Tag Archives: mortality

Deepak Chopra: How Do We Relieve Existential Suffering?

We’ve all experienced the fear and pain that can come from considering our own demise. What is the meaning of life, and how do we rise above the uncertainty of it all? In this episode of “Ask Deepak” on The Chopra Well, Deepak Chopra discusses suffering related to our sense of identity in relation to the world – also known as existential suffering.

Does existential suffering arise from awareness of our mortality? What are the causes and how can we remedy this type of suffering? Looking at Vedantic traditions, Deepak’s list of five reasons that lead to existential suffering can be overcome by understanding that our fear is largely a projection of consciousness. True consciousness is an infinite field of creativity, much grander than the confines of our projected reality.

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What Will You Do When Your Life Flashes Before Your Eyes?

the pathI had an interesting experience yesterday. One of those life-flashes-before-your-eyes kind of moments.

I won’t go into the particulars of the incident, but what is important is that I saw how, in a few short seconds, my life could have been gone and, after a breath or two, the realization that I was still here.

This sat a little heavier with me than it might most people because I’ve experienced being on the other side of loss, where I was the surviving half of a pair. I’ve written about this before, as it was the slow-but-sure catalyst for a complete collapsing and rebuilding of my inner and outer life, perspective, and purpose.

For a long time after I had reentered society and “healed,” I noticed that I was hyper-sensitive to the small things in life. Giving someone a hug, saying goodbye or hello, a bird flying by, listening to a heartbeat – these all struck me as so precious and fleeting. I marveled at how no one else seemed to recognize the value in these small moments, while also realizing I could not live with this kind of intensity. I could not keep treating each moment as if it could be the last.

Or could I?

If I did value each moment as if it could be the last, it ramped up my experiences to the level of sacred. It slowed down the pace of life to one slow-motion moment. Life simultaneously filled and broke my heart every day from the sheer happiness at being alive and the knowledge that this too will end someday.

Over time this intense attitude faded some, as you can imagine. I got comfortable with my new normal life. I was able to enjoy it without valuing it as priceless. I told myself it just wasn’t sustainable to live with that kind of intensity.

I now realize it wasn’t sustainable because I wasn’t yet strong enough to sustain it.

It takes a lot of strength to take on life fully, with all its rawness, beauty, fullness, and heartbreak. It takes a strength and commitment that no one can give us because it has to come from the inside out. Perhaps this is why we tend to get inspired or feel fearless momentarily, and then slowly fade back into a more comfortable zone of living where people are nice, loving, and live their lives with an ease and trust that everything’s going to be alright. We’re all going to live to a hundred, tragedy doesn’t touch us, and let’s put off that dream until tomorrow.

I found certain kinds of yoga lit the flame deep inside me to live my fullest life, to face my fears, and to live each day as if I was going to die tomorrow.

That’s a question that works wonders for me, and I often call on it when I feel especially afraid or especially self-conscious about putting myself out there.

I ask myself, If you died tomorrow, would you wish you had done this?

The answer is usually yes. Because in the light of death, vulnerability doesn’t seem so scary. In the light of death, vulnerability is all there is. It allows us to turn ourselves inside out, not so much for all the world to see, but more for us to see. For us to feel. For us to let out all our inner, protected, sensitive layers and let them feel the freedom of being unprotected and fully alive.

In the light of life, vulnerability is dangerous. It exposes us and that means people might be able to poke a hole in our armor with their harsh words, opinions, or indifference.

It also means people could get inside us. God forbid someone come up close and touch our beating heart, see our deepest fears, or learn that we are only human like them.

I’ve often thought when our lives flash before our eyes it would happen quickly, in our last moments of life. Isn’t that how it’s always portrayed in the movies or in stories?

My experience of my life flashing before my eyes was quite slow. It happened over the course of hours, as I witnessed every step I took in my daily life that I might not have been able to take. Everything I might normally take for granted I saw as alive, priceless, fascinating, and almost unreal.

Even so, I saw old patterns acting themselves out. Fear, defenses, walls. It was as if, since I was still alive, I still felt I had to protect my “self” somehow.

This is the glory of being human.

I find it unfortunate that it often takes loss or trauma to remind us of the intrinsic value of life, of a breath, of a heartbeat. The urgency and brevity of life often does not fully register in us until we are faced with our own mortality or that of someone close to us.

It’s not just every new day that is a gift, an opportunity, and an invitation to live fully.

It is every moment.

