The event of death isn’t avoidable, but the trauma of death is
Death is life’s scariest reality. Even when we see it happening around us, we shield ourselves from it by believing that it won’t happen to us, or at least it won’t happen to us for a long time to come.
Despite our denial, our body’s destruction is unavoidable; impermanence is the very nature of material nature. And death is traumatic to the extent we are attached to material things, starting with our material body – attachments that are inevitable in a material conception of life. We fear that we will lose everything dear to us, and we fear even that we ourselves will cease to exist.
We can overcome this dread by acquiring a spiritual understanding of life. The Bhagavad-gita stresses that beyond the destructible body is the indestructible soul. It (02.27) states that just as death is inevitable, so is the soul’s reincarnation after death. And we have an eternal relationship with the Supreme, Krishna, whose eternal parts we are.
Our post-mortem journey, as well as our pre-mortem journey is guided by the Supreme Lord who is present in our own hearts. The Gita (08.05) assures that if we remember him at the time of death, we attain him. Cultivating his remembrance is the essence of the practice of bhakti-yoga.
By diligent bhakti practice, we become increasingly attached to Krishna and increasingly attuned to his indwelling presence. We realize that he is always with us and that at death he will come with us – we won’t lose that which we are most attached to. To the contrary, we will go closer to him, eventually uniting with him for an eternal life beyond death.
With this understanding, when we face death, our consciousness rises beyond the trauma of bodily breakdown to devotional absorption in our Lord’s loving embrace.