Death and continuation

What happens when we die? Do we die at all? Is birth the start of or lives or just a moment of transition? My personal feeling, informed largely by Buddhist and Quaker thought is that life is evolving and everything that makes any moment possible ; the sun, the trees, the skin, bone, brain matter…comes together and continues to do so time after time as life. Yet there is a significance to someone passing. This song is about my Grandmother – I wrote it in the year after Nanna Swan passed away and while I felt maybe I should have felt sad about it, I actually felt enthusiastic about learning to love someone in a new way, I had recently been reading books on meditation that broached the subject asking questions as I do above. My other Grandparents had passed away when I was much younger, but along with a new acceptance these events were not wrong but a part of what life is, I began to talk to my Grandmother, as questions and develop a newness to our relationship. So where is your Grandmother, a friend asked, and the word everywhere came to me.

I would love to hear your thoughts and songs for this playlist.

Amy, London

Love this Joe. ❤ Having lost my dad in September, thoughts of life, death and continuation are never far from my mind. I feel so lucky to have learnt about this concept – when I’m contemplating the ‘cloud in my tea’ I’m also contemplating my father and my ancestors in me and how I will one day be in trees and flowers. Its mind-boggling, but grief isn’t what I expected when I think of things this way. Its obviously very upsetting sometimes and I allow the tears to flow when they need to, but sometimes I have moments of hearing the jokes that my dad would make about something, or I notice his characteristics in me, and these are almost like little moments of continuation celebration. When I was doing my counselling training, I really loved the idea of ‘continuing bonds’ which is a model of grief in which the griever is encouraged to integrate the dead into their lives in new ways, rather than ‘get over’ the death.


Gina, London

I feel the same as you Joe. I’m half my mum and half my dad. So physically they are me. I find it extremely logical. I am fascinated by death. I can’t believe more people aren’t and dont talk about it more.

I have found peace and comfort in the feeling that when my relatives die (and I guess we are all related if you go far enough back) they live on in me. They become me if you like and I become more like them. I even feel closer to them, or understand their essence more.

I also wonder (something my husband first mentioned actually) whether DNA holds memory. So, a certain place or smell or song will make me feel a certain way even though I have never had experience of it before.

Eleanor, Cornwall

I really believe in this, that we live other people’s legacies in our own lives. I always think of my grandparents as a compass for my life. That we live the love and honour that other people taught us, therefore continuing their legacy.

Sanjay, Nottingham

I’ve become quite a fan of Russell Brand these last years – here Russell talks to grief expert David Kessler – thought I’d add it in here.

One thought on “Death and continuation

  1. I have found peace and comfort in the feeling that when my relatives die (and I guess we are all related if you go far enough back) they live on in me. They become me if you like and I become more like them. I even feel closer to them, or understand their essence more.

    I also wonder (something my husband first mentioned actually) whether DNA holds memory. So, a certain place or smell or song will make me feel a certain way even though I have never had experience of it before.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts Joe. And what a lovely gift of song to Nanna Swan.

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