Every moment we can choose to embrace or pass by. And it is not just an invitation. It is our obligation. As humans, as parents, as partners, as friends, as children, as human beings it is our obligation to step into our lives fully, so that when our life flashes before our eyes, we will not have to wonder, What would I have done if I knew I was going to die today?

We will have already done it. We will have already done it, spoke it, wrote it, shared it, lived it.

In the words of Mary Oliver, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

Facing Death and Rediscovering Life

What do you do when you’ve been diagnosed with a life threatening condition? Live life, of course! That’s exactly what Alice Pyne, a British teenager who blogged about her dying wishes, did – though she never expected worldwide support in achieving her dreams.

"It doesn’t look like I’m going to win this one,” she writes on her Alice’s Bucket List blog. “The cancer is spreading through my body. It’s hard because I gave it my all. And it’s a pain because there’s so much stuff I still want to do. Anyway, Mum always tells me that life is what we make of it."

Alice’s bucket list blog is the list of things she’d like to do before she dies, and she marks them DONE when a wish list item is complete –like swimming with sharks, meeting British pop stars Take That, and a movie night with friends.

Pyne admits she only expected the blog to be read by a few friends; however, it made its way around the world inspiring supporters from Canada, Australia and America to help her accomplish her dreams. Generous readers have offered Alice everything from photo-shoots to trips, and she continues to share her experiences through her blog.

I have never been given the grim news of a prescribed time of death – and I can’t even begin to understand how Alice must feel. But at one point in my life I lost 4 very close family members in 8 short months. During the healing process, I learned to live life more fully through the experience of death.

It’s been 10 years since my father, auntie and both grandmothers passed away and finally I have the clarity and composure to write about the lessons it brought me.

Both my father and aunt left their Earth suits months apart after courageously battling the big C. At the time, I couldn’t fathom how I would get past that experience. Then things got worse. Both of my grandmothers passed away a few months later – 4 deaths in 8 months. Whew… deep, melancholic physical, mental and spiritual pain ensued.

The loss hurt so much that I didn’t talk much for three months. When I crossed the street, I didn’t look left or right. I didn’t care if a Mack truck struck me. I felt like a large part of me was gone forever.

My sister, Lynn, described it best when she said, “I feel like I lost my purse and in it, I had everything that mattered to me.” Ok, well, I don’t have a man-purse, but I can say I could feel her on this one!

But in my deepest darkest time, I eventually began to thaw and saw light and felt warmth that eventually started to fill that hollow, dark space, void of life. I guess this is what death feels like to the living. On the contrary, I guess this is the visceral feeling of how it feels to live consciously. Three months after the last death, I started to regain feeling again.

I can clearly and consciously say that this life lesson about death made me love and revere life and the myriad of experiences even more – yes, I’m saying that the deaths of my loved ones made me love living even more.

Many friends have wondered, “How can you say that? That’s very optimistic.”

The truth is, my spirituality started to emerge. Like little spires of life that emerge after a forest fire like little signs of life blossoming from the charred debris and soil in the aftermath of the raging flames. The deaths were a firestorm of emotions that ensued, but the lesson they brought was light and love. I suddenly saw God through people, plants, children, etc. I felt love through their actions.

One friend said, “I know you feel like you’re in a vortex of darkness and you are freefalling, but know that I’m here for you, so call me anytime, even in the middle of the night, if you need someone to talk about how you’re feeling.” Another friend offered to pay my bills until I could get back up on my feet. I could not accept this generous offer, but I accepted the intention and love behind such a statement.

This powerful lesson also shined light on my own inner power, like the little seedling, that wanted to emerge, but was too afraid of the light.

Perhaps Marianne Williamson’s quote explains how I felt best:
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.’ We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

What I’ve learned from these tragic experiences made me realize that our time on this planet is limited. I gained this sense of urgency — what is it that I’m doing to make my mark and create a legacy that will outlive me; what message do I hope to give the world? That question led me on this quest or passion work called GoInspireGo – my goal: to help viewers “Discover and Use Your Power to Help Others.”

Alice has inspired me to start a ‘living life list’ right now…

In the wise words of Alice Pyne, "I’ve created a bucket list because there are so many things I still want to do in my life … some are possible, some will remain a dream. My blog is to document this precious time with my family and friends, doing the things I want to do. You only have one life … live it!"

What can you do to live a fuller life and how are you using it to help others? Are you living life or is life living you?

122 Year Old Yogi

"Do not go gentle into that good night…
Rage, rage against the dying of the light"
Dylan Thomas

Last year, I made the sad but somewhat lovely choice of giving a eulogy at my grandma’s funeral.  

