A friend of mine has a family member who is slowly dying of cancer and it makes me think a little about the process this stoic group is going through and ideas that have been spinning around in my head that I just want to get out.
As you know, I have been reading, looking and sketching about death and what it means--particularly with a focus on the Puritan view of death. It has been an engaging process to gather and store the symbols and traditions that have existed and evolved as a way for people to be helped to comprehend death without explaining why. I was struck by the Puritan view of death being a portal, a door into another place and not the end of life but a transition that we only understand until the person passes through into that unknown space, time, zone.
I have also been intrigued by the concept of the bodily remains, and the spirit (also called the "departed"). As our brain, the chemistry and memories are part of the remains--does this mean the spirit is "unintelligent"? Or is there an aspect of the brain, the energy, the memories, the personal essence that goes beyond the physical and is fused with the spirit?
We are by nature, delicate creatures. I am always startled by people dying due to an accident or a sudden shock to their system. This immediate action causes death, separating the body from the spirit and soul--quickly, shocking. A heart attack or immediate physical breakdown does the same. A physical jolt to crack the connection of the body and spirit. However, when someone is suffering, sick and slowly breaking down, the body is pulling away allowing the spirit space to depart. The person participates in the break down of the body, the shift of chemistry, the dessication of the physical to give the spirit the power to separate. There is tremendous power of life entering this world we know it and we have participated in the energy or power of the spirit departing to another life we cannot define and are questing to better understand.