Our hearts go out to the many affected by this morning’s tragic shooting at the US Navy Yard in Washington DC. Twelve people are reported dead – 11 victims and one shooter – with many others injured and in critical condition. Two other suspected shooters are still on the run.
Hundreds, even thousands, of other people – friends, spouses, siblings, colleagues, and peers of those killed and wounded – are also affected by the tragedy, as well as all of us around the country left wondering once again: Why the violence? Why the killing?
It is essential now that we treat the wounded, soothe the traumatized, and help the healing process of those who lost a loved one. We mourn together in times like these.
This is also a moment, though, in which some might revive conversations about gun violence and gun control, topics we are all too familiar with and yet which continue popping up after every incident of violence. Deepak Chopra weighs in on the debate in this episode of “Ask Deepak” on The Chopra Well. We invite you to watch the video and add your thoughts in the comments section below.
The days to come will hold grief, mourning, and the beginning of a healing process to which we add all our love and support. Please add your thoughts and messages of support in the comments section below.
Image credit: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images
My mom, Lois Dempsey Robbins, was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer in early March. The disease spread very quickly and on June 13th, she passed away. I was honored and grateful to be with her through her dying process. It was both horrible and beautiful at the same time.
My mom’s physical pain and deterioration, realizing that she was going to die and that at thirty-seven years old I would be without either of my parents (my dad died almost ten years ago), and knowing that my girls would grow up without their grandma (who absolutely adored them), were some of the most difficult parts of the experience.
However, the closeness, family connection, deep conversations, healing, insights, love, forgiveness, and support have been some of the most wonderful aspects of all of this – while she was sick, as she was dying, and in the past month or so since her death.
Four of the most intimate and sacred experiences of my life have been the births of our two girls and the deaths of each of my parents. I’m grateful and honored to have been able to experience all four of these magical moments live and in person. Although the emotions of the births and the deaths were quite different, the level of intimacy, sacredness, and profundity were of similar impact and depth for me.
I’m deeply engaged in my grief process right now – doing my best to stay present in the midst of the intense and contradictory thoughts and feelings I’ve been experiencing. While I’ve been feeling sadness and pain, I also feel a lot of love and appreciation – both for my mother’s life and all she taught me, and for the experience of being with her through her death.
Death teaches us so much about life and about ourselves, even though it can be very difficult to comprehend and experience – especially when the person dying is someone very close to us. As a culture we don’t really talk about it, deal with it, or face it in an authentic way. It often seems too scary, mysterious, personal, loaded, heavy, emotional, tragic, andmore.
What if we embraced death – our own and that of those around us – in a real, vulnerable, and genuine way? What if we lived life more aware of the fact that everyone around us, including ourselves, has a limited amount of time here on earth?
Embracing death consciously alters our experience of ourselves, others, and life in a fundamental and transformational way. It allows us to remember what truly matters and to put things in a healthy and empowering perspective. Doing this is much better for us than spending and wasting our time worrying, complaining, and surviving the circumstances, situations, and dramas of our lives, isn’t it?
One of the most profound things my mom said a few weeks before she died was, "I want people to know that they don’t have to suffer through this." As the end was getting closer, my mom’s awareness, insight, and desire to share her wisdom increased and it was beautiful.
Below are some of the key lessons I learned from her as she began to embrace death in the final days and weeks of her life. These are simple (although not easy) reminders for each of us about how to live life more fully:
1. Express Yourself – Say what you have to say, don’t hold things back. As my mom got closer to death, she began to express herself with a deeper level of authenticity and transparency. We had conversations about things we’d never talked about and she opened up in ways that were both liberating and inspiring. Too often in life we hold back, keep secrets, and don’t share what’s real – based on our fear of rejection, judgment, and alienation. Expressing ourselves is about letting go of our limiting filters and living life "out loud."
2. Forgive – My mom and I come from a long line of grudge holders. Like me, she could hold a grudge with the best of ’em. I watched as she began to both consciously and unconsciously let go of her grudges and resentments, both big and small. It was if she was saying, "Who cares?" When you only have a few months (or weeks) to live, the idea that "Life’s too short," becomes more than a bumper sticker or a catch phrase, it’s a reality. And, with this reality, the natural thing for us to do is to forgive those around us, and ourselves.
3. Live With Passion – Going for it, being bold, and living our lives with a genuine sense of passion is so important. However, it’s easy to get caught up in our concerns or to worry what other people will think about us. My mom, who was a pretty passionate woman throughout her life, began to live with a deeper level of passion, even as her body was deteriorating. In her final days and weeks, she engaged everyone in conversation, talked about what she was passionate about, shared grandiose ideas, and let go of many of her concerns about the opinions of others. It was amazing and such a great model and reminder of the importance of passion.
