When somebody dies others are invariably left behind. They often want to follow along into Eternal Meditation with the one they love. Perhaps this comes out of spiritual longing or simply because of the unbearable thought of being left alone. And so people close around a death are, for one reason or another, drawn into the dying process. Indeed, I’ve sat beside a person and felt drawn along with them as they fade away. And when, as a priest, I am involved with funerals or memorials the sense of being drawn in very evident.
My father, who seemed to know about such things, kindly warned me in advance that he might follow my mother quite quickly when she died. I said ‘That was fine by me’! I also said I thought there was enough going on in his life that would hold him here; me perhaps! Not that I think people make a conscious choice concerning the timing of death. I could be wrong though….
Here’s another thought. When close to death people often sleep, the deep breathing and sleeping noises seeming to confirm this. There is often a sense however that there is a profound turning within, and tranquility envelopes everything and everybody around them. Perhaps they are asleep perhaps they are meditating very deeply, who knows for sure. A person can ‘sleep’ through half a day a night and another half-day then open their eyes, looked out at those sitting close by and then up and leave. Just like that.
And sometimes people are paid a ‘visit’ just before they die. This is not uncommon either.