How Focusing on the Present Transforms Loss (Audio)

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.

Photo credit: © Jennifer Mathews 2015

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!

Living and Dying with Passion

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” . . .

What We Owe Those Who Are Dying

When I watched the video trailer for the new book Die Wise: A Manifesto for Sanity and Soul by Stephen Jenkinson (aka Griefwalker), I admit I felt a bit uncomfortable.

Photo credit: © Stephen Jenkinson “Die Wise” video trailer

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?”

But how can we join others in dying well?

Do You Still Carry Your Childhood Beliefs about Death?

As a child growing up Catholic in the 1970’s, I was taught to face my own death every night. I doubt that was the intention of the simple bedtime prayer I said from age three until my early teens. But that was the effect.

Photo credit:

I imagine the prayer is familiar to some of you:

Now I lay me down to sleep
I pray the Lord my soul to keep
and if I die before I wake
I pray the Lord my soul to take

This little rhyme put the idea of a “soul” or spirit into my awareness. The underlying assumption was that I, or my soul, somehow continued on even after death.

The prayer also offered me a taste of what it must be like to die. It must be similar to falling asleep, and never waking up again. I often wondered what that would feel like, and imagined falling asleep forever. And other questions popped up, too.

Where would I go? What about my soul? If Jesus or God “took it,” where would they take it?

Oddly, the possibility of dying in my sleep felt very real because of this seemingly innocent prayer. So I repeated it every night, without fail, just to be safe. I wasn’t necessarily afraid of dying. Then again, I wasn’t afraid of rain either. But I was told if I carried an umbrella, it might keep the rain away. And the adults seems to prefer that it didn’t rain.

So I carried my umbrella – and my beliefs – like they did.