4. Acknowledge Others – At one point about a month or so before my mom died she said to me, "It’s so important to appreciate people…I don’t know why I haven’t done more of that in my life." Even in the midst of all she was going through and dealing with (pain, discomfort, medication, treatment, and the reality that her life was coming to an end), she went out of her way to let people know what she appreciated about them – and people shared their appreciation with her as well. My friend Janae set up a "joy line" for people to call and leave voice messages for my mom in her final days. We got close to fifty of the most beautiful messages, all expressing love and appreciation for my mom – most of which we were able to play for her before she passed away. Appreciation is the greatest gift we can give to others – and, we don’t have to wait until we’re dying to do it or until someone else is dying to let them know!
5. Surrender – While my mom clearly wasn’t happy about dying, didn’t want to leave us or her granddaughters, and felt like she had more to do on this earth, something happened about a month and a half before she died that was truly remarkable – she surrendered. For my mom, who had a very strong will and was a "fighter" by nature, this probably wasn’t easy. However, watching her surrender to what was happening and embrace the process of dying was truly inspirational and life-altering for those of us around her and for her as well. So much of the beauty, healing, and transformation that occurred for her and for us during her dying process was a function of surrendering. Surrendering isn’t about giving up, giving in, or selling out, it’s about making peace what is and choosing to embrace life (and in this case death) as it shows up. Our ability (or inability) to surrender in life is directly related to the amount of peace and fulfillment we experience.
My mom taught me and all of us that even in the face of death, it is possible to experience joy – what a gift and a great lesson and legacy to leave behind. And, as each of us consciously choose to embrace the reality of death in our lives, we can liberate ourselves from needless suffering, worry, and fear – and in the process experience a deeper level of peace and fulfillment.
How do you feel about death? In what ways would embracing death impact your life and relationships in a positive way? 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.
My recent trip to Italy resembled a Woody Alan movie. The overall structure was that of a tragic-comedy with the comic moments alleviating the intolerable. Every day was an unpredictable adventure. Aside from majestic ancient sites and gorgeous landscapes of mountains and sea, there were people who gave me incorrect change -in their favor- and Sicilian drivers who considered traffic rules as mere suggestions. In stark contrast loomed people who restored my faith in humanity. One such person was a policeman, Antonio, who after struggling to give my husband and me difficult driving directions to our hotel in Palermo, gave us a twenty-minute police escort! Offering to give him a “gift,” he gently declined it as he was polizia, but he hugged us extending his arms with a, “come here.” It was worth being lost, confused and fatigued from our long flights to experience this type of special kindness.
Flashback a few days prior while staying in an old world hotel in Rome, I was working out in the fitness room to get rid of my remaining jet lag. I was lifting weights and doing squats behind a woman with headphones running on a treadmill. In the mirrored wall I observed both myself and her at the same time. She resembled Lady Gaga. She looked prettier in real life with her delicate features and a tattoo on her shoulder, dressed in layers of black with her eye makeup a more toned-down version of the Gaga style. I wondered if this woman was a wannabe or was actually the celebrity in the flesh. There was no visible security, except perhaps for a couple of men lifting weights nearby. I pondered if I should address her as Lady Gaga. I decided against it as this might annoy someone who was working out and besides what would I say- the obvious that I like her music? And if she wasn’t Lady Gaga the whole thing would be silly. Ironically, she kept eyeing me in the mirror doing my resistance training. When my husband and I left for dinner, there were many teens gathered in front of the hotel. I asked the doorman if anything was going on. He sighed, “There’s a celebrity staying at the hotel.” “Oh, who?” I asked nonchalantly. “Lady Gaga.” I laughed and told my husband the story as I texted my daughter at home.
Then everything changed with a single phone call. My husband’s mother passed away and we had to reroute for the funeral. He imagined the funeral to be far worse than it actually was. A sunlit, green natural setting comforted us amidst the hill-top cemetery. We connected with family we had not seen in years and people shared their personal wisdom about the life cycle and their own experiences with the loss of their immediate family members. There was a circle of life and good people hugging one another.
My trip ran the gamut of highs and lows. I realized that we grow in unexpected ways when we travel. One learns to find interims of joy and beauty even when mourning a loss. Nature is restorative and intensifies our appreciation for being above ground. We can all notice celebrities and even become celebrities. Important people like Antonio have the power to change people’s lives forever with a single kind gesture.
Manu left yesterday. He left quietly, without any fuss. I remember how worried we all had been in 2009 when he had fallen terribly sick and we all thought he would not survive. But he did, beating all odds to treat us for a few more months to his smile and his incredible ways.
