Jennifer Mathews, M.A., is a spiritual cheerleader and change maker who lives in Mt. Shasta, CA and travels around quite a bit.
Based on her own exploration of death, grief, joy and optimism, Jen offers life-affirming perspectives and practical tools to support others on their journeys. In her personal and unconventional TEDx Talk, “Death is Inevitable – Grief is Not,” she invites us to break free from the limitations and language of a grieving process and change the way we think about and respond to the death of those we love.
Jen is a founding member and organizer of the Ashland Death Cafe and the Living/Dying Alliance of Southern Oregon. As part of the Community Outreach team of the award-winning film Death Makes Life Possible, she has facilitated conversations on death, dying, and the afterlife in the US, the UK and Ireland.
Soon after my life-partner’s death, I had an experience of new awareness that transformed my life. In this audio teleseminar, I share what I learned and the daily practices that support my inner peace and wellbeing.
This recording is the final seminar of the series “Taking Care of the Caregiver,” hosted by Batiyah at Reflect, Relate, Renew. The purpose is to support you in connecting to more inner peace and joy within yourself, despite challenging external circumstances and loss.
From the recording:
“I’m often asking myself on a daily basis: Where is my energy focused? Is it on loss or connection? Is it on absence or presence? It truly is for me about the awareness first, and then the choice next. And breaking that cycle of absence.”
“Loss only exists hand in hand with disconnection or absence . . . We know the loss is real, the loss itself isn’t changing. But the experience of the loss is what we can shift.”
“How can we live in the physical world, with physical challenges and physical losses, AND still experience presence, connection and alignment to the bigger part of ourselves? And to the peace and love and joy that exists when we tap into this essence of life?”
As you listen, I invite you to discover how these perspectives and simple tools can benefit your personal journey.
I would love to hear from you! Please share your insights and input. Thanks!
When I was training with laughter yoga founder and guru, Dr. Madan Kataria, he told a story of being interviewed about how the idea of laughing for no reason came to him. He shrugged his shoulders, then matter-of-factly pointed at the sky.
“It came from Up,” he said, his Indian accent and eyes emphasizing the last word.
I could feel what he meant. It’s where most inspiration and creativity comes from . . . somewhere beyond our daily routine. Somewhere vast and bigger than we are. It’s also the place from which I prefer to live. To live from Up.
Over five years ago in 2009, I wrote my first blog post ever. The website I created at the time was called Optimystic Institute and my initial article was about the unexpected death of my dear friend Guen. Today, June 4th, had been her birthday.
Back then, my focus wasn’t death and dying. It was inner joy and optimism.
Actually, my focus still IS inner joy and optimism. But my entry point to these topics is now death and grief, rather than the other way around.
I had imagined that my response to our temporary lives had been shaped primarily by my life-partner Kate’s death in December 2011.
Then I reread this article.
My experience of Guen paved the way for my exploration of embracing death as part of life. My experience of Guen prompted many questions I continue to ask and countless conversations I continue to have about how someone’s death can inspire my own life.
These are the roots of “Seeing Death in a Different Light” . . .
I wasn’t uncomfortable with the topic itself or his bold idea that “it’s a moral obligation to die well.” I was actually quite moved by his courageous and controversial words. In fact, his ideas catalyzed my article Is Wisdom the Essence of Dying Well?
I felt uncomfortable because Thou Must Die Well seemed like a huge demand on someone who is dying.
I wanted to take the focus off of the person who is dying and put the attention onto those of us who care about them. I wanted to say “Wait! What about our obligation as loved ones? How can we ask or expect someone to ‘die well’ or ‘die wise’ if we don’t join them fully?”
Often dying well implies how someone actually dies – peacefully, painfully, aware, medicated, with regrets, ease or struggle.
But Stephen Jenkinson (aka Griefwalker), a well-known Canadian palliative care counselor, takes it a step – perhaps a giant leap – further with his new book Die Wise: A Manifesto for Sanity and Soul.
Upping the ante on an already touchy subject, his states outright that the dying have a moral obligation to die well. “Dying well is a right and a responsibility of everyone,” he writes. “It is a moral, political, and spiritual obligation each person owes their ancestors and their heirs.”
Don’t the dying have enough to deal with already?
But I admit, I’m fascinated with this idea that we humans have an obligation to die well, and more so, to die wise.
Just watching the short video trailer of the book brought many memories and questions to the surface. Both my life-partner Kate and my mom had a similar cancer, and died within a similar number of months after their diagnoses – Kate in twelve weeks, my mom in sixteen.
Yet how they brought their life’s wisdom forward was markedly different. Did either of them die well? Die wise?