Death & Life: A True and Personal Story
by Debbie Pask
I thought long and hard about sharing this personal story, so get ready for a curvy ride ahead. The story starts with me being on a wild boat ride on Sydney harbour whilst my Dad is dying in the hospital taking his last few breaths.
For many of you who know me, I have spent years doing spiritual development and inner work. One of the main hurdles in my life (aside from a major corporate work burnout) is the relationship I have/had to my father. My Mum and Dad split up when I was around 17 with pretty hectic circumstances. Needless to say there were major family rifts, Dad’s girlfriend pouring acid on our family car and some nasty events that went down. At that stage I was quite a fiery and independent person and Dad and I pretty much clashed to the point of no return. I felt this man had treated my Mum very poorly and was not a nice character overall. We had a falling out then at 18 years old which lasted until his recent death, on Sept 29th 2014 (James’ birthday, unfortunately; what’s the likelihood of that!).
The day before, September 28th, was my nephew's birthday and a few of our male family members had been given a present of a jet boat ride on Sydney Harbour. These are the type of rides where you get drenched and thrown into a 360 degree spin on the harbour. For some reason, although I was not booked to go on that crazy ride, I felt I would wind up on that boat ride that day. I did and I was not dressed for it either! Just before the boat started to take off, my family received a call from the hospital my Dad was in (he had been ill I was told and going downhill) to say he had just hours left to live. My brother-in-law jumped off the boat and asked me to take his place with the kids on board whilst he and my Sister rushed to the hospital. Of course, I had not had contact with my father for years so was not across his full medical condition.
I did not realise he was so close to death.
So I suited up for the boat ride and jumped in with the boys on Sydney harbour. As the boat started to pick up speed and then perform the series of tricks and drenching 360-degree spins, I felt my world slow down and become very still and very calm. Here I was out in the sunshine celebrating life with my nephews and husband, on the water and surrounded by excitement. Yet – somewhere in the world my father was taking his last breaths and slowly losing his physical vessel. I thought about the 17 years I had known him and those memories felt far away. I thought about how there is so much death and rebirth around the world. Devastation and celebration. I thought about how people can drift apart and fall out with one another. Thought how for such a long time, I have not had the comfort or support of a father figure. How sad it was to have such a dividing gap between parent and child. And I felt calm, clear and peaceful.
Because I had spent years doing work on this relationship debacle. I have communicated in spirit with my father, understood my lessons and gifts from the experience and let go of the need to foster anger or hate or disappointment. I had meditated on it. Burned letters of pain. Looked for the gifts that shaped who I was and celebrated that. I had done so much inner work that there was nothing left to say or express anymore. Even if I had wanted to say something more, I could easily talk to his Spirit after death. After all, everything is energy. In my & James’ experience, physical death here is nowhere near the end of the story. We have seen our own evidence of the soul’s journey into the new life and new energy. I am personally convinced about life after death so not really that frightened of the ‘other side’, although I am certainly not ready to go yet!
All of this inner work and integration of the shadow aspect of our relationship had been resolved from my end. And all of the events that occurred in relation to my father had been let go. This is not the same as condoning bad behaviour either. In my mind, he did behave very badly. But it was not about me and I certainly didn’t know what karma he had to play out so who was I to hold grudges?
I had decided that my father was not necessarily the kind of person I wanted to be friendly with. He had some personality traits that were undesirable in my mind and he certainly treated my mother badly and still did up til the end of his life. I did not feel he stepped up and took accountability for his actions or his role as a father. He certainly didn’t give me a good starting impression of the divine masculine energy. But he was young, only 25 or so when he had me (and I was the 3rd child). He was around 43 or so when he split with my mother, so I guess that age can be tricky as marriage breakdowns are emotionally wild after 20 years together. The emotional angst can get in the way of treating people properly and he obviously had the karma to unfold around family stuff.
But holding compassion for someone is very different from spending time with them. You can love and care for someone but decide not to take on their crap. Not to enter into the firing line with them physically. Not to be a friend or connection. You can choose to express what you need to say to someone in a non-physical way to get it off your chest. Life is energy - so that balance can be created in so many ways; it’s not the confrontational forced way we might think it is. Nobody really needs to hear your pain – you just need to let it out in a way that feels good and real to you. Expressing yourself does not need to be heard by the person you feel angry toward. Expression is about YOU getting the therapy you need. You cannot change how someone feels or thinks, you can only do the work needed for yourself. It’s none of your business what anyone else thinks about you. I love that quote!
So my father didn’t die that day, he passed the next day on my husband James’ birthday. So James and I had a glass of wine together in celebration of James’ solar return and my father’s death. Two very different men. Thanks to James I got a great experience of what the divine masculine is. And thanks to my mother I got a fantastic experience of how one parent can be so amazing and no nurturing that you can almost forego the other.
So in my mind, there are few rules:
If you have outstanding angst with someone, clean it up. Do your inner work and let it go. Accept that these negative experiences shape you and help you evolve. Try and figure out your lessons and be grateful. You don’t need, nor are you responsible for the other person’s issues. The choice of whether to still connect physically with that person depends on your values. In my case, my Father’s values were too far from mine that it was not authentic for me to pretend to have a relationship.
Expressing your feelings can be done privately or publicly. If you can’t get an audience with your offender or you don’t want one, you can just as effectively release the pain by doing your own ceremony and ritual. Scream therapy, burning letters of emotional angst, talking out loud to their Spirit, punching pillows, humming, singing, or dancing it out. That’s what indigenous tribes do.
When there is a death of someone or something, it is ok to mourn that but look for the life and celebration all around you. It is everywhere. From a new flower in spring, a puppy dog, a new baby or a milestone in life you just passed. Maybe even a revival of new health.
The Spirit world does exist. Our physical bodies are just a space suit that is temporary. Your Spirit exists eternally and you transform to the next place upon death. It’s scary in some ways but not in other ways.
Always find a way to have love and compassion for those people that have wronged you. This does not mean you need to have a friendship with them or be best buddies! In fact, most times this would be an abusive thing to do. People can be catalysts for change in our life but staying in a relationship with someone who messes you up is not useful. Make peace with Spirit but choose honouring and sensible decisions around the physical.
Think about the people you do love in your life and hold them close, for they are the ones that will celebrate with you when you have something good happen. And they will also celebrate with you when something sad happens because they know that you are getting a good chance to make some evolutionary leaps and growth. Everything happens for a reason, understanding that and having support from soul friends does take the sting out of the crap times.
Farewell Dad. May your Spirit rest in peace.
Death is a BIG event. Whether you love the person passed or have some outstanding karma with that soul, physical death is confronting and healing at the same time. How do we really grieve and celebrate a life that has passed, in private that is deeply nourishing to our Spirit? [Read here]
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