Since then millions of memories have flooded my mind, each more precious than the other each bringing a feeling of incredible warmth and comfort making me realise that he was more than just a project why child. In many ways he was a source of strength and even a mentor! I also realise that he was the most precious gift that the God of lesser beings had sent me, to show me the way and nudge me to take the road less travelled.
Many pass by the likes of Manu. Some at best would throw a coin his way others would simply recoil in horror. When I first met him he was not a pretty sight: his hair was matted coils, his body caked in his own dirt, his gait unsteady and his cries heart wrenching. I still do not know what made me stop and look into his eyes. But I did and that moment changed my life.
Manu’s story is no fairy tale, of maybe it is with him being the one who transformed lives and conjured miracles. God did have a mission for this broken and fractured soul, and the mission was project why! As it is for him that project why happened and flourished. My mission was to find him a home with a warm bed and a real family. I guess we both somehow succeeded in our missions as Many breathed his last in his warm bed, with his little family: Anjali, Champa, Aunty and Prabin, the ones who had loved and cared for him for the past years. I fell short of mine as I wanted him to be the first inmate of planet why, as its seed was sown the day I lay eyes on this blessed child of God.
When we first met Manu we had to take things one day at a time. Tame him at first, just as the little prince had tamed the fox. Learn his ways and decipher his moods. We did just that and to do it had to settle roots in the very street he roamed. Thus began pwhy.
The first days were difficult as he used to hobble away each time we tried to get close, or let out a heart rendering yell that stopped us in our tracks. But then we realised that he too was beginning to learn our ways and would find him waiting for us or hobbling towards us as he saw our car approaching. As I look back on those days I am filled with an incredible and yet indescribable feeling of warmth and love. My mind is flooded with feel good memories that I had forgotten. There are so many of them that come rushing, each filled with hope and tenderness.
I remember the first meal that I shared with Manu. We had got him some warm rotis and dal and sat him on a stool in front of our little classroom, his meal placed on another stool. He picked up his plate and balanced it on his knees and then patted the now empty stool and gestured me to sit on it. He then broke a piece of roti and dipped it in the dal and held it out for me. I took it and ate it oblivious of the glares of those around me who saw the dirt of Manu’s hands. I only saw love. That was perhaps the very instant when I was taught the true meaning of the fox’s secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye. Yes I realise today, as Manu is fighting for his life, that he was the one who taught me to look with my heart.
There are many special moments in the nine years that we have known Manu. Many huge moments like the first time Manu ate with a spoon or the first time he picked up a pencil and drew a picture (it still sits on my wall). I remember his fist ride in a car when we went to the jam session for special children and the first dance I had with Manu. I was amazed at how well he danced. I remember his first pedicure with Shalini rubbing his feet with a pumice stone and he making funny faces and sounds. I recall with pride and satisfaction the first meal Manu had in his own home after spending a night in his warm bed. And that is not all, this child of the streets who had spent the best part of his life as a beggar, turned into a perfect host as if he was to the manor born!
But above all Manu was the mirror to my soul, the one who have me the courage to look at myself with candour and honesty and showed me what I was capable of. Today I am lost yet I also know that I will have to continue my work with renewed effort to honour this very special soul’s memory.
When a loved ones make the transition to the world of spirit, those of us still on the earth plane, experience intense grief.
Grief is one of the hardest things to cope with in life, but cope we must, because as we get older, many people in our lives will enter the world of spirit before we do. However difficult, there are ways to cope with grief. Following are some suggestions:
Join a "Grief Group." Being with others who are also experiencing grief can be extremely helpful, even though the idea may not be appealing at first. One of my clients said to me "Why do I want to be with all those sad people?" I told her that being with others who are sad would allow her compassion for others to come forward and she would find herself helping others who are in emotional pain. There is nothing more healing than helping another person.
Invite Distraction: If you are in emotional pain, you NEED a break. Rent movies, go to a museum or do anything else that will distract you from your pain. Of course if you watch a movie there will be things that will remind you of the loved one you have lost. Most likely your relief from your grief will not be 100%, but right now even 50% relief would be great for you.
Read Positive Books: While it may make you angry when people suggest that you think positively when you are in grief, that is exactly what you need to do. Never have you needed positive thinking as much as you do now. It is only through faith that life will get better someday, that any of us can withstand the heart breaking feelings of grief. Go to the library, your book shelf or the bookstore and get books by positive authors. I will suggest one of my book/CD packages that is especially helpful to those in grief. It is called "Heart and Sound." Books by Eckhart Tolle will also be good for you at this time.
