Allies In Transition

How To Prepare For A Peaceful Death: Allies In Transition
Thoughts From The Field

Allies In Transition
May 2, 2004

About twenty years ago I saw a Japanese produced film titled 'Return to Nara'. I will never forget this film because it had the most explicit examples of life from birth to death. It pictured at one time or another in short scenes all forms of life from invertebrates to mammals. The story takes place in a small village at the foot of a mountain in Nara, Japan. The lives of two families are contrasted from the point of view of the eldest members of the village council, an old woman in Family #1, and an old man in Family #2.

The elder of Family #2 is an angry man, berating his children, and argumentative in the village council. He spends his life taking what he could without either giving much back or preparing for the future. The female elder, on the other hand, began preparing for a replacement of her position on the council early by grooming her family members and allowing the best candidate to step forward.

Tradition among the people of this village is that the eldest son will carry the parent up the mountain at the time appointed, to allow the parent to die on the mountain. Parent from Family #2 has to be chased, caught in a net, like a bug catcher's net, tied in the net and dragged up the mountain, kicking and screaming. In contrast, the elder woman from Family #1 is carried like a child, piggyback on her son's back with her arms around his shoulders. Both parents are placed on the mountain in an area that has multiple skeletons exposed. The film ends with the elder man being buried alive by his son. While the elder woman is seated in a meditative pose, a serene countenance as her son walks back to the village straight and tall, in peace.

What does this story have to do with Allies in Transition, you may wonder? Those who have the most fear about the subject of death and dying may well end up like the elder man of Family #2. When we begin to choose our allies and to learn how they may assist in our ultimate transition of death, we are more able to give up our fear of the subject and allow for the beauty in the processes of life to occur. We are born crying. Like the elder woman, we can prepare for our death and consider it a time for peace. Death will come to all of us; it doesn't matter how much we resist the subject or pretend that it won't happen to us. One never knows the exact time. However, the more prepared an individual becomes for death to occur, the more peace is derived to live life.