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  • Sophia Dunkin-Hubby

Contemplating Death


Two Death Tarot Cards standing on a table in front of a white and gold calendar showing January 2022.

The Death Tarot card has been prominent for me in the past six months. It’s my Year Card right now. (For the uninitiated, the Tarot Year Card is based on your birth date and gives you an idea of major themes that may be prominent for you in the given year.) Death in the Tarot is about transformation – not just death but rebirth. In order to change we have to let go of parts of ourselves that don’t serve us anymore, to let them die. When I quit my job, I let part of myself go in order to align my external life with who I’ve become internally. But that makes it sound a lot simpler than it actually is. Transformation is a process, not a single moment in time.


It would be so much easier if it were a threshold. Once you pass over it, you’re done. Congratulations! I tend to treat it this way. Then I get annoyed, even outraged, when I’m still catching up months later. Still settling in. And still letting go.


The last two months have been both wonderful and hard. Wonderful because I write every morning. It’s the thing I most want to do, and I get to do it without anything else standing in the way. Hard because I’m living at a different pace than I’m used to. My body and habits are all geared towards a faster pace. Slowing down feels a bit like white knuckling. Or maybe it’s because I’m finally aware of how much of my life I have been white knuckling my way through. Now that I have more time and space in my life, I regularly come face to face with things I haven’t had been able to deal with because I’ve been too busy. It’s also made me realize that I kept busy so that I didn’t have to face them.


I’ve been running from grief. From confronting my own mortality. (I don’t think it’s just me. I think we all have to varying degrees.) This is the part of the transformation process that I always forget about. The grief. Because to truly transform I have to not only physically let go of things, I have to grieve them as well.


Grieving things I loved. Things I hated. Things I never questioned before but took as a fact of life. Things that held me. Things that battered me. Things I wanted to love but couldn’t. Things I wanted to hate but couldn’t. I have to grieve the loss of the familiar even if something hasn’t served me for a while, or never really did. The choices I didn’t make just as much as the ones I did. The person I might have been. The person I was.


The grief isn’t logical. It contradicts itself. I look back on my life choices and can’t find anything that I’d change. The choices I would have liked to make from my position now are not ones I would have been capable of living to their fullest extent at the time. I have no regret for the life I have lived but at the same time I do. I regret the dreams I had in the past for my life now. I regret that I was not the person I am now sooner, what a life she would have lived, even as I know that I could not have been. I want more time.


We’re coming up on the turn of the year. A time for looking back. We're programmed to come up with resolutions, to dive into the new year by changing ourselves immediately for the better, but I'm coming to realize that what I need to do is hold space for what's gone. For the things I've left behind. To stop running from the grief and let it pass through me. It's part of the cycle of death and no transformation can be completed without it.

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