Know that Life is Eternal: As a psychic medium, I have it proven to me again and again, that when we die, our spirits live on. Having this knowledge has helped me to understand that my loved ones in the world of spirit are still there for me. I also know they are ok. Those who had cancer do not have cancer anymore. Those who had mental problems, do not have mental problems anymore. I also know that when it is my time to go to spirit, I will be with my loved ones, and in the meantime, their spirits are around me, watching over me. If you feel inclined, visit a Spiritualist church as we in the religion of Spiritualism understand that life is eternal and we communicate with those who have passed on. You do not have to be a Spiritualist to attend a service.
Take Extra Care of Yourself: When you are in deep grief, you must do everything you can to take good care of yourself. This is the time to eat healthy food, exercise and get enough sleep. Take a look at your schedule and make sure that you have time to do what you need to do for yourself. Also make time to be with the people you feel comfortable with. In some cases, you may have to take a trip to spend time with a family member or close friend.
Grief is DIFFICULT to cope with and if you want to cope you need to WORK HARD to cope. You cannot allow yourself to be wrapped in your grief 24/7. Know that your loved one in spirit would not want you to do that. Our loved ones who have passed on, want us to live happily for the rest of our lives.
Psychic Medium and Inspirational Author Carole Lynne
PHOTO (cc): Flickr / .Andi. ♡
It is said that the greatest fear of humankind is the fear of death. It could very well be, but I wonder.
What can be said truly is that we no longer have customs which sustain us when we face death. Just think of this one: wearing mourning clothes. Mourning clothes told everyone the mourner encountered that mourning was going on—without a word. Furthermore, mourning clothes were worn for designated periods of time depending upon the closeness of the mourner to the one who died.
My elderly mother-in-law died this year. I loved her; she was a pistol. I do not mourn her the way my spouse, her daughter, does. To look at my sweetie, you wouldn’t know she was in mourning. Should we reinstitute mourning clothes? Probably not, but it’s not a bad idea to wear a reminder of mourning for ourselves.
In this life, we all face death, dear one. Small deaths in disappointments, and factual death in the cessation of life in those we love. There are as many kinds of mourning as there are souls. If you are one who mourns right now, bring your fear of death with you into the process and let that be healed as well.
Dr. Susan Corso
Seeds are remarkable gifts. Sown in consciousness, they bring you to the most important part of your being—your Divine Spark.
Check out the Seeds Archive for past messages of inspiration.
For spiritual nourishment, visit Dr. Susan Corso’s website and blog, Seeds for Sanctuary. Follow her on Twitter @PeaceCorso and Friend her on Facebook. And discover your own Inner Peace at, To Me Peace Is … What is Peace to You?
My mom died 12 years ago, and I’ve been finding my way through grief and the dreadful missing that comes and goes the whole time. When my wife’s mother died the week before Christmas, I had no idea how it would affect me, or even if it would.
I liked my mother-in-law. She was a broad in the best sense of the word. Great sense of humor, sharp as a tack, fear-filled, and so adept at stirring the family pot that we swore she was born with a spoon in her hand. And, she died. Aged 92. Having lived, by her lights, too long.
To witness my sweetheart go through the beginning stages of mourning is a privilege. I am able to remember that my task is to provide a container to her process. I need to let her weep, let her rage, let her crumble, and gather her up like Humpty-Dumpty till the next time she falls apart. I have become the glue-you-back-together-for-now expert. All in a day’s mourning, so to speak.
The most interesting issue to me in this process is the dilemma around letting go of her family of origin. I released mine many years ago. When my mom died, the glue of our family dissolved with her. I like most of my siblings, but I don’t know them, and they don’t know me. I did, however, create a family of my own–a chosen family.
Family patterns, especially sibling behaviors, can be stark in the face of death. My darling and her brother and sister act out in a startlingly classical way. I think most families do over death. Their childhood roles take over their adult personalities and their actions (and feelings) become distended and imaginary.
This dilemma around biological family is what the death of the final parent provokes. For any of you who have been there, you know whereof I speak. If you have not been there, namely, still have a living parent, you cannot know what I mean. Even if you can understand it intellectually.
The initial aftermath of death is so often a flurry of activity. We have to let the flurry settle down before we can even self-talk sanely, let alone make conscious choices. The tendency in the blush of the moment is to make dramatic statements, to make dramatic gestures, to make dramatic ultimatums. None of these are helpful–either with self or others.
Wait for the drama to die down. Give it some time, if you’re in this situation. Let the flying fur settle. Then give yourself even longer to process what it means to live on the planet with no living parents. The principle effect is, of course, that the only approval you need is your own. That’s a life-changing truth.
