That Sacred In-Between

 I want to consider what it means to experience and cultivate a sense of continued connection with people who have died. With this in mind, I invite us into a place of imagination and wondering. How might we ponder our connections with those who have gone before us — those who have loved us into being?

What is that sacred in-between? That space right before death where powerful things seem to happen?

The truth is, I don’t know.

Is it a new reality coming into being? Is it simply (but still, amazingly!) the human brain giving a euphoric experience at the end of life? Is it a liminality between what has been and what will be? Is it an expansion of time — either in reality, or perhaps, in a beautiful illusion during a near-death state?

I don’t know. All I know is that I find it to be comforting.

I mean this: Sometimes, when people near death, they rally quite unexpectedly and receive a burst of strength that seems unexpected. Some appear to experience joy. Or in a last bit of consciousness in their bodies, some experience the presence of people who have died before them.

Before she died, my grandmother Ruby was unconscious and on a ventilator. After the ventilator was removed, she died pretty quickly. But right at the end, she suddenly opened up her eyes, looked up and smiled, and a couple tears dripped down her cheek.

I don’t know what that is, but I find that to be comforting.

I’ve also known of situations where people have spent whole days moving back and forth between conversation with people who are in the room and the next moment, announcing they could see someone from the earlier part of their life. It seemed that everyone was present at once.

I don’t know what that is, but I find that to be comforting.

In pondering this, I don’t mean to put a silver lining on death. I know these kinds of things can be hard to celebrate when loss is recent and grief is acute. But at the same time, it’s all such a mystery, and perhaps these kinds of moments can give some solace too.

Renee Roederer

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