Untangled: You don’t just die once

by Maram Behairy

Death seems so scary. It’s the end. A life ready to be judged. It’s a disconnection from the people we love. It feels like loneliness and distance.

I was hiking in the woods in Asheville, NC once and I saw something that changed my entire understanding of death. I saw the dead vines intertwined with the living. So simple.

It taught me that there is no growth, no life, if there isn’t an equal and accompanying death.

On a basic biology level, the dead animals and plants fertilize the earth for future growth.

Winter and Spring, night and day—beautiful displays of death seamlessly merging with life, in an elegant dance.

Within our own bodies, skin cells are constantly dying and being replenished. Our hair falls and new hairs grow back. Our body, just like the earth is in a constant death and life cycle.

We don’t just die once. Pieces of us are constantly dying.

This happens beyond the physical realm as well. As we grow and learn, a part of our previously held understanding and behavior dies. A crawling baby learning to walk or a nursing baby learning to eat—is this not a death of the old and birth of the new? With each change, the old way of thinking and doing must die.

Even with time, every moment that passes is a death.

And while this may trigger grief, I am starting to feel differently about death. I am starting to see death as the fertilizing of future growth.

For the most part, this happens all around us and within us without our awareness.

We even innately create meaning out of the death of loved ones. We want to create legacies for people we held dear. “So their life and death is not in vain.” We honor our dead by spreading life in the world.

Within our own inner world, allowing the death of old beliefs is painful. We hold on to the way we see things with a death grip, not accepting new perceptions easily. Think about a time someone hurt you so badly. It was a death of trust, and now forgiveness is a death of something else I guess—maybe a death of expectations. The only way to grow, however, is to let go of the old.

It makes me think of every message Allah sent to humanity. People were so scared to leave the way of their forefathers. Islam, as did all previous messages from Allah, shook the status quo. It asked people to realign with their fitrah and Allah, which required turning their back on their culture and family. Every Deen Allah sent us was an exercise for humanity on allowing the old, messed up structures to die while embracing progress and life.

Rather than resist it and fear it, I am on a journey to embrace death within myself—my beliefs, my body—and within the world around me.

Death is the gateway to life.

About the Author:

Maram Behairy is a PhD in Curriculum and Instruction and heads the writers’ group of South Florida Muslim Federation

‘I like to understand the bigger picture, deeper reasons, and nuanced connections. I have always been more interested in the roots under the ground than the fruit above. I complicate and explore in order to find the simple, deep truths. I live those with conviction. My dream is to use my gift for words to inspire and guide others to live with purpose and greater ease. So as I experiment on myself, I will share what I learn along the way. My roles in life (by default my areas of exploration) include being a Muslim, woman, wife, mother, writer, and youth mentor.’  

Have a question for the author or want to reach her? Email her at maram@soflomuslims.com.

Maram Behairy
Author: Maram Behairy