You’ll keep your biological family–I speak to mine on holy-days and birthdays, or you won’t. You’ll create your own chosen family, or you won’t. You’ll have your mourning process, or you won’t. Don’t rush, dear one, grieve, mourn, cry, wail, gnash your teeth, and let yourself become who you will become when the death of the final parent finally comes.
For spiritual nourishment, visit Dr. Susan Corso’s website and blog, Seeds for Sanctuary. Follow her on Twitter @PeaceCorso and Friend her on Facebook. And discover your own Inner Peace at, To Me Peace Is … What is Peace to You?
My friend Mike is heavy on my heart this holiday season. I think of him everyday, always miss him, and have done wonderfully the last few holidays without having to put on any shows~it’s about being in the moment, being happy when there is happiness, and being sad when there is sadness…but I miss him, intensely.
Have you ever had that feeling, when feeling something intense, that pieces of your heart were almost literally dripping away into oblivion? Or dripping with tears? I have multiple reasons…and they weigh heavy on my heart. During the holidays it’s just much more intense.
I was with my friend Barbara yesterday. I took her to lunch for ‘our’ Christmas gift, I wanted to create a lasting memory with her. She has a disease that is incurable, and it’s slowly but surely taking over her body. I don’t know if I will spell it correctly (will do spell check, but not sure it’ll be in there) but Barbara has Scleroderma. It’s already affecting her lungs, her esophogus, and her heart, in addition to what it’s doing to her skin and muscles. She walks with a cane, and has so much difficulty doing anything that requires much energy for very long. She has been more of a sister to me at times than my own sisters. Her one wish is to live long enough to see her daughter happily married, with babies, her grandchildren.
There is much I’m celebrating this holiday season, and so many people I’m blessed to have in my life. I’m learning many lessons about what ‘have in my life’ means, whether that means they’re doing the best they can here, trying to have the best life possible, actively in my heart and life, or just nestled deeply in my heart, along with the memories of them and their love.
Some days it’s an intense juggling act, with tears blinding my eyes. Other days I just hold the emotions that are still very real close, and value them, and don’t regret their causes, and the people that came with them one little bit.
This holiday season I am celebrating the love around me, the love within me, and the love I can give.
Over this past week, there have been a few things that have caught my attention more than normal. I live in a small farming community between two bigger towns. The area is full of cemetaries, big and small, family plots, church plots, and city plots. In some of these cemetaries, there are mausoleums that are used as well.
Luckily the area I live in (and most surrounding towns) is very conscious of a funeral procession driving down the road. The lead cars come first the limos with the immediate families, then the hearse, followed by family and friends that have already attended the funeral, and are also attending the burial. Everyone has their lights on that is part of the procession.
Sometimes there are those thoughtless people that pay no mind to the fact this entourage is slowly, and sadly, making its way to the final resting place of someone’s loved one. Some are so thoughtless they weave in and out of the procession trying to get around them, some honk their horns demanding to be let around them.
Then there are the people I so admire, that almost bring a tear to my eyes. It matters not that it’s a four lane road this procession is making its way on, around here, in this small community, people will pull over on the sides of the road until the procession has made its way past, then they continue on with their business. There are those behind, that follow slowly behind the procession at a respectful distance.
It’s sad, even if it’s not someone you know, that you can’t show respect for someone passing through an area they may have loved, one final time. During this stately final ride, they deserve one last show of respect~they are due that if for no other reason than we are human beings that understand love and respect in the most basic of ways.
Then even more sad, a few days later, I was just driving into town looking around. Driving past the big cemetary on my way in, I always check early enough to see if there is a service going on so I can turn down my radio (sometimes when it’s warm, windows open, music playing loud, you have to remember where to pay attention). There is just no way knowing I could keep driving on by, music blaring, and right beside the road there are people mourning the death and burial of their loved one.
The other day when I was heading back home, I noticed something I hadn’t seen before~there was a tent set up in front of the vaults/mausoleums, and nobody was there yet. There were no cars present, maybe they just hadn’t arrived yet. I slowed down, because I also noticed there were no flowers set up (the trucks w/ the flowers always arrive well before the procession gets there). It just didn’t look finished, dressed up, like they normally are.
Then I got close enough, and that’s when I saw it.
Everything was in place, the tent was up, the carpet was laid down on the pavement, and there was one chair.
There was only one chair set up for this interment of a soul that had passed. Did only one person care? Did only one person know? Was there only one person mourning the death of this person?
and then it hit me…
One person did care, one person did know, one person was mourning the passing of this soul from one life to the next.
One person will remember, and that remembrance keeps the love alive, and real, and sometimes one person is all it takes.