Let's talk about... death

In loving memory of Thijs.

It is an old belief
that far away from sorrow and grief,
on a far and distant shore,
we shall meet once more.

Author unknown

Introduction: why this subject?

Eros and Thanatos, love and death are the two big themes, in life, in literature, art,...
In the past sex was taboo, death not. Now, we can speak freely about sex, but death has become a subject we'd rather not talk about. Fortunately this is changing.

Human beings are afraid of death. It is related to the fear of the unknown. Thé question is: Is there life after death?
One thing is certain: there will be a time when we have to leave our physical body behind.

I used to be firmly convinced that there is nothing after death. This made me very afraid and desperate. I remember that as a child sometimes, while lying in my bed, I suddenly realised there would come a day that I wouldn't exist anymore. It was such a big and horrible thing to think about. I called my mother for comfort, but what else could she do than say that I was still young and it was not yet my time to go. I pushed my fear away, but it could pop up any time.

Around December 1999 my fear came back in huge proportions. I know that you mustn't ignore your fears, but face them. I had a very hard time for about half a year. I was desperate. I thought that I would never enjoy life again. Death was always on my mind. The thoughts kept turning in my head. I saw no salvation, 'cause the only thing that would save me is to know that I didn't have to die. Eventually, after a hard struggle, I found something that brought me some peace of mind: spirituality. I read about near-death experiences, contact with deceased people,... There are amazing examples which can't be explained rationally, for example friends who promised each other that they would give a certain sign after their death and the one of the two who died first did give that sign.
I'm not yet entirely at ease. Death still makes me afraid. I haven't got any spiritual experiences which can comfort me, but I want to share with you information I collected through my search for the meaning of life and death.

I haven't talked much about death with my surroundings, although I sometimes have felt the need to. I just keep my mouth, because I think that people don't want to hear about that unpleasant subject. People don't want to be reminded of their finiteness. It makes you feel small and your acts seem pointless. But why not talk about it? It is something which we will all be going through. Everyone of us has lost friends and family and there are many more to come. And one day it will be our turn.
I hesitated whether I should write about this topic. But I just feel I have to express myself. And maybe I can help other people by doing so. I don't know if there are a lot of people out there who think about death a lot and what it means. How do you cope with the idea of your personal death? There are so many questions, but where are the answers? I would be very grateful if people want to share their ideas and experiences with me about death ánd life. There's an e-mail button at the bottom of the page if you would like to contact me.

Positive contact with the deceased

On October 11 2001, I went to a lecture about positive contact with the deceased. I learned a lot that evening and it seemed to me worth the while to share some of the things said.
The lecturer was Philippe Vandevorst. He used to be an economy teacher until 15 years ago. A radical experience has changed his life completely. He has been helping dying people, their surroundings and all who are interested in this subject ever since. The event I'm referring to, was the death of a very good, female friend. She died from stomach cancer. After her death he strangely enough felt incredibly happy - a feeling he had never experienced before. People reproached him for not crying at her funeral.

I will now summarize some points which struck me at the lecture, most of which were new to me and which are very valuable and comforting.

*When you are confronted with death, you are going to live much intenser.

*It is very important to be there for people who have just lost somebody. Words are less important. Your presence, here and now, is of the greatest value.

*People who are going to die, have a widened conscience. They are very sensitive. They know how you feel, even before you have entered the room. Mind that it may be painful for them when you talk about the heritage with others. Even when you are not in the same room as the dying person, they can still perceive what is going on.

*Touching the body of the deceased, for example when washing it, can help you with the mourning process.

*Keeping watch over a corpse is a gift! You receive a lot from the deceased person. But you also can give support to that person.
The chances are 9 out of 10 that the soul of that person is still in the neighbourhood during the first hours after death.

*Someone who has died, is very sensitive for your feelings, much more than for your thoughts. Deceased friends or relatives care about you and find it terrible when they see you sad. The greatest wish they have, is to let you know that they still live. But often times they can't, because they are no experts in the new world.

*Dying people sleep a lot, just as babies do.

*A big ideal in our society is independence. Dying teaches us to give ourselves up to others. We learn to honor the child within ourselves again. It is the road of vulnerability.

