death as a space-maker

October 24th, 1837

Every part of nature teaches that the passing away of one life is the making room for another. The oak dies down to the ground, leaving within its rind a rich virgin mould, which will impart a vigorous life to an infant forest. The pine leaves a sandy and sterile soil, the harder woods a strong and fruitful mould.

So this constant abrasion and decay makes the soil of my future growth. As I live now so shall I reap. If I grow pines and birches, my virgin mould will not sustain the oak; but pines and birches, or, perchance, weeds and brambles, will constitute my second growth.

Henry David Thoreau

We deem death, any kind of death, to be avoided at all costs. And if not to be avoided then to be delayed. My grandmother’s death was delayed by months for little reason other than the fact that we were unable to let go. (I say this as her quality of life during her final months was so low: bedridden…unable to speak or express.)

Thoreau pointed out what we often avoid seeing– that death is a way of making room for another. The death of an oak provides fertile soil for a future forest. Not only is this true of death in nature, but also true for ideas. The end of one idea makes room for and fertilizes the growth of a new idea. The end of a relationship provides experience and questions to see in the next one.

The end of one thing feeds the next.