Death. Richard Rohr states it baldly: We are all going to die. Today in 1926 Elizabeth Kübler-Ross was born in Switzerland. A medical doctor and psychiatrist, she specialized in death and dying. Over the years, Kübler-Ross developed what has become recognized as the 5 stages of grieving and dying: Denial –Anger –Bargaining –Depression –Acceptance or DABDA.
These stages of grieving also show us that dying and death can and should be a growth experience for us and it can be done with dignity. So much of our dying these days is undignified and does not attend to this 5 stage process. So much of our grief is stuck at one or other stage in this natural process.
Take Ozymandias for instance. Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote a poem in 1818 about an imagined Egyptian potentate who clearly was in Denial:
I met a traveller from an antique land Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand, Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown, And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command, Tell that its sculptor well those passions read Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things, The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed: And on the pedestal these words appear: “My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!” Nothing beside remains. Round the decay Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare The lone and level sands stretch far away.
Shelly drowned at sea today in 1822 and I wonder if he managed to do the DABDA before he shuffled off his mortal coil. I wonder will you?
I leave you today with a poem that wrote:
I used to walk upon my dead as a carpet Woven from the lives of my forebears I thought of them as living in my shadow As I crawled then strode into my life I wear my dead about me as a cloak A marshal cloak mustered against the great out there In battle I wrap them around my Spirit and can face the enemy with a still heart I will wear my dead about me as a shroud When all the dust and blood of this life Has moved into the collective knowing of Death, our gentle friend