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Death: Life’s Final Transition

By Maureen Atkinson October 30, 2023 Mindset

It’s Halloween season! I know because a walk down the streets of our quiet neighbourhood means bumping into a few skeletons if not disembodied heads. While this is the time for us to think about the light side of death, our western attitude about death is so tinged with fear that we miss the opportunity to consider our own death or that of others whom we love.

A couple of weeks after Halloween, I will celebrate my and my late husband’s wedding anniversary, bringing back memories of him. So, of course, around this time at the end of each year death is on my mind.

Learning from Other Cultures

While thinking about death may sound morbid, I think that we can learn lessons from other cultures’ attitudes and beliefs around death. Understanding and embracing death can offer valuable insights and guidance during life’s transitions, especially for mature women.

South Asia

As a keen student of yoga, I have been learning more about the South Asian approach to these topics which emphasizes the cyclical nature of life and rebirth. The emphasis is to find your purpose and to provide selfless service related to that purpose. This purpose may go beyond this lifetime so that when you die, it is like taking off an old coat. Your body goes away but your essence and purpose continue only to be reborn through the karma cycle of birth and rebirth. The ultimate objective is moksha, the spiritual liberation that is our supreme goal.

Central America

A very different but related approach comes to us from Central America where the celebration of the Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos) is celebrated the day after Halloween on November 1. This is a celebration which combines native religions with the Catholicism of the conquistadors and honours our ancestors. Through these celebrations death is seen as a natural part of life, and maintaining a connection with the dead becomes part of everyone’s life from the youngest to the oldest family members.

This is the time in our lives when we face our own death as well as the death of many of those who are close to us. Understanding that our spouses, relatives and friends who die before us are part of a universal life force can be comforting as well as help us find peace in these life transitions.

Using Death for Personal Growth

Some practical ways to use these various approaches to death include:

Ancestral Heritage

Explore your ancestral heritage and the death-related traditions and wisdom within your family backgrounds. This self-discovery can provide a deeper connection to your own lives and transitions. I feel that I have come closer to my maternal grandmother as I have explored her life. Honouring her with passing on my knowledge about her to the younger members of our family has been very satisfying.

Write Your Own Obituary

What are the important things that you want to be remembered for? How much of these characteristics and actions are true now? While this may seem morbid, it can be a real revelation. Try it.

Mindfulness and Meditation

Practice mindfulness and meditation techniques that help you stay present and delight in this very moment. For the yoga culture, this is a way to find the true essence in you. At the very least, it can help you find a peace that you may not have found yet.

Understanding and accepting death can be a powerful tool for personal growth and transformation. I wrote about this in a blog from a few years ago called Four Ways to Deal with the Loss of a Loved One. Thinking about how we want to be remembered and what life force we want to emit can direct us in this important part of our lives propelling us through this time of transition.


Let’s Have a Conversation:

Have you thought about your death, or do you consider this too morbid a topic to ponder? What tradition did you grow up in, and how does death and dying factor in that tradition? Would you say your understanding of death is different at this time of your life?

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What a great article! I almost lost my husband late last year and I realized I had no idea what to do or who to call first. The doctors teamed up and managed to pull him through and we went right out and made arrangements for our wishes to be fulfilled once we die. What a relief. With the arrangements we made everything is set and paid for. No matter where we are (we travel all the time) there’s only one phone call to make and everything will be done for us regarding our remains. I like the Day of the Dead way of looking at life. I’ll have to explore other cultures both current and ancient to see what their take is. After all, it’s something we share with every person on the planet. No one gets out of life alive.


I have thought about my own death for a couple of years now. I think this has come about because I am estranged from my only daughter and therefore my two beautiful grandchildren. They will know nothing of half their family. Like all families we have a rich and interesting history – the fact those newest members of our family will learn nothing of their grandparents and great grandparents fills me with such sadness. Their mother (my daughter) is of this generation who are hell bent on erasing the past. I’m sure one day they will see the foolishness of their ways. So I am going to write about our family history and leave this in the hope that one day after I’m gone, they will learn about who they are and where they came from. And how much their grandma loved them.

Maureen Atkinson

Dolly, I am so sad to read your comment about your estrangement from your daughter. Do not give up hope, people change and situations change, Certainly, exploring and documenting your family is something that you can do now but stay open to finding some common ground. Grandparents have so much to share with grandchildren. I know that from my experience with my own grandmother. Finding out about her history gave me a new appreciation for her strength and endurance.

The Author

Maureen Atkinson is Founder of Lifeshiift, an online community that supports women in their third act to live healthy vibrant lives. An active role model, she inspires members that age should not limit new experiences and adventures through her speaking, blogs, and videos. You can reach Maureen at

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