I have been exploring the idea of Death in my writing. Death as a transformative power, a transition and how after death we must re-create ourselves. When I moved to West Virginia 25 years ago I experienced the death of a relationship and had to recreate myself. I changed a great deal from the person I was before I moved. Now I am changing myself again, transitioning into midlife. Life without young children. I am struggling to redefine myself. I am not longer the “Mom”. Being a Mom is no longer my primary identity. I am now going through a transformation into becoming me as a woman who is no longer the mom. I am having to figure out exactly what it is I want to do with my life. I was Mom for more of my life then I was not, so I am not sure exactly what I am supposed to do now. I am trying to remember who I was before kids and it’s difficult. I know I always wanted to be a writer. I also wanted to be a ballerina, an opera singer, and an artist. Never when I was young did I say I want to be a social worker or a community organizer. Even though I was definitely the little organizer and a natural leader in any group I was part of. Part of my breakdown this year was that I was so burnt out on my work and did not know how to do something else. I was afraid of taking that leap of faith that would result in me no longer running my nonprofit and focusing on defining myself as a writer. It didn’t help that it was all precipitated by the deaths of several important people in my life and the end of a 5-year relationship. So now I am writing and exploring the idea of death as transformation. The transformative power of death and being faced with your own mortality and how this precipitates a midlife crisis. Is it really a crisis or just a period of change? It’s a letting go and a learning to accept the inevitable and defining yourself in a way that you want to be defined as a person not as a parent or a worker but as a person. What are the dreams that were left behind during the time of mothering during that time of sustaining others and sacrificing one’s self? Now is a time to reexamine those dreams and see if they are worth pursuing. What will we leave on the roadside and what will we take on this journey to the end of our lives? What is important, what do we actually want to invest our time into for the next twenty years or more. What is the second half of our life going to be about?
6 thoughts on “Death as Transformation”
I once heard a speech at Toastmasters where the speaker referred to “the next chapter” of life. I liked that better than halves or tenths, and I liked the notion that we write our future as we go. I find it to be a less stressful way of looking forward. Whatever you do, I hope you enjoy it.
The idea of death as transformation came to me while I was watching a documentary on scary movies. They were talking about how a tarot card shown in a particular scene was a death card but did not mean death to that character. Instead, it represented how the person was going to be transformed by the end of the movie. I can’t remember what movie in particular that part of the documentary was talking about, but that concept of transformation really resonated with me. So as my attempt at novel writing for NaNoWriMo again this year, I thought that would make a great concept to explore.
The First Half/Second Half of life concept reminds me of Richard Rohr’s book Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life. We spend a lot of the first half defining ourselves by what we do and the boxes we are placed in by society. If we are fortunate, we get to have a second half where we can become our true selves, without all the boxing in.
The part of my life after parenting and after full-time work has been a transition for sure. I am doing things with my life but still haven’t got where I want to be. I never thought I would be blogging/writing and that has been a good thing. Especially the flash fiction piece. Life doesn’t go along in a perfectly ordered manner, like we may want it to. Right now I think this transition has been one of the most challenging for me. To discover what I want to be doing next.
This is such a rich subject. Dr. Christiane Northrup in her book “The Wisdom of Menopause” said that after menopause, after all the chemical changes have settled down and you’re no longer in baby-having/rearing mode, you are more like who you were at eleven. Before all the heady, scary, powerful stuff started happening. It amazes me that in our 50s, we may have as many good years left as it took to raise our children! So don’t rush, Evelyn. Let things play out. Some say the question “what makes you happy? What are you passionate about?” is wrong, and instead ask what interests you, what are you curious about? What would you investigate just because? Then go do that thing, not with purpose, but for pleasure. It may open your eyes or not, but you’ll be living your life with enjoyment. Best wishes.
I always wrote stories even as a young girl, but once I grew up, had children, etc. I set that aside. I dabbled a little with my journaling but nothing really serious. I am now rediscovering my love of writing and it is helping me rediscover my life as me, not mom, daughter, wife, etc but me.