What Endures the Passage of Death

Shortly before her death an older woman living in Europe dreamed:

I have packed two suitcases, one with my working clothes, the other, a trans-Europe suitcase, with my jewelry, my diaries, and my photos. The first is for the mainland, the other for America. [reported by Marie-Louise von Franz, On Dreams and Death, p. 64]

Von Franz states that death is often conceived as a journey to and unknown land, generally in the West, location of the setting sun.

Another elderly woman approaching death dreamed:

My son is taking me and other family members to Australia. He says we can’t bring extra clothes with us. I can, however, bring my jewelry. I am looking for my earrings but cannot find them. Everyone is looking for them and our trip to the airport is delayed because of this.

These dreams have to do with death and the soul’s journey to the Beyond. This is conveyed through the image of travel to a distant and unfamiliar land. Clothes and related accessories are symbols of the persona, the role we play in life. Jewelry, however, especially quality jewelry, represents something more enduring and valuable than clothes. Jewelry is often inherited, received as a special gift, or as an expression of love and commitment, as with an engagement ring.

Clothes are outgrown; they deteriorate and are discarded. Likewise, the identity and sense of self that suited you at one stage of life feels constricting and awkward at another. You outgrow and are asked to let go of old roles. Quality values and quality life experiences, on the other hand, such as those memorialized in a diary, a photo, or a special piece of jewelry, are not outgrown. In fact, we usually try to pass them on to the next generation. They have a meaning that connects us to our soul and the soul of others.

The dreams indicate that it is the quality things in us that make the trip to the other side. The things that have helped us to become more conscious, that have enriched, deepened, and contributed to the integrity of our personality, these are what we take to the afterlife.

The dreams also warn, however, of the danger of losing or misplacing what is important in life. It is possible to live life poorly, valuing or chasing after things that derail rather than deepen your journey of self-growth and self-knowledge. There is a danger of forgetting what is truly important in life such as love, honesty with yourself and others, and learning the specific lessons you were put here to learn. It is possible to enter the afterlife spiritually and psychologically impoverished because you never really lived the life you were meant to live.

Reference:
1) von Franz, Marie-Louise. On Dreams and Death. Shambhala Publications, Inc., Boston.1987.

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