5 Near-Death Experience Lessons No One Tells You: #2 & 3

This post is the second part of a series of some lessons surrounding my recent near death experience. If you haven’t read the first lesson, you may want to pause here and read the intro – I’m guessing it will help you set the context for what you are about to read. Here’s the lessons, and few things to remember.

Lesson #1: “I” don’t make sense anymore
Lesson #2: Profanity is no longer profane
Lesson #3: If your mother doesn’t know you have tattoos – she will find out
Lesson #4: “Don’t sweat the small stuff” is no longer true
Lesson #5: Silliness is necessary for life, it is a spiritual practice

These lessons are a little outside the box. These aren’t what you may hear in the “usual conversations” you’re accustomed to when talking about the meatier issues of life, death, the hereafter, oneness and ultimate reality.

A couple warnings/suggestions/codicils:

  • If you are offended by profanity you should probably stop reading now.
  • This is my experience – you may or may not relate. That’s ok, I don’t need you to.
  • If you know anyone who has experienced a NDE, share this with them.
  • If you didn’t smile or chuckle at least once, you may have missed the point or need some internal adjustment.

Lesson #2: Profanity is no longer profane

This is the part where you should stop reading because from here on out, profanity will show up.

[dramatic pause while you go to another page]

Fuck is a perfectly good verb, noun, adjective, and when ‘ing’ is added, a fucking awesome infinitive. And if for some reason you get to the end of this section and still get incensed by these words, take your ego to therapy. Sometimes in life “fuck” is the only word that works.

It is a magical word, and may be one of the most versatile in our language. Just by its sound it can describe pain, pleasure, love, and hate. In language, “fuck” falls into many grammatical categories. It can be used as a verb both transitive and intransitive, active or passive. We can us it as an adverb, noun, interjection (which is most popular) and as a conjunction. Finally, my favorite lately, using it “anatomically,” such as “This fucking asshole hospital was so negligent they nearly killed me! They can pay the fucking bill!”

I bet you had no idea this would be a fucking grammar lesson!

I can’t tell you how surprised ministers and sometimes congregants are to find out I swear. I’ve even been known to say “holy crap” from the pulpit. I’m guessing people think clergy must have a mystical access to the higher realms and therefore we shouldn’t “dirty” ourselves with anything as profane as swearing. Apparently we are supposed to use only the most “clean, fluffy, and spiritual” language. If that’s your belief, it may fucking suck to be you. 🙂 And see lesson #4.

If you’re still not convinced, let me offer you this. The word “profane” means “to desecrate, render unholy, violate.” When you have been deathly ill, and are forced to surrender your ENTIRE life by letting go of the last thing you have any measure of control over – YOUR BREATH – then swearing is anything BUT unholy.

Out of sheer exhaustion I stopped fighting what I never wanted to do, but needed to if I wanted to live. I looked at the heartless, beastly machine made of metal, plastic and tubing as if to say, “You win! Breathe in me you bastard!” And with that, I collapsed into peace, sleep, and somewhere else. The soft underbelly of life had revealed herself as soon as I learned to hold on to nothing, and hold nothing back.

When you can no longer feel the life force of breath moving through you of your own volition, screaming the word “FUCK” consecrates the most holy second you may ever experience – death and life in a single moment.

Lesson #3: If your mother doesn’t know you have tattoos – she will find out

With any extended illness, and especially in hospitals, you will become intimately involved with your body. As will strangers, friends and family members. Hopefully not all your friends and family, if you and they are lucky. But certainly enough to support you in relinquishing any notion that your body is private.

Our culture is so shame based, that even at death’s doorstep we sometimes try to maintain some weird sense of modesty. Don’t misunderstand me, I have done enough hospice work to know that modesty is often the only thing someone has to hold onto in order to maintain a basic sense of human dignity. And then, there are times when you no longer get much of a say in who sees what.

Trust me, get over yourself. Your body is no worse or better than anyone else’s. It just is. Yes we need to take care of it, yes it requires our devoted attention and exquisite care to nurture it, heal it and love it – and I am not being coy or sappy. You learn to listen more intimately to your own body, inside and out. You learn to talk to your body, and if you’ve talked to it previously, you will now chat with it in new ways. Something I have taught my students in healing and wholeness classes for many years.

You learn to not care who sees what – for the most part. By the way, others are every bit as uncomfortable as you are about them seeing your nakedness, as you are of them seeing you exposed. I couldn’t get to a toilet by myself, I couldn’t brush my teeth without help, I couldn’t sit myself up, so seeing me in all my glory kinda paled by comparison.

Every nook and cranny becomes a point of fascination for someone. Get over it. Again, if you have secret tattoos, scars or piercings? Not any more. Don’t want someone to see your love handles, rolls of fat or breasts that now look like sausage rolls hanging to your belly button? Tough. Make peace with it. Quickly! Or you will waste your time trying to crawl back into a shell that no longer exists. See lesson #1 above.

When you are so ill that you can’t stand up or wipe your own butt, people will see your body. When you lie in a hospital bed for days, everyone under the sun will ask you if you have pain and will need a number for their “on a scale of 1 to 10” method of discerning your comfort. In this process of caring for you and meeting your needs, they will of course poke and prod your earthly suit for signs of fluid retention, blood pooling and god knows what else. Let them check, it makes them happy.

And when you are unconscious? You really don’t know what has gone on, and must trust that you were loved and cared for in very tender ways. You realize that your fragile body was carefully nurtured without your awareness and in so doing, someone probably saw something you never really wanted anyone to see. Like tattoos, piercings and scars.

In my case, I was being helped to the bathroom, with the ever so fashionable hospital gown open in the back, mooning whomever was in the room. And as I shuffled into the bathroom, I heard my mother say, “Hey, you have a tattoo! I didn’t know that.” Well, now you do. I knew tattoos weren’t my mother’s favorite thing, and I also knew she ultimately wouldn’t care, so for several years I had even forgotten she didn’t know. But I did know I never told her on purpose. Next tattoo I get I will let her know, and I’ll give her a heads up about the nipple piercings I am also considering – kidding mom.

Lesson #1

Lessons #2 & 3

Lessons #4 & 5