It goes without saying, funerals are depressing and being that my grandma lived a full life, I wanted to shed light on the situation.

So I shared the story explaining why, in part, I enjoyed my time with her so much. As my Grandma was aging, she was losing her memory as many old people do.

And after that run of Grateful Dead concerts from 1992-1995, I seem to have lost a portion of my memory.

So Grandma and I would talk about the same things over and over and over again.

Neither of us knew any better, and neither of us cared. What joy.

Several times each month between 2006 and 2009, we’d go to Solley’s Deli on Van Nuys Boulevard in Los Angeles.

“So David, what have you been up to?” she’d ask.

“Been working on a book, trying to live in the moment, sharing the Yoga & Chocolate dream, an event coming up next week in Houston.”

“Wow sounds wahndaful,” she’d say in her East Coast accent while munching on some Solley’s bagel chips.

Then the waiter would come. Grandma would order chopped liver on rye, I’d get the tuna sandwich on wheat, and some of those delicious pickles.

“So David, what you have you been up to?” she’d ask.

“Yoga & Chocolate stuff, an event in Houston, did I tell you I was working on a book?”

“That’s great dear,” she’d say. “Wahndaful.”

The waiter would drop off my Dr. Brown’s Black Cherry soda and Grandma’s iced tea.

“David how are ya? Anything new?” she’d inquire.

As I put the finishing touches on the eulogy at her funeral, I looked at the audience to hopefully see at least a bit of comic relief.

And yes, my mom was laughing, fiancee laughing, brother laughing, friends and family laughing.

But I’ll never forget the look on the rabbi’s face. Something akin to how one would appear while getting fallatio and a colonoscopy…all at once.

Whether caused by my strange story, his untimely gas, a flirtatious glance from a guest in the audience, or all of the above, the rabbi’s look is plastered in my memory like a victim mummified in the ashes of Pompeii.

******

Last week, I read a story about Claude Choules, the last surviving World War 1 veteran who passed away at the ripe age of 110.

That would qualify Choules as a supercentenarian (110 or older), one of an estimated 300–450 living supercentenarians in the world, though only about 90 are verified.

Even rarer is a super-super centenarian like Jeanne Calment, who passed in 1997 at the age of 122 years and 164 days, the oldest human ever

(See photo of Calment at her 121st birthday).

Imagine turning 90 and knowing you had another 32 years to go…

…it could be awfully depressing if your health was bad.

But wouldn’t it be nice to see your children grow old, your grandchildren mature, and your great grandchildren find their place in the world.

Are you interested?

A study on supercentenarians found some qualities they have in common that you might find are very attainable:

–supercentenarians share a philosophy of the importance of being actively involved with life in a way that defines their purpose in still being on the planet.

–supercentenarians share a central core value of the importance that humor and laughter play in their perspective on life.

–supercentenarians have a unique ability to flow with life in a way that is outside of the cultural tendency to clock off time in a linear fashion.

–supercentenarians almost seem to live life in an "ageless perspective" of themselves. This detachment from a linear lifespan orientation may impact the strength and flow of their energy field in a desirable way that influences their longevity.

*****

I can’t say if my Grandma shared these qualities. She died at 91 and I’d bet her first step past the pearly gates was filled with relief to shed her aging suit and start anew.

But most of you are probably in the early or middle stage of life and can embrace right now the overarching supercentenarian philosophy… which can be summarized in one word: ATTITUDE

They live to the fullest, in spite of their hardships, embracing a joie de vivre.

Clause Chaules swam in the ocean everyday until he was 100**.  Jeanne Calment ate almost 2 pounds of chocolate per day.

What if it was truly that easy? One moment of deep pleasure each day keeps the grim reaper away.

Or even more to the point, as Mark Twain said, “The fear of death follows from the fear of life.  A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.”

Live Like You’re Going To Die (Because You Are)

(For this week’s audio podcast, click here.)

You’re going to die.  I’m going to die.  Everyone around us is going to die.

The reality of death is, of course, both obvious and daunting for most of us.  With the recent tragic events in Japan and some very serious health news I received from someone close to me, I’ve been thinking about life and death a lot this past week.  I was on a run a few days ago and thought to myself, "I wonder what it’s like to know you’re going to die?"  Then I thought, "Wait a minute, we’re all going to die – we just don’t act like it."

As simple as this thought was, it was profound for me.  I don’t live my life all that consciously aware of my own death.  My own fears about death (mine and others) often force me to avoid thinking about it all together.  I do catch myself worrying about dying; sometimes more often than I’d like to admit, especially with our girls being as young as they are – Samantha’s five and Rosie’s two and a half.

