Birth & Death (cross posted) - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 10 Old 10-15-2010, 10:32 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I don't want to get morbid here. But a friend and I were talking about the link between birth and death, and I related an incident where, on the birth of my son, I was in a very trancey mood during labor with him. Apparently even when he was born, one of the first things I said was "I feel death, death is here." Now, I didn't think I was dying, I didn't think the baby was dying, no one was actually in danger of death. There was no panic in the statement either. But I just felt... I don't know, it sounds so silly, but I felt death was all around us. My friend was really surprised and said she felt a similar thing as well, but hadn't thought to mention it to anyone. But it got me thinking.

Right now I'm actually in the middle of writing a paper on various goddesses who are linked to both birth and death, and how cultures often lumped the two together. And that got me thinking even more.

Is there anyone here who has... I don't know. Felt something similar at their births? I'm not talking of an "omg we're gonna die, something is wrong" feeling - or god forbid, if a baby actually did die, I imagine that would bring around its own feelings. But I'm talking in a birth that resulted in a healthy mom and baby - did anyone else have a similar feeling? Or are my friend and I just crazies? (That's possible!! )

I'm going to cross post in Birth & Beyond if the mods don't mind.
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#2 of 10 Old 10-16-2010, 12:16 AM
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OK, I'll bite, but I'm not sure if my answer has the angle you're looking for. At the moment my younger son was born and I saw him for the first time, I immediately thought of my brother who had died more than 20 years earlier. We gave our baby part of my brother's name. At the moment of birth and in the minutes following the birth, I felt a strong connection to family members who had died...a source of great joy to me in those moments. It was my first & only experience with natural childbirth. I found that my animal instincts were super strong, and I felt I was using a part of my brain that I'd never used before...I wasn't able to use language, and everyone around me thought that I was exhausted on the verge of collapse, but in truth I was hyper-aware of my environment and wide awake and full of energy. I think it's natural for deep spiritual questions to rise to the surface in this state of mind.

"Isn't life a series of images that change as they repeat themselves?" - Andy Warhol
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#3 of 10 Old 10-16-2010, 12:54 AM - Thread Starter
 
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No, that's exactly what I was looking for! I PM-d you too.
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#4 of 10 Old 10-18-2010, 01:29 PM
 
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I actually made a comment to dh that after having experienced the passion of giving birth, I feel like I know what the passion of death feels like. Also, the experience left me with no fear for death... seems like the most natural thing. I am not surprised to hear that others seem to know what I mean.

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#5 of 10 Old 10-18-2010, 01:36 PM
 
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Originally Posted by candycat View Post
But I just felt... I don't know, it sounds so silly, but I felt death was all around us.
I've felt that too with my births, especially my last 3. I don't even know how to put the feelings into words, though I've tried before. Something to do with being in such a primal state of mind, and an almost hyper-awareness of the thin line between birth and death, and the presence of death. I don't know how to coherently put that feeling into words.

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#6 of 10 Old 10-18-2010, 03:22 PM
 
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This is very interesting because traditionally it was said that a laboring woman was "a hair's breadth from death." I always thought it had to do with higher maternal mortality rates but reading this now I bet it also had something to do with the primal processes of life/death being interrelated/similar.

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#7 of 10 Old 11-10-2010, 01:07 PM
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Yes, I know what you mean.  It's not so much death as in the end of life, but death as in the state when a person isn't alive.  At least in my experience.  It's an awareness of things that are beyond life.  I think that labor alters our state of consciousness and makes us more able to sense stuff like that. 

 

I was present the day my FIL died and it was really strange how much the feelings surrounding it were similar to those surrounding birth.  Obviously everyone was grieving rather than happy, but there was a level of feelings that were like birth.  That really surprised me.  But it makes sense.  Those are both transitions that have to do with one's body and spirit.  

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#8 of 10 Old 11-10-2010, 07:01 PM
 
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When I was pregnant, I had a very real sense of the connection between birth and death.  The idea of passing from one form of existence into another.  We gave DS his middle name after my grandpa, who passed away a few years earlier.  My grandpa's death is one of the most beautiful things I have ever experienced (I hope that doesn't sound awful).  I have a large family and most of us were there in the room with him as he died.  The moment he died he opened his eyes wide and when he closed them... it's hard to describe, but the space inside his mouth turned to a dull black color.  I could tell the moment that he wasn't in his body any more.  So what does all this have to do with birth?  The thing that I kept thinking when I was preparing to give birth to my son was that I fully believe that grandpa felt safe enough to let go in that moment because all the people who loved him the most were there to support him in that transition.  And I kept thinking how beautiful it would be in a person's life if the people who loved them the most were there to support them in both of those major transitions, birth and death.  Coming into this life surrounded by love and moving onto the next life surrounded by love.

 

Now, in birth, I did not feel a sense of death.  But I was dealing with a long, hard, and emotionally traumatic birth (homebirth transfer to ceserean birth)... so my "spirit" was otherwise occupied.

 

I'm curious to know, when you mentioned that you sensed death just after your son was born, what was the reaction of people with you? 


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#9 of 10 Old 11-16-2010, 06:24 PM
 
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Just something to add that's slightly off where you are at, but closely related: I remember reading that in many cultures, the midwives tended birth and death. I don't know more than that having never researched the topic, but it did stick with me. I also read a midwifery blog post that related the midwife's ancedotal finding that many midwives are often drawn to both birth and death care. IE they switch between working in hospice and midwifery. The two portals of life.

 

I can't say that I've expirenced this personally, but I do understand where someone might. To me, I wouldn't think of it as "death" so much as the spirtual world. Bringing life into this world is essentially tearing a hole in the veil between this world and the next. It is probably the closest we ever come to it aside from our own birth and death.

 

Very interesting post! I hadn't thought of giving birth in this manner before, but I like it!!


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#10 of 10 Old 11-22-2010, 08:03 PM
 
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there is a book written by a quaker woman ( i can't recall her name) but it was published by pendle hill ( a quaker publication/retreat organization) and it is called death: a spiritual birth.  it is fascinating and basically the theme is that death is actually the birth of our spirit into the next world/plane of existence.  have you ever read any accounts of near death experiences or people who died and were brought back?  they all have the same story: that they passed through a tunnel into light, that they saw all of their relatives who had died before them, and that they saw their life almost in a movie reel.  at that point they are brought back. that is as far as they have gone.  but it is really interesting.

 

my brother died in March of this year, and i have had so many dreams with him.  i really believe it is his spirit coming to see me.  two times i got mad at him in the dreams for dying, and the dream would pause like in a movie, and then he would step out of the dream and walk out the door of my room.  he has also come to me times that weren't in my dreams, but were in that time of sleep right before you wake up.  one time it was the night after his death, he came to me and asked me to feed his snake.  the other time he came to me and told me to check my dd's blood levels for celiac to see if it was the cause of her seizures.  he was right that time.  and no one else had picked up on it.  he and i were close, and i was at his birth and was the first one to hold hiim after the midwife caught him, even before my mother. 

all of his friends have had dreams where he said goodbye to them.  his death was a tragedy and no one was able to say goodbye.  his best friend has had so many dreams where they are just hanging out and talking.  my brother had a dream where my brother who passed came to him with one of our old dogs, the one who was closest to my brother who passed.  the dog died about 15 years ago and he was my dead brother's dog.  i know that they are together. 

 

i would look for that book, spiritual birth - it has some really interesting thoughts about the connection between birth, life, death, and after death.

sorry if this is off topic.  i love to talk about this, and most people think it is very morbid.

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