Carl Jung understood the shadow-side of humanity better than anyone I've ever encountered. He is still considered a foremost authority on understanding our darkness. This is one of my favorite quotes of his about our shadows:
Taking it in its deepest sense, the shadow is the invisible saurian tail that man still drags behind him. Carefully amputated, it becomes the healing serpent of the mysteries. Only monkeys parade with it.
I propose that death itself is the source of our shadow, and the key culprit of any latent fears. We do with death the same thing we do with our darkness - we repress it. Avoid it. Spread glitter on the edges so we can distract ourselves and forget it's even there.
Aptly named, our shadow follows us, regardless of our awareness. Just as death does. It's a mystery that is always there, beckoning us to look deeper. To understand it's gift and message.
Psychologists have taught us that the only way to dismantle our fears is to dive directly to the core of them.
The only way out is through.
Death is exactly the same. But how do we dive deep into death while we are still alive?
It starts with inquiry. It starts with silent time, sitting with yourself and your mortality. Asking yourself what you really think and feel regarding death. Have your experiences served to increase your fears, or have they shown intangible truths about what might be waiting?
Even when we are blessed to be with a loved one in their final days and hours, we hardly ever really look at death. We instead ask them to cling to life. Yet if you're lucky enough to be around someone who has accepted their impending transition, there is an unmistakable lightness. A profoundly deep and honest surrender. Rarely have I ever encountered someone at the end of their journey who is fearful and resistant. Why? Because they dared to look - mainly out of necessity - at who they are beyond their bodies. They had to swaddle up and make friends with the greatest nemesis we perceive - Mr. Grim Reaper himself.
While we are alive, Jung's shadow wisdom can be incapsulated to include an inquiry and examination of death. Perhaps that's our very reason for being here at all; to evolve past the point of attachment (to life) and resistance (to death) so we are able to uncover the truth about who we are.
Our shadow holds the secrets we seek in the light. And death holds the truth about who we are. Within every ending, there is a luscious, thrilling, mysterious, and beautiful beginning.