I also don’t talk about death that much because it seems like such a morbid topic, a real "downer."  I worry that it’s too intense to address or that if I focus on death I will somehow attract it to me or those around me superstitiously.

And, as a culture we don’t really like to talk about death or deal with it in a meaningful way since it can be quite scary and is the exact opposite of so much of what we obsess about (youth, productivity, vitality, results, beauty, improvement, the future, etc.).

But what if we embraced death, talked about it more, and shared our own vulnerable thoughts, feelings, and questions about it?  While for some of us this may seem uncomfortable, undesirable, or even a little weird – think how liberating it would be and is when we’re willing to face the reality of death directly.

Steve Jobs gave a powerful
commencement speech at Stanford in 2005 entitled "How to live before you die."  In that speech, he said, "Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart."

Contemplating death in a conscious way doesn’t have to freak us out.  Knowing that our human experience is limited and that at some mysterious point in the future our physical body will die, is both sobering and liberating. 

The reason I’ve always appreciated memorials services (even when I’ve been in deep pain and grief over the death of someone close to me) is because there is a powerful consciousness which often surrounds death. When someone passes away we often feel a certain amount of permission to get real in a vulnerable way and to focus on what’s most important (not the ego-based fear, comparison, and self criticism that often runs our life).

What if we tapped into this empowering awareness all the time – not just because someone close to dies or because we have our own near-death experience, but because we choose to affirm life and appreciate the blessing, gift, and opportunity that it is.

Here are some things we can think about, focus on, and do on a regular basis that will allow us to live like we’re going to die, in a positive way:

1)  Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff – As my dear friend and mentor Richard Carlson reminded millions of us through his bestselling series of books with this great title, life is not an emergency and most of the stuff we worry about, get upset about, and obsess about is not that big of a deal.  If we lived as if we were dying, we probably wouldn’t let so many small things bother us.

2)  Let Go of Grudges – One of my favorite sayings is, "holding a grudge is like drinking poison, and expecting the other person to die."  Everyone loses when we hold a grudge, especially us.  If you knew you were going to die soon, would you really want to spend your precious time and energy holding onto anger and resentment towards those around youor people from your past (regardless of what they may have done)? Forgiveness is powerful – it’s not about condoning anything, it’s about liberation and freedom for us.

3)  Focus on What Truly Matters – What truly matters to you?  Love? Family? Relationships? Service? Creativity? Spirituality? Our authentic contemplation of death can help us answer this important question in a poignant way.  If you found out you only had a limited time left to live, what would you stop doing right now?  What would you want to focus on instead?  And while we all have certain responsibilities in life, asking ourselves what truly matters to us and challenging ourselves to focus on that, right now, is one of the most important things we can do.

4)  Go For It – Fear of failure often stops us from going for what we truly want in life.  From a certain perspective (the ego-based, physical, material world) death can be seen as the ultimate "failure" and is often related to that way in our culture, even though people don’t usually talk about it in these blunt terms.  However, this perspective can actually liberate us.  If we know we’re ultimately going to "fail" in life (in terms of living forever), what have we really got to lose by taking big risks?  We all know how things are going to turn out in the end.  As I heard in a workshop years ago, "Most of us are trying to survive life; we have to remember that no one ever has."

5)  Seize the Day – Carpe diem, the Latin phrase for "seize the day," is all about being right here, right now.  The more willing we are to surrender to the present moment, embrace it, and fully experience it – the more we can appreciate and enjoy life.  As John Lennon famously said, "Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans."  Living like we’re going to die is about remembering to fully engage in the present moment, being grateful for the gift that it is, and doing our best not to dwell on the past or worry about the future.  If today were your last day, how would you want to live?

Death can be difficult and scary scary for many of us to confront. There is a lot of fear, resistance, and "taboo" surrounding it in our culture and for us personally.  However, when we remember that death is both natural and inevitable, we’re reminded that everyone’s life (whether it lasts for a few days or a hundred years) is short, precious, and miraculous.  This awareness can fundamentally and positively alter the way we think, feel, and relate to ourselves, others, and life itself.  Living as if we’re going to die (and remembering that it’s guaranteed) is one of the best things we can do for ourselves and those around us.

How can you start living your life for more conscious of your own death, in a positive and empowering way?  What can you do right now to let go of what’s not important, focus on what truly matters, and seize the day? Share your thoughts, ideas, insights, actions, and more on my blog
here.

