NBC repeatedly showed the senseless tragedy that was the death of Georgian luger, Nodar Kmuaritashvili during their Olympic coverage. Once was enough. After the first one, I covered my eyes. Unfortunately, my son didn’t. This morning, I awoke to the news of my sister’s mother-in-law’s passing. Death has come to visit this week with all of the sadness, horror, reminders and affirmations that are part of the package.
Death is almost always shocking, and it certainly feels tragic. Especially when one is so young or the tragedy seems preventable.
My first experience with senseless death was when I was 16. I’d experienced other deaths before – but they were the deaths of people who were old and ill. My grandfather (who was in his 70s) died when I was about 12. A few short months later, so did my great uncle. While I was sad, that was expected. It took six years before unexpected death came to visit, but then it did in a big way. I started with the death of my friend, Dan Rick, who was mowed down by a drunk driver while he was helping a friend change a tire along the side of the freeway. About five months later, another young man my age was killed in a football game between our high school and the cross-town rival team. The third came rather rapidly on the heels of that – a suicide of another boy my age from the high school across town.
It was a distressing time for high school students, that’s for certain. During that six-month period, I struggled with huge issues of life and death. I learned how fleeting life can be, how random tragedy can seem, and how precise the circumstances that lead to death often are. I went over it repeatedly in my head. If Dan had just left the house one minute earlier, he would never have received the phone call to come help (after all – this was in the days before cell phones). If the football player had taken one step to the left or the right, he could have avoided the tackle that ended his life. And if those two events hadn’t occurred, would the suicide have followed? On and on in my mind, I replayed the scenarios, rearranging them so that everyone lived. And I never said a word to anyone about what was going on inside. Dealing with death, it seems, is a very private venture.
About six months ago, my stepson Kevin’s long-time babysitter died rather suddenly and abruptly. Kevin was there when it happened. His mother brought him down to our house the next morning, just to get him away from everything. He didn’t want to talk about it. He behaved like he always did, but I’m sure his mind was racing. I asked my parents – who teach parenting classes – what to do. Encourage talking? Push him to talk? They said to just let him know that if he needed to talk, we would listen. He never did. It was as if it had never happened. Kevin is like me, it seems. Dealing with death is private – something that he keeps in his mind.
Then comes this week, and I am watching another of my children sort out the whole life/death thing at a very young age in his own way. Tanner, who is 13, has been very quiet. He’s seemed tired and a little out of sorts. He’s practiced both his saxophone and percussion without any prompting. It is as if he is trying to mitigate the pain of his music teachers who have experienced such great loss at the death of their friend and colleague by making sure that nothing he does causes them even a moment of discomfort. Or maybe he has realized that life is fleeting, tragic things happen, and the time to embrace the people and things he loves is right now.
We’ve talked about it a little. He knows that I am here to talk and to listen. Death has become personal to him. It has become real. He has learned – as I did when I was 16 – that people die – often in unexpected and shocking ways.
Life and death – they are all interwoven. By experiencing the death of another, we reflect not only on the life of the person who has died, but we reflect on our own lives, as well. Death is a reminder of what is important. It is a transition into a realm that we don’t know or understand. And coming to terms with death is something that we do alone, even as we are surrounded by those people who love us. This I know to be true. I can be there for Tanner. I can listen to him talk and answer his questions. But coming to terms with death is something that he will do in his own time in his own way.
Long ago, I developed my own way of coming to terms with that part of life that is death. It started when I was 12 and experienced the deaths of my grandfather and uncle in such close succession. It has evolved and changed in the 30 some years that have followed.
I’ve come to believe that death is just another form of life. The pain in death remains among the living. To me, death isn’t a Light being snuffed out. Instead, I believe that death is a Light, going Home. The sadness and pain of death – that is unique to those of us who are left behind. From our human perspectives, it is difficult understand because the glimpses of Home we’ve had, if any, are so faint, so few, and so far between.
I once watched a man die. Not physically, but I watched him prepare. He was a minister, and he shared his progression towards death in a blog with all of those whose lives he had touched along the way. I was one of those lives. I was equally moved by his process of dying. It was conscious. It was willing. It was beautiful. His arms were open and his Light shone brightly as he prepared to go Home.
The Light is there. It is there in the beginning of life and it is there in the end. That means the Light is there in the middle, too. Sometimes we hide it. Sometimes others hide it from us. But it is there, waiting to be discovered. Death reminds me that I want to discover that Light in the here and now – when I am embodied. It may be my life’s work this time around – discovering that Light. That is my very private way of dealing with the death that has come this week. By rededicating myself to Light. Sharing it and receiving it – before it’s too late.
when her days come to twilight
in the peaceful hush that is the end of her life
she dances with her Maker
a soft, slow waltz
to a song that whispers
earth slips away
leaving only gossamer fluttering behind
to brush those she loves
with an echo of her presence
when the day comes
for each of her beloved
to begin the dance
her voice will joyfully join in
singing louder than the rest
Left behind we watch
As you drift away
Unable to comprehend
How you can smile
At a time like this
Your eyes are on the heavens
Ours are on the horizon
As we look forward and see
Emptiness in the space
That you now occupy
Your consciousness expands outward
Into the universe
Our consciousness shifts inward
To probe a wound
Raw with your leaving
We wonder at your peace
In the presence of our pain
Unable to understand
Your smile of compassion
At our turmoil
Lost in our physical selves
We never take the time
To experience the process
And when we do
We wrap ourselves in grief
Instead of bursting with the Joy
At the Grace of a loved One
Enjoy reading Karen’s blog? Her new book, Avalanche of Spirits: The Ghosts of Wellington> is now available. Click here to buy.