A Reflection on the Beauty & Pain of Life and Death

When it comes to life and death, I believe that ultimately there is no right or wrong explanation as to how and why things happen. Every person is right in their own way because it is their unique nature, circumstance, and/or environment that colors their perspective. Each individual's logic is structured differently and each individual's spirituality exists in varying degrees. If this is true, then how can we all come to the same conclusions about such highly sensitive topics like life and death? In truth, we cannot.

In reflecting on my own experiences of losing loved ones, I have settled on a conclusion...at least for now. While it may be inaccurate, controversial or seem outright hokey, this conclusion resonates deeply with me. It makes sense to me but it may not make sense to you. And I am okay with that. My intent in writing this reflection is not to define how things must be or how they determinately are. My intent is to simply to share my perspective as it relates to my experiences. So as you read further, all I request of you is to be open.

Human sensory reception is the means by which humans react to changes in their environment. When we lose someone near and dear to us, the sensory human experience is to react and respond as though we are suffering from a loss, a result of the change in our environment. However, the five senses of touch, smell, taste, sight, and sound do not account for the intangible. Just because we can no longer see, touch, or hear someone does not mean they no longer with us. From what I’ve discovered, it is quite the opposite. They are with us and a part of us. Even though a human is not physically accessible as they once were, their soul always is. 

Love and loss can definitely be explained in scientific terms. For simplicity sake, I will explain in the most basic term. When we “love” someone, we are biologically hardwired to produce increases in dopamine, which leads to an increased blood flow to the caudate nucleus, a part of the brain that controls memory, learning, and emotion. Over time and with continual interactions with our loved ones, our bodies become 1) accustomed to the dopamine release and 2) have a neural circuit network built around the emotions/feelings evoked by any given individual. When we lose someone, we have thousands of neural circuits devoted to the lost person, and each of these has to be brought up and reconstructed to take into account the person’s absence. Because of the lack of dopamine and our body's attempt to reconfigure its neural networks, we experience what is commonly referred to as grief.

While science can surely explain what a loss causes, it cannot explain WHY the responses are triggered in the first place. Yes, it could be that we are experiencing a change in our environment but this is only true to a degree. When we move to a different city or when the weather changes unfavorably, we are experiencing an environmental change. However, it is important to note that with these types of experiences, we do not typically feel emotions in extremes as we do when we lose someone. This then begs the question of why. Why does the feeling of longing come upon us when someone passes away? Why does the feeling of pain come upon us? Why does the feeling of overwhelming sadness and grief overcome us? Science can explain how the mechanism works but does not have a definitive explanation as to what causes the mechanism to fire in the first place. We definitely know where these feelings come from but why are they triggered?

My answer: the soul. I believe that every human has a soul, which is part of a larger collective consciousness that exists within us and among us all. The human experience is a period in which the body temporarily houses the soul. As soon as a human life ends, the soul rejoins the collective consciousness. The soul breaks free of the limitations of the human body and exists in its purest form. In doing so, all those who interacted with this soul in the human experience feel what we call pain and loss. But in fact, this is the soul of our loved one touching ours. When we become extremely vulnerable as we do when we lose someone, we are burst wide open. We are receptive and we are deeply connected with our highest selves, our souls. Therefore, the soul of the one lost is felt with such great magnitude because we are ready and open to receive it.

Tahn - I believe that you no longer needed this worldly life to take the next step in your journey. Your soul - in all of its incredible beauty and radiance - broke free of the limitations of this human experience. And in that instant, it's boundless and magnificent energy spread far and wide, touching the lives of literally thousands of people. You rejoined our collective consciousness and by doing so, sent waves and waves of love around the world. I saw it with my own eyes. Many have said that we lost you too soon. I may stand alone in this, but I don't believe that we lost you, even though our sensory human experience tells us that you are gone. But you're not. You're not lost. You're not gone. Your presence is so real and so tangible. Your love is palpable. I feel closer to you now more than ever. You are truly truly alive...not because I can see, hear, touch, or smell you, but because I can feel that brilliant soul of yours right next to mine. 

To Tariq Uncle, Erin, Kabeer, and Tony - over the last 5 years, as each of you took the next step in your souls' journeys, my growth compounded exponentially and my perspective shifted tremendously. You have taught me how to understand pain, how to accept the death of this human body, and have revealed, more and more, the true beauty of the soul's life beyond what we can see. 

The five of you have transcended this human experience and exist now in your purest form. I am infinitely grateful to live this life with that version of you right by my side. I promise to always remain open and share my soul with you so I can feel you close...always and forever. I love you.