To listen to this week’s audio podcast, including additional thoughts, ideas, and tips, click
here
.

PHOTO (cc): Flickr / luc.viatour

Dead At 32: What Jamie Dyer Dordek Can Teach You About Living

I didn’t meet Jamie until after she died. 2009-06-04-Jamiephoto_3.JPG

Think life is certain? Guess again.

Jaime was a blaze of florescent colors until she stepped off a curb and sprained her ankle. The blood clot from that minor accident traveled to her brain and killed her.

Jamie Dyer Dordek was 32.

I got to know Jaime through her family, friends and her wonderful blog before I spoke at her memorial service. Even though Jamie only got 32 years to cram her life into, she lived her life full out. There wasn’t a person in that room whose life hadn’t become more vibrant because of The J Woman. I couldn’t help falling in love with her myself.

Jamie reached out. On line. Standing in line. Traveling. At home. With Andy. At work. Her smile and laughter couldn’t be contained by physical space. She made the planet Earth a better place for being here.

So here are tips for living…Jamie Style.

1) Pick Out The Olives

Jaime had the guts to love bacon and hate water chestnuts, melon and olives. Do you eat food you don’t like? With people that don’t inspire you? Cease and desist. Life is short.

Water chestnuts are garbage. They make absolutely no sense whatsoever. Tasteless, obtrusive and disgusting. Melon I at least kind of understand. It’s sweet, people like sweet. I consider it unnecessary filler. Olives make the most sense to me. I see why people love them. They’re salty and can have real depth of flavor. I just happen to think they are also incredibly foul. Luckily, they are the kind of ingredient that one can simply pick out of an otherwise great meal. –JD

Tip: Give yourself what you love, love, love! It’s your life. Pick out the olives.

2) Love it, Like It or Don’t Look
Jaime was comfortable in her own skin. She was a big girl dashing about in a skinny-girl-hyper-hip world. Did she moan about her thighs? No. Did she focus on the small stuff? No.

I realize how unimportant most of the crap we worry about is. Do people like me? Do they want to hear what I have to say? Am I cute enough? Am I desirable enough? Jesus, Mary and Joseph, a person could go crazy. So, I say, Do what makes you happy. Unless pleated pants make you happy. In that one small case, do what makes me happy. Everything else is yours.–JD

Tip: Love it, like it or don’t look.

3) WWBD?
"Life goes better with…bacon!" was Jamie’s motto. Having grown up on a farm in Kansas I know what a pigpen smells like. I don’t get near things pig related. Not so for our Jamie. She surrounded herself with all things bacon. She had bacon band-aids, bacon mints and her prized possession a folder the WWBD "What Would Bacon Do?" folder. In a bind? Spin the arrow to discover the sage wisdom of bacon to guide your decision-making. (I was so curious that I had to get one for myself.)

Tip: Find your bacon. Fill your life with what you love, love, love and leave the rest.

4) The Diet Coke Friendship Test
Jaime made friends…everywhere. And I do mean everywhere. She even made friends in business. (A huge tip for anyone in business.)

Pick your friends because they make you laugh. They look up to you and you can look up to them. Who cares what they look like or what social strata they belong to? If they can make diet coke fly out of your nose or pee your pants a little, they’re keepers in my book.

I decided to pick my friends on how they made me feel. I found my chosen family based on actual emotion. I’ve never looked back.–JD

Tip: The Friendship Equation
They Admire You plus You Admire Them plus Diet Coke Runs Out of Your Nose Laugher= FRIEND

5) Make It Blaze, Baby
Jamie lived full tilt. She made a difference. Her family and friends say that the world isn’t as colorful without her.

Now, it’s our turn. Now, we are her hands. We are her smile. From this day forward how can you make a person next to you smile or laugh? Or give away that last pair of pleated pants?

Eli Davidson is a nationally recognized executive coach and motivational speaker. Her book, "Funky to Fabulous: Surefire Success Stories for the Savvy, Sassy and Swamped", (Oak Grove Publishing) has won three national book awards. Eli is a reinvention catalyst, who can transform your professional and personal life from Funky to Fabulous with her ten, trademarked Turnaround Techniques that create rapid and remarkable results. Check out her blog at http://funkytofabulous.blogspot.com/

Death as Mystery: On Natasha Richardson

Many years ago, at a party in Los Angeles, I had the pleasure of speaking for a while to Natasha Richardson.

What I remember is how kind and gentle she was. I realized her pedigree — that she was Vanessa Redgrave’s daughter — and throughout our conversation, I silently marveled at her humility and authenticity.

