Tag Archives: loss

Fear of Death

IMG_0656“Death undoes us less, sometimes, than the hope that it will never come.” Pico Iyer

I’m thinking about death because we are once again facing the reality: a friend’s child has died in a climbing accident.

My heart aches for the family of this young man. Because of social media I have been touched by a photograph of his grandparents waiting by the phone. I’ve read the comments of his friends from around the globe. I’ve communicated, personally, with the young man’s parents and siblings and know that they are struggling to cope.

I am amazed at how soon I have made this about me. My fear of a personal loss took my breath away and shoved my compassion to the side.

I quickly internalized the loss and contacted my granddaughter.  Because she is in the same age bracket and lives a similar lifestyle of wilderness adventure and physical challenge, she was immediately on my mind.  “Be careful,” I warned.

Death is a part of life. We all know this. It is a truism and a pat response to loss. It is not, however, an easy part of life. We have all faced some loss and know that in varying degrees it changes us.

Fear of death is worse, though, don’t you think?

I don’t fear my own death. I spend my fear shoving away the possibility of losing those I love the most. At times this possibility cripples me with dread.  And for what?

Did the text to my granddaughter really save her as she ventured into the woods? Did it make her more mindful? Or did it only serve to limit her joy?

And the parents of the young man – is their sorrow now more painful than their fear during their search for him? Their waiting and wondering? Will their acceptance of reality be more difficult than their imaginings?  I don’t know their answers.

However, I have lived through the death of precious family members and friends – one moment at a time. Some moments were full of pain. Some were filled with sweet memories. None were filled with fear. Death is not unbearable. It is the fear of death…

The Student


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Filed under Quotations, Self-examination

Maya Angelou, In Memoriam

Maya2“I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.” Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou’s quotations have influenced my inner dialogue for several years.  It wasn’t just that she reduced philosopy into pithy and pertinent sayings; more, it was that her conversations were homilies. Her ease and acceptance with herself and the world around her created an object lesson that was easily assimilated.

Her belief that life was a series of lessons from which we all learn helped me quiet my inner critic. She helped me comprehend that although I have made, still make, and will continue to make huge mistakes, I am not malicious or evil. I am a student of life who wants to live to my greatest spiritual potential. The rocks in the road that trip me up are those things that need my attention. They are route corrections for me to assimilate in order to keep moving forward.

I am thankful for all the gifts she has left for me to open as I am ready. Her words and her example are lasting legacies.

The Student




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Filed under More Teachers, When someone tells you who they are, believe them, When we know better, we do better

Decisions Again.

Everyone has to make their own decisions. I still believe in that. You just have to be able to accept the consequences without complaining. Grace Jones

Often I am struggling with my own decisions. This week it would be a struggle even without the perceived judgment of friends. I am on an extended stay in a foreign country. A week ago I received the news that a friend’s daughter had committed suicide.

Immediately I called my friend and followed up again within a couple of days. Based on those conversations I decided not to return home early. She and her husband were essentially in seclusion except for family. That is what they wanted. They were refusing offered food and visits.

My experience is that family gathers at such times. It is implicit (and in this case vocalized) that the desire is to be with those who most clearly understand the loss.

In talking with my friend, she was clear that her greatest desire was to invite those to the service who had known her daughter in high school, college and early in her career; those who remembered her before her troubled times. Although she wanted the attendance of our close-knit group, she understood that I was away.

There is where my questioning begins. Should I have gone home for the service? Is the celebration of life so important that I should have intuited the necessity of my attendance? My other friends seem to think so.

On one hand I continue to believe that I will be more valuable in the weeks and months to come. My continuing friendship and my attentiveness when the shock wears off and everyone else goes back to their lives will be more important than the two hours I didn’t spend with her at the graveside and the lunch after.

It’s too late to change my mind. This conundrum is only a sort of self-torture that I hope to leave behind me. After all, why spend good time after an irrevocable decision, be it good or bad?

If I can convince myself that my decision was right for me…and, if it wasn’t, then forgive myself; perhaps I will stand easily if I encounter the judgment of others.

The Student



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Filed under Quotations, Self-Acceptance Project, Self-examination, Step 4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.