Speaking & Facilitation

I would be honored to speak at your event, facilitate group conversations, and/or custom design an interactive workshop for you. I am available for keynotes, conferences, and meetings, as well as one hour to full-day workshops addressing a variety of aspects of “Seeing Death in a Different Light” and reimagining grief and grieving.

Choose from these dynamic talks / workshops, which can be adapted to your audience and timeframe, or request a customized topic (scroll down for details):

  • Death is Inevitable – Grief is Not (TEDx Ashland 2019)
  • Reimagining Grief: How to Respond to Death Differently
  • Laughing Matters: What Laughter Teaches Us about Living & Dying
  • When Grief Isn’t Grief: A Closer Look at Healing from Loss
  • Where is Your Focus? How One Simple Question Transforms Grief

To talk about possibilities and schedule a speaking engagement, workshop, or facilitated conversation, call 802-318-6901 or email jmathews1123@gmail.com.

I am also available to organize film screenings and facilitated discussions of the award-winning documentary Death Makes Life Possible. This film – produced by the Institute of Noetic Sciences and the Deepak Chopra Foundation – explores scientific, cultural, and spiritual perspectives about whether consciousness continues after physical death. It is a wonderful tool for starting thought-provoking and heart-centered conversations on life, death, and the afterlife. I have shown this film to over 1,000 people across the US, as well as in the UK and Ireland.

DEATH IS INEVITABLE – GRIEF IS NOT

TEDx Ashland 2019, video forthcoming on YouTube! Please check back for the link or search the web using my name and this title and TEDx Talks. Stay tuned!

REIMAGINING GRIEF:
How to Respond to Death Differently

The more awareness and tools for wellbeing we have ahead of time, the more choices we have when responding to death. 

Contrary to popular belief, struggling with grief is not inevitable after someone we love dies. Various studies over the past fifteen years point us in the direction of tools and perspectives that contribute to emotional health and wellbeing after the death of a loved one.

In this workshop, we will consider how to go beyond the cultural idea that “grieving” is the only way through or forward. We’ll explore research findings and I’ll share my own experiences that support being more centered and resilient when death enters our lives. Which life skills can better support us as we adjust to the physical death of those we care about? What can we be aware of before someone we love dies that may make our experience more easeful and life-affirming?

Whether you’ve already navigated the deaths of many loved ones over the years, or whether you have not yet experienced a significant death in your life, I invite you to reimagine grief and what is possible.

LAUGHING MATTERS:
What Laughter Teaches Us about Living and Dying

Years ago, I had been known as one of “the laughter girls” in Mt. Shasta, CA. My life-partner Kate was the other.

Both of us were Certified Laughter Yoga Teachers, leading people in laughter classes on the east and west coasts. When Kate died in 2011, I realized how much of my response to death had been influenced by the lessons I learned from practicing “unconditional laughter.”

LAUGHING MATTERS draws upon the combination of these experiences. How can learning to laugh for no reason show us what really matters, to be more present, and to let go of our worries and judgments? And how can we apply these insights to not only life and living, but also to death and dying?

We’ll consider what holds us back from joy and playfulness, and how we can move through these limitations in order to live more fully. We’ll look at how we respond to life’s challenges, including when we are in the midst of another’s or our own dying process, or the loss and grief we may experience because of someone’s physical death.

To read an article in which I share more details about the origins of this workshop, please click HERE.

Join us as we stretch our imaginations beyond conventional views of joy and suffering, beyond humor and seriousness, and beyond the habitual patterns of our minds!

This is an experiential workshop. However, there is no need to feel happy or even be in the mood to laugh in order to attend. Come as you are. No sense of humor required. (The yoga is in our breath and inner experience of laughter, not yoga postures).

To learn more about my personal journey connecting laughter, living and dying, please go to my About page.

WHEN GRIEF ISN’T GRIEF:
A Closer Look at Healing from Loss

When grief isn’t grief, what is it?

Bring your openness and curiosity as we dive into this tender topic in an unconventional way.

Like looking at a completed puzzle, we may see grief as one solid picture. We may forget grief is actually made up of many smaller pieces: a range of feelings, thoughts, needs, beliefs, memories, expectations, regrets, hopes and more.

The WHEN GRIEF ISN’T GRIEF workshop is about dismantling the pieces of the puzzle in order to let the light shine through. It’s about taking a closer look at what we are experiencing, and about finding ways to either tend to or let go of what we discover.

Drawing upon useful tools from NVC (non-violent communication, developed my Marshall Rosenberg), we will identify various emotions and the met or unmet needs that activate them. We will then explore how the death of a loved one can bring unmet needs to the surface, and how this physical loss invites us to find new ways to meet these needs on our path of healing.

We will also take a closer look at the puzzle by becoming more aware of where our feelings, thoughts, and needs come from. Which beliefs inform how we respond to death and loss? Which ideas about grief have we decided are true? How does where we focus our attention and energy impact the pieces of the puzzle?

WHEN GRIEF ISN’T GRIEF is an experiential workshop. You’ll be invited to consider your own emotional experiences and explore your own inner world. All exercises will be optional, though encouraged. To learn more about my perspective on grief and loss, please go to audio interviews and articles.  

WHERE IS YOUR FOCUS?
How One Simple Question Transforms Grief

Perhaps the most common experience we all share when someone we care about dies is missing them.

Whether we miss someone days or decades after their death, whether we miss them often or occasionally, this experience can provoke heartache. Or it can act as a reminder to cultivate connection.

In WHERE IS YOUR FOCUS?, I share one of my most significant insights after the death of my life partner: a simple, powerful question that can help us experience more connection and less sadness, without bypassing our emotions or being in denial.

We’ll explore how this effective tool allows us to “enjoy the presence” of loved ones who have died, and connects us deeply to the spirit of who they were and are.

Neuroscience teaches us that when we repeatedly choose new thoughts, we literally rewire our brain. When these new thoughts focus on presence rather than absence, we rewire our relationship to the deceased, to ourselves, and to That Which Never Dies.

So when we are missing someone we love who died, the “missing link” is to find a link. To find any link, to find any way we can to be connected. In that moment, an antidote to loss is found.

WHERE IS YOUR FOCUS? is an experiential workshop. Although a spiritual approach will guide some of the activities, please know that a more secular perspective is welcome.

DEATH MAKES LIFE POSSIBLE (Film)
Transforming the Fear of Death into an Inspiration for Living

Death is something that most people prefer not to think about. But what if contemplating death and facing our mortality allowed us to live our lives more fully without fear and to be more present to the preciousness and beauty of life?

It is with this sense of curiosity and hope that Death Makes Life Possible approaches an often taboo topic. This documentary film follows cultural anthropologist and scientist Marilyn Schlitz, PhD, as she explores the mysteries of life and death from a variety of perspectives and world traditions. Interviews with mental health experts, cultural leaders, and scientists are interwoven with personal stories of people facing their own death as well as those who report encounters beyond death.

Featured are leading scientists, anthropologists, philosophers, spiritual teachers, and thinkers, including Deepak Chopra, Edgar Mitchell, Dean Ornish, Dean Radin, Tony Redhouse, Rupert Sheldrake, Rudy Tanzi, Luisah Teish, Jim Tucker, and others.

Death Makes Life Possible makes the case that we have much to gain by facing our fear of death and asking what death might have to offer our lives. The interviews and evidence presented are interwoven with personal stories of people facing their own death as well as those who report encounters beyond death.