Her death was a reminder of something so deep, I’m not sure any of us has quite put it into words yet. Her mother, her husband, her beauty, her career, her children – put it all together, and she was one of the magical people who had it all.

And then she was gone.

Just like that. Like a shooting star. She was here, so very powerfully here, and then she was gone.

Richardson had everything we think of as that which saves us from oblivion, yet those very things dissolved into oblivion in one moment on a bunny hill. Reality transformed into no-longer-reality in the blinking of an eye, forcing us to question both the nature of that which is and the nature of that which is not. She who was so alive having been pronounced dead, and she who was dead still seeming so alive, we gazed at her as though she stood at the door. Which she did. Which she does. Which is the point.

I have no doubt that wherever she is now, Natasha’s soul is at peace and in a happy place. Yet just as surely, we know that the human agony of those she left behind is beyond description.

Even within their pain, however, I’m sure that those who loved her most can feel the mystery that lay inherent in her passing. I assume there are moments when her husband, her mother, her children, and all those who loved her can feel her arms around them even now. She came from creative people, and to creative types the membrane that separates this world from the world beyond the veil is thinner. Even gossamer. For the artist is a natural mystic, as the sacred is their ultimate calling. A magnificent woman has shed her physical body, bringing to those she left behind a most terrible sadness. But her soul still lives, beyond the veil, and in that realization those who are now most sad may find in time the greatest joy.

When Jesus said "death will be the last enemy," what he meant was that one day we will see that it isn’t one. For in spiritual terms, the dead do not die. Whom God hath brought together, nothing and no one, not even death itself, can put asunder. It is not the reality of death, but only our belief about its reality, that ultimately causes us sorrow and pain.

From a spiritual perspective, those who die still live; they simply no longer materialize physically. It’s like they’re only broadcasting on cable now, and our human sets still only pick up network. But they continue to broadcast, for in God there is no end of run.

As we, the members of the human race, embrace more and more the vision of a life that does not end, our physical senses will expand to match our broadened perception. As it turns out, Natasha Richardson – with all the sweetness and humility that marked her earthly self – had one more credit to her resume, one none of us would have known before. With her sudden and early departure, her life turns out to have been a mysterious teaching. It calls us now to look beyond appearances, and to appreciate the eternity of life. Surely, her greatest line is this: "I am here. I did not die."

May that thought – a Truth that casts out all darkness, even death itself – be a comfort now to those who grieve Natasha Richardson, and to all of us who grieve at all. The veil is there, but it is permeable. And within it, there is a door.

— Marianne Williamson

 

To read more from Marianne Williamson, visit her official website at www.mariannewilliamson.com

Saying Good-Bye with Grace

 

Meditate on this….Saying “Good-Bye” with grace.
Suzanne, my friend from the Netherlands, has always said, “Each time you say good-bye a small death occurs in your heart.” She has repeated and repeated this to me every time we have departed from all the different cities we have traveled to around the world. Each time, I feel it in my heart, the sadness of having to depart and not knowing if we will meet again. While, we do not know if that is the last time we will ever see each other—we have a joyful sentiment in our heart. This inspires me to draw a correlation between saying good-bye and facing your mortality.
Yesterday, I went to say good-bye to a childhood friend’s father. He suddenly has been faced with his mortality three months ago. The entire family has been in and out of hospitals visiting specialists and trying to get to the bottom of his mysterious cancer that has invaded his body. They have been on an emotional roller coaster and realize that the time they thought they had in the future is coming to screeching halt. However, something beautiful has taken over his spirit an acceptance and bracing himself for the big good-bye. Not knowing when or if he will be officially able to say good-bye, the entire family’s lives are in an upheaval. I reminded my dear friend that they have been given a gift to reconcile their past, make peace with a new future, and to enjoy all the moments until his very last day. 
Seeing “BIG” Mike brought back many memories of all the lessons he taught me and all the fun I have enjoyed with his family. Our visit was not long just enough to remind him of his time in the Air Force and talk about the Philippines and to silently say, “Good-bye” to memories of a distant past. As I left the house and gave him what might be our final hug and kiss, I took a deep breath and felt peace and freedom in his heart and mine. There was no fear just a serenity…our parting did not bring sweet sorrow it was filled with liberation. By finding peace in the good-bye I realize we both have made peace with our mortality. Now, when I say good-bye, I have gratitude in my heart for what might be our last moment and the memories that have been embedded in my soul.
Suzanne Toro….All is Possible
April 2009
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