I have always been scared of death. Like, always.
When I was a child, I would think about the different ways I could die. Please, do not misunderstand me, I never thought in any way to commit suicide, I just thought about the things that could happen to me or the disease I could get that would end up with my life. Now, as an adult, I think about it less because I do not want to be so pessimistic but also cause I’m still scared of the idea of dying. It is not exactly what happens after death that scares me, but the how I will die and if I will suffer during the process.
When I was a child, I would tell my mom about being frightened of death. She always replied to me by saying that death is a natural state that we will have to confront sooner or later. She also told me that death comes when it has to come, not before, not after. She would end by saying that if one is a good person in life there shall be no worries about death. In other words, she was telling me that karma is a bitch, so just be a good person while alive, instead of worrying about death.
The truth is that during my 27 years of existence, I have been lucky enough to not experience many deaths around me. But recently, I experimented my grandma’s death and two weeks later I found out that a dear friend had passed away. He was one of the owner’s of a special place I frequent in Paris, so I was used to see him on a weekly basis and for special occasions, like birthdays.
Anyhow, I found out he passed away via a text message from another friend in common. It took me by surprise. It actually hit me hard, it was unnatural, I could not understand how because I just had seen him a week before… So after many years of ignoring death, I had to face it because it was finally touching my loved ones.
What is my outcome, you may wonder?
Well, as cliché as it may sound, I think we are so f***ing lucky to be alive. Some of us may be healthier, some succeeding or trying (I wanted to avoid the word failing), some with big traumas or small first world problems… The thing is that we have to be grateful for that. We have to be strong because that’s life, pinpoint our problems and create a roadmap to solve them. We have to be faithful with ourselves, thinking who we really are and what we really want. Most importantly, one must have a moment with oneself and see what is it that fulfills us and makes us smile in this journey called life. I am talking about real joy, not the short term excitement, that makes you proud of yourself. But real joy and love that moves you everyday and fulfills your gut.
Speaking about life, yesterday I went to Shakespeare and Co. (my favorite spot in Paris ) for an event with the amazing writer Elif Shafak who was presenting her book 10 minutes 38 seconds. During the event, death and life was a topic that was mentioned many times. Elif – as I will allow myself to call her – started by explaining that it has been scientifically approved that once we die (no pulse, no heartbeat) our brains still fonction for 10 minutes and 38 seconds in which mainly memories from the past come back to our minds. Is this a way of life to make us learn one last time by recapping our lives one last time? I hope so…
Elif also highlighted the paradox on how we live “forward” but we learn “backwards” as we learn from our experiences. She also shared an experience of hers. It was 1999 she was living in this neighborhood that used to be a Jewish and Catholic quartier and that later became an area of living for LGBTQI people. One night, at 3am in the morning Istanbul was hit by a powerful earthquake that killed about 1 000 people and injured 10 000 more. As she was outside her building in the street, she saw how the conservative butcher – who had never accepted or spoken to LGBTQ+ people) was handing over a cigarette to a trans women, they were both as scared but at the same time equality was there, in front of death. The next day, the man was back to his old self and not talking to anyone out his standards anymore.
During this talk I couldn’t help but wonder, how can we create impact on closed minded people without having to face death? How can we change people like the butcher to have more empathy towards minorities?
So I asked the question to Elif, to which she responded by saying that if we want other people to listen we must first remind ourselves that they are people (even though they don’t think like us). It is up to us to arrive opened and be empathetic in order to have a common point with the person. If we create this bridge people will be more receptive to listen and have a real exchange of ideas.
Yet, it is important to use the present moment as a gift of time to stand for equality and minorities. Because we shall not be confronted to help each other because just because death comes in front of our eyes. Equality must be present in our daily actions. Empathy shall be our main tool. We shall learn everyday while alive and we should laugh the most that we can because that makes things fun and better. At the end of the day, life is love and when death comes it us all about how much we lived and loved.
LIVE – LOVE – LEARN – LAUGH or as Lenny Kravitz would say: “Let Love Rule“
This article is for all those women, whom have had to face death in one way or another. This article is also for all those women fighting for equality. This article is also for all those women that are discriminated for being women, trans, lesbians, black, indigenous and more. Remember that you are more than a body, you are a soul first. Remember also that there are people fighting for your rights in many ways. You are not alone, I am with you. <3