My Journey : Becoming Death Positive

For those of you that have no idea what the phrase “death positive” means, it’s probably not a bad idea to check out an earlier entry of mine titled “What Being Death Positive IS, And What It ISN’T”. Even if you’re slightly sure (but still unsure) about the topic, consider giving that entry a read before you continue here with my babble about my journey of becoming death positive.

I was introduced to the idea of becoming death positive in the early months of 2016. I caught wind that a family living not far down the road from my home had a son that had passed away in his mid thirties. I was (as I’d assume most people would be) bothered by the fact of a person dying that young. Hearing that anyone has passed away is bothersome. I was around the same age as him at the time of his passing, and my lifelong anxieties about death went into overdrive. However, the thing that preoccupied me from my fearful thoughts was when I learned that his family chose to have him buried in their own backyard. Yes, I said backyard.

Now, I’m not going to lie. I initially thought that their choice of burial was a bit weird. I even considered it to be somewhat creepy, at the time. However, I was also quite intrigued. I started to wonder if this was a common thing that some families did that I just wasn’t aware of. Was it legal to do something like that? I mean, it had to be – right? Why would a family do something so “out of the norm”? Was this really as odd as I thought it was? Did they have to get permission to do it? I had a variety of questions weighing on my mind, and I needed to do some digging (seriously, no pun intended) – but I wanted to educate myself on the topic.

After several late nights spent reading articles, books or watching videos on the world wide web, I discovered like minded people that I never considered seeking out. Folks that were willing to share their thoughts, ideas and feelings about the one thing we’re all promised, but typically shy away from facing. Death. Not only do these self-proclaimed death positivists want to strike up conversations about a topic that is highly considered to be taboo, but also educate about alternative death care options – on a mission to remind and enlighten others about the old and new ways we can (legally) care for our deceased. If I was willing to jump on their bandwagon of thoughts and advocacy, I too could call myself a death positive person. Without hesitation, I hopped on board.

As I mentioned in the beginning of this chatter, I’ve had anxiety over the thought of death (and basically anything related to it) for pretty much my entire life. My fear of death has been quite consuming at times. It’s my ultimate phobia – right above birds. (They’re also terrifying to me! However, that’s another topic for another blog.)

With discovering this world of death positivity, I knew I was ready to be personally challenged with this change of mindset. My fear of death had held such a negative grip on my life for so long, and that was mostly due to the fact that I just wanted to avoid the reality of it. It was easy fearing what was not discussed. I lived so long thinking if I didn’t talk about death that it just might not happen. (To my knowledge, that trait hasn’t worked out at all for anyone that has shared the same fear as me once upon a time prior to their demise.) I had been stuck in flight mode just to make myself feel better – until I was faced with the next fear triggering moment. I didn’t want to be that way anymore.

My thoughts and fears surrounding death have very much evolved since being introduced to (and now living with) a death positive mindset. The phobia of death is still quite prominent in my life at times (I’m in no way perfectly “cured”), but my outlook has shifted for the better in a lot of ways. I’ve learned how to handle my moments of fear with a more improved attitude.

It’s kind of crazy (now) to think back to the neighboring situation that led to my death positive discovery. I mean, that family and I were (and still are) complete strangers. They have no clue just how much their decision to lay their son to rest on their property changed my life in so many ways. Their unfortunate loss led me down a complex (but positive) path of personal change that I unknowingly needed. It kind of puts the phrase “one man’s loss is another man’s gain” into a new spotlight for me – as tasteless as that may sound to some. Anytime I share this story with others, I silently send wishes of continued comfort and healing to the family for the loss of their son – and I’m forever grateful to them for inspiring my journey of becoming death positive.

Just a few years ago, I never thought I’d become so comfortable having a chat about death with others. Now, I find myself getting annoying about the topic with anyone that will listen!

If you feel compelled to start a death positive dialogue in the comments section of this post, I’d love to hear what you have to say – while we’re still six feet above the grave!