Photo by Elizabeth Wagele
Jan, Perfectionist with a Peace Seeker wing (Enneagram type 1), suffered from stress as many Perfectionists do. Her defense against her fear of death was to worry excessively about whether she was doing things right. In the following story, she describes how tackling her fears led to becoming a Grief Counselor.
In Part I we learned that Death and Dying terrified Jan until she found the only experience powerful enough to shock her out of her downward spinning vortex was to be in the presence of someone who was dying. Here, in Part II she begins by explaining how she feels after she has been jettisoned out of her anxiety into a place of peace.
Facing the Fear of Death: The Gift of Dying, Part II
By Jan Conlon
I feel I’m being held in the arms of a mother, allowing me to let go and give myself over to something bigger and more powerful than I could ever be. My spinning cycle relaxes and a sense of safety enables me to open my mind. My Inner Critic stops judging me, others, or any part of the process. Inner peace leads to a simple state of being. I gradually realize I am not responsible for, nor do I have any power over, most things that happen around me. I begin to breathe deeply and fall into a serene acceptance of life, with all of its beauty and all of its pain.
How did I get from being terrified of Death and Dying to this better place?
One day, in my own personal consciousness-training work, I realized how much my fears, especially of death, were affecting my entire being. I made a decision to fight against them. I started collecting skulls and skeletons, and surrounded myself with them in my bedroom. It gave me almost a sick pleasure to have these stark examples of death and dying in front of me. I jumped into this collection. What a relief to stop fighting this real part of life, accept it — and eventually embrace it.
As I became more comfortable with the presence of death around me, I found myself drawn to it even more deeply. It called to my center because death is real and genuine. As I studied more about the subject, I felt called to the study of grief and loss, and eventually became a Grief Counselor.
The gifts of doing counseling work have been immense. Working with clients I am in the presence of truth. As I support others in this work, I also remind myself of the gifts of surrendering, of there being no right or wrong, just intense presence to the moment. My Inner Critic is mostly silent, and I feel free. The reality of death is so clearly beyond my control that it is a relief to give up to something bigger; truly, this has been a pathway to surrendering and letting go.
From The Enneagram of Death—Helpful Insights by the 9 Types of People on Grief, Fear, and Dying by Elizabeth Wagele, published by the International Enneagram Association.