“It’s the circle of life
And it moves us all
Through despair and hope
Through faith and love” – “The Circle of Life” by Elton John
We all know the song from the “Lion King” that Elton John made famous. But it does make me wonder, if life is a circle then why is it that so many people see it as a line?
I believe the answer is simple and lies within a recent experience I had with an individual who died at home. Upon my arrival, everyone present retired to an adjacent room. Evidently, my appearance meant that the deceased was about to be moved, and that was something those present were choosing to distance themselves from. Sometimes it is for a “prayer” or sometimes because you “don’t want to see this”, but inevitably it happens regardless of the reason. The loved one, a focus of so much attention and love for days, weeks and even months, is now left solely to my care. And thus has ended the ritual of caring for and being in the presence of the dead.
By ending our caring of and being in the presence of our dead, we are no longer intimate with death. We shuffle off and leave the care of the dead to the funeral director, and more importantly, are opting for services where the dead are no longer present or the focus. What is now becoming apparent is that by distancing and isolating ourselves from death; by not allowing our children, who hold the promise of tomorrow, to acknowledge death and the significance of the past, we have broken the circle.
One of the elements of my profession that brings me joy is to help people reconnect that circle. It does not mean that everyone must be embalmed and have a public viewing. What it does mean is that to each life, significance must be established, death acknowledged and all see that death is a part of this life.
Life is a circle, not a line. Reconnect the loose ends and see how much easier it becomes to live, laugh and love.