• Tess Shanahan

What is Death?

Updated: Jul 8

Recently someone very close to me was diagnosed with terminal cancer. It rapidly spread through his body and weakened him a lot faster than we all imagined. Despite being of older age, this beautiful man was extremely fit, alert and healthy – always out on the golf course or pottering around in his picturesque, lushes, vibrantly coloured garden, which overlooked a small tropical forest and then way overheard you could look onto the beautiful ocean of the gold coast. I can only describe this spot as perfection, a place in which whenever I sat there, I found serenity and clarity.

It is in these moments that I find inspiration for blog writing. Today, I write this not sitting in that deck chair overlooking that garden - but reminiscing on that spot that I may never sit in again.

When someone close to you is dying, it leaves your mind open to a lot of unanswered questions. The idea of someone close to you disappearing brings fear, heartache, pain and deep sadness. But what if it didn’t have to? What is death if we remove the fears and negative thoughts linked to it? What if we don’t die?

The first thing I’m looking at is how we perceive death. We learn everything we know from those people around us, the society we live in. This doesn’t necessarily mean that everything we were taught, or everything we think, is correct. I believe that ‘death’ has been misguidedly attached to this negative connotation. When I was reflecting on mortality, and doing some research on how people cope and talk to suffering loved ones, I found a lot of the same old quotes. For example, “Oh, life is not fair…” “Why us” or “Don’t remind them they’re dying, make jokes and make them forget,” and so on. This didn’t resonate with me at all. It just made me more upset.

We never really try to understand ones passing. We go about our lives being scared of this unknown, fearing it for ourselves or for our loved ones. Media surrounds us in tragedies every day, which only deepens these predisposed feelings. Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely many toxic circumstances, killing people faster than the natural process intended. There are definitely horrific acts and deadly diseases that no one deserves to die from. However, the event itself of death and dying - our thoughts of it are skewed.

There are two core things that bring us all together, birth and death. These are the two things we ALL must do and we ALL share. We are all connected in this same way. Birth is such a glorious thing. A little body has been created from the combination of an egg and sperm, whilst a little soul has been brought down from somewhere up above and unknown – both creating this one life. Death on the other hand, is only the reversal of this act. Once your physically body gives in, your soul continues on. The act of your physical organs shutting down completely is what we call death, but we have never considered looking further than that point.

If you disconnect yourself from the event of dying then what are you left with? A situation that this magical thing we call ‘life’ intended us to do. Life and nature continues to amaze me every day. Just think of the depths of this universe and what has been created way beyond our comprehension. There must be a peaceful outcome to our body passing, just by seeing the beauty that natural processes have already shown us.

Let’s look at it another way. Take away the word ‘die’. How about ‘moving’ or ‘transforming’ into the next phase – a phase we don’t even know awaits. As the great teacher, Eckhart Tolle says, “Death is a stripping away of all that is not you. The secret of life is ‘die before you die’ – and find that there is no death.”

The second thing I’m looking at is what might happen after our physical body deceases. This is one way I look at it to try and find some clarity. You don’t have to agree, but it opens the mind to ideas that are rarely explored in society.

There is a center of all life and existence. This is a central life energy that the world operates in and this is where our souls live before and after death. You are not alone when you pass away. You are holding the hands of everyone else who is in the same part of their journey as you, just as with birth. You are not at the end of your journey. You have only completed being in that physical body at that point in time. It’s a celebration of that chapter closing. What happens next? We don’t know. But it’s naïve to fear such a natural process that is intended for all of us to share. I believe, that when your physical body passes on, you will continue to find great beauty and happiness.

So now that this person I deeply love has passed on, I’m going to remember that when someone passes on, they do not disappear. Despite his physical body not being around – his presence and his soul still lives on. Death is a celebration of ones physical life, a chance to smile and appreciate all the magnificent experiences, love and stories that this person brought into so many other lives. Furthermore, I will remember that there is life energy and when I am alone or missing this man, I can call on my intuition and know that he still exists in this energy field.

Everyone’s moment will come, whether it’s sooner or later. If there is one thing you can take from this blog entry it is this; in the end, we all end up in the same place. Together. It’s only a matter of time.

And what is time when you live each moment in the present...

R.I.P. Pa Bob. 18th May 1929 - 1st May, 2015.

Forever love and always. See you soon.


​©2014 by  Tess Shanahan all rights reserved.​  Instagram: @tessshanahan