The Reassuring Way Our Ancestors Embraced Death

John 3:16 - “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” Even when we know God’s love, death can be scary, but there’s reassurance in how some enslaved people viewed mortality.

The Reassuring Way Our Ancestors Embraced Death
Via Wikimedia Commons

For many, considering our mortality can be scary. Despite knowing God’s love, dying isn’t always comforting. But our enslaved ancestors viewed death differently.

Life during enslavement was the embodiment of trials and tribulations. Our people lived beneath the thumb of anti-Blackness, and the threat of death was always lurking – life expectancies were as short as 21.

They leaned on their spirituality, ancestral knowledge, and community to survive, and this profound understanding of death helped carry them through.

To many, death was a portal. In her book ‘Rituals, Runaways, and the Haitian Revolution,’ author Crystal Nicole Eddins writes, “death was not necessarily viewed as a condemnation, but as a path to freedom from bondage, a return to the homeland [Guinea], and an entry into the spirit world where there was an opportunity to further influence the natural world.”

Beyond embracing mortality, the ancestors had a God-given connection to those who came before them, and they wielded it in our people’s best interests through protection and resistance.  

They communicated with the dead, and this transcended the authority of their captors and kept true power within our communities.

There is power in shifting our perspectives to embrace death as a liberation portal where we can show up as our whole Black selves in the presence of God and our ancestors.

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