Death, like a butterfly, comes on wings of beauty. It is a ray of light that carries you to glory. But dying…dying is a vulture that devours the body. It swoops in like a raptor, ripping you from your life. — Tricia A. Sullivan
That’s a poetic way of saying that death is not ugly or harsh. Death is quiet and full of beauty. It is the dying that can be harsh.
Dying is different than death. Dying is the affliction that causes the physical body to shut down and die. Death is the transitioning of the soul from physical life to afterlife.
You might be dying of cancer, which is painful; yet, your death, when it occurs, can be filled with joy or loneliness—whichever you choose. You can die from any number of afflictions—illness, trauma, poison, murder, accident, old age, or even nature’s tantrums. But your death can be calm, tumultuous, lonely, joyous, frightening, sad, filled with regret or hope, or any way you choose. Both death and dying are chosen by you (at least, most of the time). There are some exceptions, and an imbalance of energies (aka, karma) is usually involved; but, overall, we each choose the manner in which we die and the way in which we experience death.
It seems like such a fine distinction—between dying and death—but it is a distinction that can affect the entire experience. For instance, perhaps you wanted to experience being murdered (yeah, I know, who would choose that? Believe it or not, most of us do choose it in at least one life). So, the cause of death (the dying) is supposed to be a quick gunshot to the head; while, the death itself (the transition from life to afterlife) is supposed to be filled with joy for having taken the bullet to save someone else. However, the person who agrees to be your murderer makes the killing more painful than it needs to be; perhaps, wounding you several times before killing you. So, now your death also has fear, pain, and maybe even regret for having acted bravely instead of the joy you originally planned.
The way you die can color the whole death experience, changing it, twisting it, or (sometimes) making it even better than you planned. For instance, you may have opted to take an overdose of pills because you believed that no one cared about you. Therefore, you planned on a death filled with the same type of loneliness and depression that you had faced in life. However, the person who finds you, holds you and cries for you as you’re dying, and you realize that someone cared. This may make your death (your transition to the afterlife) more joyful and less traumatic because now you know that someone really cared about you.
Dying and death are usually planned as a unit, which enables each person to create a full experience for themself. However, plans can change, needs can vary, and other people’s choices can interfere. That means you may need to re-evaluate your original plan and try something else. And, while death escorts can step in and help, most souls prefer to just accept the experience as is (changes and all). After all, that’s what life (which includes dying and death) is all about…experiences, with all the unpredictability and fickleness that goes with them.
So, the next time you speak of dying and death, remember that they are two distinct steps in the overall experience we call life.