*It is important to be close to your own body and emotions, to get to know them. It stimulates the unity between body and soul and it will help you dying. It makes the transition more easy. It contributes to a natural death.

*A dying person often needs the consent of his surroundings to die. When the loved ones cling thight to the dying person, it is more difficult for that person to leave this world. That's why people often die exactly that moment when you are not there. So don't feel guilty when you were not there when your loved one died. In your absence he or she had the chance to leave.
Also solve quarrels and forgive before people die.

A movie which Philippe Vandevorst warmly recommended, is Shadowlands.

*There are three kinds of connection with the deceased:
-from heart to heart
-telepathic contact (through dreams, ideas, intense thinking about a deceased person,...)
-guides (by the way: most guides come from your previous lifes)

*You can learn to build up a new relationship with the deceased through contact of the soul. This can be obtained through meditation. It helps in the mourning process. But pay attention! The first months after someone has died, you should try to let them go and don't search contact with them, so that their journey to the other world isn't disturbed.

*90% of the deceased choose to be present at their funeral.

*In our sleep we keep contact with the others.

*In the period November-March it is easier to die or to have contact with the deceased, because in this period the two dimensions lie closer to each other. So seasons play a part.

*When you are dead, you are free to choose your appearance. People often choose the one they had in the period of their lives when they were most happy.
For example, Philippe Vandevorst had contact with his grandfather who had the appearance of a young man. Still, Philippe recognised him to be his grandfather. Later on, he happened to be leafing through a photoalbum of the family and saw a picture of his grandfather as a young man with the same appearance as when he had made contact with his deceased grandfather.

*Don't force contact with the deceased. It won't work. Just let go and be open.
When you are experiencing a hard time, your guides are very concerned about you. Open yourself and you will receive comfort.

*The first six weeks after someone died, you should send him/her lots of light and love. Burn candles, go to church, to his/her tomb,...

*The deceased can't change us, it is up to us.

*The sensitivity to experience the spiritual world is not a talent or gift. Anyone can learn it.

*On an astral level you can communicate with everyone. So language is no obstacle anymore.

Sayings & quotations concerning life and death

Remember, friends, as you pass by,
as you are now, so once was I.
As I am now, so you must be.
Prepare yourself to follow me.

epitaph from a headstone in Ashby, Massachusetts

Death is not the opposite of life.

Death is the opposite of birth.

Life has no opposite.

Life is eternal.

Life is consciousness itself.

So, it’s not life and death.

It’s Birth and Death.

Eckhart Tolle

There’s no cure for birth and death save to enjoy the interval.

George Santayana

Your attitude towards death determines how you look at life.

Origin unknown

When you were born, you were crying and everyone around you was smiling.
Live your life so that when you die, you're the one who is smiling and everyone around you is crying.

(author unknown)

Once you accept your own death,
all of a sudden you're free to live.

Saul Alinsky

And death shall have no dominion.

Dylan Thomas

Je kiest niet hoe je gaat sterven. Of wanneer.
Je kunt alleen beslissen over hoe je leeft. Nu.

Joan Baez

De test voor moed is vaak niet het sterven, maar het leven.

Vittorio Alfieri

Doe geen dingen om niet te sterven -
doe dingen om van het leven te genieten.
De bijwerking is misschien een langer leven.

Bernie S. Siegel

Het leven is de jeugd van onze onsterfelijkheid.


De dood betekent dat alles van je wordt afgenomen
wat je niet bent.
Het geheim van het leven is 'te sterven voor je dood'
en dan tot de ontdekking te komen dat de dood niet bestaat.

Eckhart Tolle

Mijn moeder zei altijd dat er geen pijn of verdriet zo groot is, of het gaat voorbij. Op aarde is niets grenzeloos of eindeloos. Geen enkele misère, geen enkele nachtmerrie.

