When does Death Nesting Become Necessary?
To me, it begins now, with the first precious breath, and in your own home.
When we arrive alive here on earth, we are guaranteed only one thing: we will die. We may not be loved, cared for, or fed, but we will one day die. We may be very well loved, abundantly nourished, supremely cared for, and yet we will die. Why not then, befriend death as it is our very closest mortal companion.
Death Nesting is how you live your life. It is the attention you pay to your breath, your walk, how you experience taste, whether or not you take offense to someone forgetting your name or how you react when being cut off in traffic. It’s the challenges you accept and the allowances you give to yourself and others in times of stress or grieving or when your children are driving you bonkers. Death Nesting is fully and deeply living your life because of death.
Death Nesting is what you do to prepare for your time of death — whether it is sudden or prolonged, your death will impact your community and those who know or love you. How you lived your life will give cues to other about how they should process your death. If you and your friends turned to heavy drinking and chaos in times of grief, this is how they will engage when you die as well. If you were bottled up, tight lipped and stingy, this is likely how others will engage in processing your death. If you lived your life openly discussing dying and death this is how others will turn to each other to process your death.
Begin with yourself.
Begin Death Nesting by loving and forgiving yourself, and by engaging in healthy challenges to uplift your home, your community and the planet that we share. When you have realized the preciousness of your own life — because of death — you will be able to offer this same generosity to others.
I love myself through the pain I have unintentionally inflicted, and I can do the same for you.
I forgive myself for acting in a less than awesome way because I did not have the bandwidth to do otherwise at the time… and I can do the same for you.
When you lean in to this kind of relationship with self-kindness, you find you have less emotional “burn out” when working with others as a caregiver, a partner, a friend, and as a parent. When you have a thorough understanding of your own mortality, and preciousness of life, you can hold your frustrations with your children a little more fully. You can recognize that your child’s behavior is not who they are. But rather, it is what they are currently doing. This viewpoint allows more space for change in you and in them. Of course, it does not mean that you allow them to trapse all over you… Instead, you set clear boundaries with less anger and less impact on our own feelings and emotional health.
Could you engage in this kind of generosity with other adults? Might it improve your own life if you did?
Practice Death Nesting in your life.
(Death Nesting: Ancient & Modern Death Doula Techniques, Mindfulness Practices and Herbal Care, my new book, is currently available on Amazon and in bookstores mid-December. Look for my upcoming post in Medium on Death Nesting which is the space that is prepared for the physical death. )