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Life, Death and the Rest

My dear grandmother turned 105 years old on November 20th. Lately, she has been distant which made me reflect on life, death and the rest.

More Than a Century

Last Monday, November 20th, my dear grandmother turned 105 years old. She was the inspiration for several posts here on my blog. I once did a parallel between her lifestyle and Dan Buettner’s Blue Zones. She was also mentioned in my posts about gardening and cooking. Grandma is a fortress! A noteworthy matriarch, who raised and held together an incredible family. Lately, she has been distant and tired, no longer interacts as she used to, and recognizes few people. Hence my desire to reflect on life, death, and the rest.

New Perspective

I’ve been listening to Cathy Heller’s Podcast a lot lately. She is an inspiring woman with a contagious energy. Her interviews are amazing! The other day I listened to Cathy’s interview with Justin Baldoni. I’d never heard of the guy, but I fell in love with him even before the end of the interview. Justin is a remarkable man. To give you an idea, he wrote a book called Boys Will Be Boys Human, and his podcast is called Man Enough.

Contextualizing

A guy who sets out to talk about how to humanize boys and who has a Podcast as a means to discuss feelings from a male perspective is, at the very least, worthy of my high regard. In his interview with Cathy, Justin tells a little of his story – he started as an actor, made TV shows, voiced several characters for Disney animations, and ended up finding himself in film production. As he witnessed family members’ final moments, he became interested in the universe of life and death. Then, he traveled around the country to meet other terminally ill people and produced the documentary My Last Days. Later on, he produced films like Five Feet Apart and Clouds on the same subject.

Death

Through the experience of being with people on their deathbeds, Justin ended up perceiving death in a very particular way. His perspective was innovative for me. Sitting next to these people, he witnessed different ways of facing and preparing for death. After putting a lot of thought into it, he found out that there is indeed a way in which we should prepare for death.

The Preparation

Baldoni believes the ideal way to prepare for death is as we do for a vacation trip! I found it very interesting. If we know that the spiritual realm, or heaven, is a better place than Earth, why fear death? We should only cultivate the expectation of getting to know a new place. Or maybe return to a happy place forgotten in our unconscious mind.

Pregnancy

When a baby is in its mother’s womb, less than an inch separates him from the outside world. That little being doesn’t have the slightest idea of what life will be like on the outside. He doesn’t know about the existence of air, colors, or flavors. Comfortable and protected inside his little world, he has no clue of what’s needed to live on Earth. But he is being carefully prepared. His lungs are developing so he can breathe, and his ears and nose are forming to allow him to listen and smell the various sounds and aromas. But he’s not aware of any of that.

Birth

Besides all that is going on inside the mom’s belly, the preparations for the baby’s arrival are also intense on the outside. Everything is being fixed with love and care. Soon after delivery, the baby goes to dad’s arms and then to mom’s. Family members, eager to see the child, come visit. Surprisingly, death is no different – considering it is the re-birth of the spirit into eternal life. Our reception is also being prepared. We will be in the arms of the Father. Loved ones will come to visit with us. If we know we will be welcomed by loved ones, why not cultivate that expectation instead of fear?

Life, Death, and the Rest

As long as we live, we are being carefully prepared to be reborn in spirit. We know this truth in our subconscious mind. Just as babies are separated from the outside world by a thin layer of the mother’s belly, what separates us from the uncertain spiritual world is subtle. We’re also not sure how it’s going to be on the other side, but we’re being prepared. In the spectrum of the eternal spirit’s life, earthly time is only a small fragment, another pregnancy.

The Journey

We must prepare for our trip to the spiritual realm similarly as we pack our suitcases for a vacation trip. When traveling to the beach, we pack swimwear and light clothing. We pack boots, backpacks, and pants If going hiking. However, what we need to pack for our final trip is only non-material stuff. The last suitcase of this existence is our heart. What we need for the final destination is only virtues.

Virtues

The virtues that we have acquired throughout our walk on Earth will be carried in our hearts forever. Everything we go through in this life is so that we can acquire noble virtues. All the challenges, difficulties, sufferings, and even happiness are learning opportunities. That’s all part of our preparation. Some people prepare themselves faster than others. Nonetheless, we are all going to be ready in God’s time.

Beyond Death

Interesting that I’ve never been afraid of death. The fact that I want to live a long life is not because I’m afraid of the end. I’m curious to make the crossing. In the meantime, I want to fill up my suitcase. I want to live a long life and make the most of my time on Earth to acquire my baggage. It takes time to learn the most important of virtues – to love all beings unconditionally. I believe that with a heart full of virtues, my afterlife will be even more special.

Take Care of Yourself

What, then, is the importance of taking care of the body, since virtues are the most important thing? An intriguing question. The understanding of the body as the instrument of the spirit is part of our preparation. The body is the vehicle through which we experience the feelings and sensations that will generate learning and virtues. Just as we can see more clearly through a clean glass, when the body is clean our connection to the divine is stronger. When we take good care of this valuable gift, we have an upper level of energy to do great things.

Gratitude

I am thankful for the blessing of having my grandma for all those years. My heart overflows with gratitude for all the love I received from her – every cheese bread, every sweet, every prayer she said for me, my children, and my husband. She always made sure to please him despite thinking he was out of my league. My nana taught me the expression of love beyond physical touch—the love that welcomes, cares, and accepts. Grandma Filhinha welcomed siblings, sick relatives, nieces and nephews, sons, daughters-in-law, and grandchildren. And she especially welcomed me and my sisters in a moment of abandonment.

Thank You

I appreciate you, Grandma! For teaching me how to cook, how to garden, and for making my prom dresses. No words can describe how grateful I am for all the precious moments and all the hugs. I don’t want to say I’m ready for you to leave us, but I think you might be. You lived a long life, raised a beautiful family, and helped a lot of people. Your family is far from perfect, and you were never perfect, but you loved and taught a lot and I’m sure you learned. I think your suitcase is packed.

Arrival

I hope your loved ones who have already left will be waiting for you upon your arrival – Grandpa, Uncle Rui, Uncle Resende, Aline, your parents, your brothers, and sisters. May it be a joy-filled welcome. The memories of our wonderful Sundays together will be forever cherished. You can go unconcerned, Grandma, we’ll cry, but we are going to be just fine.

Death is not the opposite of life, but part of it. May we all be prepared and at peace to say our goodbyes.

Remember: Good is what makes you feel well!

Anna.

Read more about my grandma’s life on Blue Dot Grandma.

Anna Resende

Anna Resende

Integrative Nutrition Health Coach
Certified by IIN - Institute for Integrative Nutrition

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4 Responses

  1. Anna que texto maravilhoso. Ontem estava bem triste pois minha mãe que está no hospital não melhorava. Chorei bastante pois ela é a minha fortaleza. Uma pessoa que me viu chorando chegou perto de mim e me disse Deus sempre quer o seu bem. Fiquei mais calma. Hoje já estou bem melhor e a minha mãe já está bem melhor também. A morte faz parte da vida. Ano passado perdi meu irmão mais novo e foi um momento de muita dor. Ainda estou me recuperando. É muito importante ressignificar a morte. Como você falou morte não é o oposto da vida mas uma continuação dela. Muito obrigada por escrever um texto tão profundo e bonito.

  2. Lindo texto, foi reconfortante ler, seu texto. Meus pais já faleceram há quase 15 anos e serviu pra mim como se tivesse sido ontem.

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