Isabel Hoving. De gevleugelde kat (462)

'Ik heb een keer een lesje gekocht,' zei Jasje peinzend, 'en dat was: zie onder ogen waar je bang voor bent. Dat zei hij. "Kijk de nachtmerrie recht in de ogen."'
Isabel Hoving. De gevleugelde kat (462-3)

Nu waren alle woorden uitgedoofd. Hij keek recht in het hart van alles. Als hij nu bleef kijken, zou hij alles kunnen zien: hoe de wereld was, wat almacht was, wat het leven beheerste, wat je doodsangst was.
En toen snapte hij het. Jericho had gelijk. Dit was niet grenzeloos. Angst maakte dat je dacht dat het grenzeloos was; onvatbaar verwoestend. Maar het was niet te groot om tegemoet te treden. Als je lang genoeg doorkeek zou je misschien je angst helemaal verliezen, jezelf oprichten, groot worden, en terugkijken.
Isabel Hoving. De gevleugelde kat (464)

Lucide heette hij. Hij is de boodschapper en de wachter. Op de allerbelangrijkste momenten in en om het leven komt hij naar je toe; dan zal hij je hand vasthouden, en hij zal je begeleiden op de wegen waarover geen verhalen bestaan.
Isabel Hoving. De gevleugelde kat (481)

Leef alsof je vandaag kunt sterven,
maar leef ook alsof je nog duizend jaar hebt.

Oorsprong onbekend

Een levensgenieter denkt elke dag aan de dood.

Oorsprong onbekend

Bomen sterven staande.

Oorsprong onbekend

Word wakker, liefst vòòr het tijd wordt om weer te gaan slapen!

Eigentijdse Jeugd

Wie niet oud wil worden, moet jong sterven.


Zevenmaal om de aarde te gaan,
schraal in de kleren, wat zou het mij deren,
kon uit de dood ik die éne doen keren.

Ida Gerhardt

Doodgaan op je zestigste of je tachtigste is moeilijker dan op je tiende of je dertigste.
Gewenning aan het leven, daar zit 'm de kneep.
Want leven is een verslaving. De ergste die er is.
Wat verklaart dat het zoveel moeite kost je ervan los te laten.

E.M. Cioran Gevierendeeld

Het besef van de dood ligt aan de basis van elke grote kunst, van elke filosofie, van elke godsdienst.

De Laender

Als je op je doel gericht blijft,
dan leer je je lessen
en krijg je een rijk en goed leven, inclusief een goede dood.

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

Als de dood er niet was,
zouden we het leven dan wel waarderen?

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

Sterven is niet iets om bang voor te zijn.
Het kan de mooiste ervaring van je leven zijn.
Het hangt er helemaal van af hoe je hebt geleefd.

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

De angst voor de dood
houdt ons van het leven af,
niet van het sterven.

P.C. Roud

Ook al ken ik dat sterven nog niet,
het weet mij al zijn,
lijfde mij in
en is schaduw languit in leven gelegd.

Jotie T' Hooft

Angst voor de dood
is niet bevorderlijk voor de kwaliteit van het leven.

Herman van Veen

Texts & Poems concerning life and death


Aliti, Angelika. De drang naar onsterfelijkheid: Waarom de mens de dood vreest en daarbij vergeet te leven. Baarn: Ambo, (1995).
Oorspronkelijke titel: Die Sucht unsterblich zu sein.

Hennezel, Marie de. De intieme dood: levenslessen van stervenden. Haarlem: Becht, 1996.
Oorspronkelijke titel: Le mort intime.

Kübler-Ross, Elisabeth. De cirkel van het leven.
Autobiografie van de beroemde medicus, psychiater en thanatoloog.

"Tegenslag maakt je alleen maar sterker."

"Doe gewoon wat je hart je ingeeft."

Levine, Stephen. Een jaar leven... alsof het je laatste is. (Utrecht:) Servire, (1997).
Oorspronkelijke titel: A year to live: How to live this year as if it were your last.


Afraid of Dying?
Heather Anne Harder encourages you to talk about death so you can get used to the idea. She also offers some exercises to examine your thoughts, feelings and images about death. She furhter explains you how to get rid of fear and negativity. Finally Heather advises you to eliminate "loose ends" in your life.

Nederlandse Vereniging van Reïncarnatietherapeuten

Stervensbegeleiding, bewust sterven

In Memoriam Page voor Peter Thomassen
Een verzameling van prachtige teksten in verband met leven, dood, afscheid, rouw, verdriet,... voorzien van mooie muziek en achtergronden. Een echte aanrader !


"animated.gif (c) Kitty Roach."
PageWorks Toonland

You are listening to Tears in heaven

~ Latest update: 11 June 2011 ~