And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him.
Humanity is obsessed with death. From the business of dying to horror movies to what comes next, contemporary society is saturated in death. Yet, as we are obsessed with it, we are terrified of it. Even today we discuss in quiet rooms behind closed doors, often fighting an almost instinctual panic when the subject is broached. Of course, there are many other traditions, cultures, countries in this world that do not share such a troubled relationship with death or their dead, but I am not the most up to date on those things so I will let you seek out that information for yourself, it's truly fascinating so I hope that you do.
Dying to Be Reborn
The Death card in tarot is stark, unapologetic, and one of two cards I talk about concerning change. The other being the Tower card which you can find here (link).
Unlike the Tower card, which is sudden and altogether jarring, the Death card is slow, one we know we have to face in the end and ultimately accept. Maybe you know that you have to stop smoking, lose weight for your health, or get out of a dead end job, and you just can't bring yourself to do it until the last possible second when you literally have no other course of action.
Often that moment freaks us out so much that we hesitate and try to get out of doing anything about it, either consciously or not, and that just makes the death that is happening all the more painful in the process.
Learning to Talk to Death
We can talk about our moments of death, either literally or metaphorically. We can mourn publicly. We can grow from these moments. Ask yourself, what is it that I need to give up or let go? I bet you come up with an answer before you even finish the question. Then ask yourself what would it look like to give up that thing? What will your grieving process look like? What will grow from the ashes of the forest one you allow it burn to the ground?
Facing the World Unknown
There is a feeling we sometimes experience in the midst of a large change, almost as if we are asking: "Do you not know what I am going through? How can you go through your regular day?" and it is this feeling, surreal as it is, that greets us on our first few shaky steps out into the world after Death has visited us. We fight, we deny, we try to smile and get on with the day without dissolving into a mess of tears and other emotions.
I think that the Death card holds the key to dealing with change and engaging the world around us, before, during, and after. There is a sunrise in the Rider-Waite-Smith version that comes up over the horizon and that communicates that this moment is temporary. You need to look to the coming dawn in order to see that there is a still a road to walk after this visitation from our pale rider.
What will you let slip away into the ether? How will this affect your life? And what will tomorrow morning look like now that you've committed to letting this thing cross over?