Everyone has their own opinions about death, and for many people religion serves as a way to provide some insight or guidance on what it means or how to deal with it, but especially for those of us who work in senior housing in Seattle, we see more than our fair share of loved ones pass on.
Perhaps one of the most shocking parts is that families don’t talk about death or funeral planning often. It’s a taboo that only becomes more difficult to talk about as our elders get older. It’s tough when our senior care advisors are the ones that need to break it to families that it is a reality, it is going to happen, and it will be far less stressful if it’s handled in a timely fashion.
So, part of the reason we posed this question, “How can death be transformative?” is to provide people with comfort; with some thoughts on how to view death positively – in other words, not in a pessimistic, “bringing your day down” kind of way. You should not ignore death, but you should talk about it – it’s healthy.
Being that we do work amongst senior housing in Seattle, it’s only fitting that we should mention Bruce Lee (who is buried over in Capitol Hill).
Among many (MANY) other things, Bruce Lee was a philosopher and even a poet – yes, really. One of the things he spoke of often was how we should be “like water.” In fact, he said:
“Don’t get set into one form, adapt it and build your own, and let it grow, be like water. Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless — like water. Now you put water in a cup, it becomes the cup; You put water into a bottle it becomes the bottle; You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.”
And there’s a great wealth of information to draw from this, especially if your loved one is living in senior housing in Seattle.
I don’t like to draw quotes between quotes, but there’s an inspirational one out there that says something to extent of “you are not a drop in an ocean, but an ocean in a drop,” or something to that effect. While some might read into that quote as being a bit too solipsist, it means a lot when you apply it after Bruce Lee’s teaching.
Essentially, he’s saying that your body might be the container (cup/bottle/teapot), but it doesn’t control you because water is shapeless, formless – in essence, spontaneous. You and everyone else are so much more than simply a container, but you can “flow” or “crash,” and there’s something very transcendental about that.
You are more than your body and it doesn’t matter what religion you are to believe that. There is something behind your eyes; something about our consciousness that elevates us above other animals. Maybe that “something” is the real us, the entire body of water, and right now, we’re just living in a cup and when the cup (body) breaks, we’re free from all limitations.
There’s something beautiful about that.
If your elder resides in senior housing in Seattle, I highly recommend you take them out to Bruce Lee’s grave – even once. There’s a reason he is an icon – he’s a thinker and death is especially something that’s worth thinking about.
Death can be transformative, lead to new beginnings, potentially greater beginnings. It does not need to be morbid. It can be transcendental.