Le Passage

Death: a choice for Life

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In May 2016, a book has been published on Books on demand on a subject that remains a taboo: Death? A choice for Life! written by Martine Luce Blot, therapist and health advisor. We propose to discover the main lines of this fascinating book.

The first chapter is an assessment of the evolution of funerary practices throughout time. If they seem to be originally ritualized and collective, from the 12th century, they have become more individual. Detaching progressively from a “confident and spontaneous” resignation, as described by the author, a new will “to be oneself” emerges.

The author explores then the funeral rituals of different civilizations: it is a journey towards Asia, passing through Egypt and the Book of Emerging Forth into the Light – the original title of the Book of the Dead – to come back to Europe and mention the Christian Ars Moriendi. This non exhaustive overview allows an understanding of the diversity of cultural situations.

The French current situation is then presented with the rituals of the official undertakers and main religions or religious currents. It is illustrated by three figures: a vicar, a pastor and an imam. The author makes a visit to traditional people to come back to French everyday life: death in a hospital environment.

Chapter VIII of the book approaches the subject of near death experiences from testimonies and investigations. These diverse visions of the phenomenon of altered states of consciousness reveal other visions of reality. It also presents the philosophy of other esoteric movements, opening a wide field of possibilities in a macrocosmic vision of the human being.

The last chapter takes an interest in the animal world: pet animals whose death cause grief and intense mourning to their masters, and animals killed by millions everyday in slaughterhouses, in society’s indifference and consent.

This lively book causes one to think about how to welcome this ultimate moment of life that is death. It flirts with the idea of a more tenuous unveiling and separation with the afterlife through the experience of “temporary death”. People who have experienced a “temporary death” talk about a border that they haven’t been able to cross. That is what Doctor Jean-Jacques Charbonier explains, a reanimating doctor and writer that has followed reanimation’s progression, through the investigation of people that are further and further into the process of death.

Maybe one day the current point of no-return will evolve according to our reanimation abilities, and it will then be possible to cross this border. Maybe people will say: ‘I have been beyond the border, beyond the light’. That day, maybe we will be able to know more about the possible existence of a life after life.

The book also offers to readers information about a reality lived by our contemporaries today in France. This Information gives access to multiple points of view in various fields around death.

Since the dawn of time, we live, we die, but we don’t get used to death …….Apparently, no-one really can!

(Danielle Sylvestre, « Qui sont les professionnels de la mort ? » in Mourir aujourd’hui, les nouveaux rites funéraires, under the direction of Marie-Frédérique Bacqué, Paris, Odile Jacob, 1997, p. 57)

Getting out of the taboo about death is the intent of this book. In our contemporary reality, each person faces their own death, within a fall-back or even a disappearance of traditional and religious markers. This void often leaves room to fear. Martine Luce Blot helps us understand what is at stake and how we can make death a serene moment of life, without loneliness, because carried and surrounded by the meaning that we give to it. It is the same for the love and caring that we give to the one that is going. Let’s read Death? A choice for Life! Not to die silly!

Death is a recent and incomplete discovery.

(André Malraux, Lazare, 1974).

In each beating of my heart, in each respiration of my breath, life praises the sacred. The dancing of a friend, the flight of a swallow, the laugh of a child, the wrinkles of a mother, the fall in my father’s garden are like the notes of this sacred song. All around, within, above, beneath, everywhere on earth, Life manifests itself into the smallest corners.

I don’t believe a lot of things. In truth, I only believe in one thing. But this certainty has flowed everywhere and soaked everything. Not a thread of existence has remained dried. It comes down to two words: life is sacred

says Christiane Singer. Ancient wisdoms carried this sense of the sacred inside their temples and all events of life were linked to it. Death, this passing from life to another dimension, was no exception.

From my childhood, after three powerful experiences at the same period of time and space, the idea of this passing accompanies me. A near death experience, the death of a young hospitalized girl at my side and the arrival in a family house of pied-noir friends looking for asylum made me tumble into the impermanence of reality. Then, while I was a young nurse, I witnessed the agony and death of patients I was responsible for. And it is with my own inner strengths that I accompanied the dying. Those different experiences have triggered a thirst to understand what Life is, why we are born on earth and why we leave it dying.

Be born to the Earth is dying to Heaven and be born to Heaven is dying to the Earth,

 writes Sylvie Ouellet (Bienvenue sur Terre ! Le Dauphin Blanc, 2008).

Why is death scary? Why has death become the business of the medical corps and of undertakers? Why is death doomed to silence in the face of our isolated individuations? Several authors like Edgar Morin and Norbert Elias agree to say that social taboos are reinforced concerning death. For Philippe Ariès,

fleeing death, such is the attempt of the West

(Essais sur l’histoire de la mort en Occident, Seuil Editions, 1975)

When diseases cannot be defeated, when at the bottom of consciousness death becomes inevitable, when the last physical and psychical defenses are down and the time has come to surrender before releasing a last breath, the human being knows that he has an ultimate meeting with himself. One who looks at the end of his life is not dead yet. He is still walking. And, in the tortuous ways of this announced death, in a movement of austerity and centering on the essential, he meets ageless questions that come from the depths of soul and cannot be easily eluded. “Where am I going?” and “who am I?” are the fundamental questions that, at this stage, can summarize all others.


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