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Thread: Is natural death the only way out? — On the topic of death

  1. #221 Reframing Our Relationship to That We Don't Control — from On Being 
    MS. KRISTA TIPPETT, HOST: “Let death be what takes us,” Dr. B.J. Miller has written, “not a lack of imagination.” As a palliative care physician, he brings a design sensibility to the matter of living until we die. And he’s largely redesigned his own physical presence after an accident at college left him without both of his legs and part of one arm. B.J. Miller’s wisdom extends to how we can all reframe our relationship to our imperfect bodies and all that we don’t control.

    There’s a big difference between things that happen to you, that are forces larger than you. I can yield to Mother Nature. I can yield to 11,000 volts. That’s a very different prospect than is shutting down your imagination or rolling over altogether. So there’s a challenge to our sense of proportionality in all this, and I’ve loved that theme. That word “proportionality” comes up for me a lot, trying to right-size myself.
    MS. TIPPETT: B.J. Miller is the executive director of the Zen Hospice Project in San Francisco, and he’s an assistant clinical professor of medicine at University of California San Francisco. A self-described “suburban boy,” he moved all over the U.S. growing up with his family until he attended Princeton. And there, the accident that nearly killed him set him on a path to medicine, but first to studying art.
    Reframing Our Relationship to That We Don't Control — from On Being

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  2. #222 What Are You So Afraid Of? — the words of Max Igan 2021 

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  3. #223 How to Spiritually Prepare for the Loss of a Loved One — by Kara Reynolds 
    Losing someone you love is never easy, no matter how it happens. While sudden deaths and losses can be overwhelming, you may find yourself overwhelmed even when you have the time and space to prepare for the loss of a loved one. People plan for death and experience it in all different ways, and whether you’re the primary caregiver for your loved one or you’re one of the people in their support system, you can strike a balance between bringing them the care they need and spiritually preparing for what your process will be to grieve their loss. Usually, the two will be intrinsically related.

    Everyone processes loss differently, and while death is nothing to be afraid of — as it’s a part of life — it can be difficult to navigate, especially if you’re close to the person who is passing away. No matter your belief system and your proximity to the situation, preparing spiritually for the loss of a loved one is often the best way to go about things, as waiting until after they’re gone to take care of your needs can sometimes lead to additional distress. Here are a few ways you can prepare for the loss of a loved one.

    1. Listen to Their Wishes
    How to Spiritually Prepare for the Loss of a Loved One — by Kara Reynolds

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  4. #224 The Tragedy & Liberation of Death — by Leo Babauta 
    The Tragedy & Liberation of Death — by Leo Babauta

    Last week, my brother was hit by an unimaginable tragedy: he lost his 3-month-old baby Tyler.

    I’m still in shock and heartbreak, coming to terms with it. My heart is broken for him, for all of our family, and for this terrible loss.

    I didn’t know Tyler, but as I begin to process this loss, I start to feel the loss of the future we won’t get to have together. Playing together, reading to him, riding bikes, throwing a ball around, having uncle-nephew talks out in nature. Celebrating his victories and his life. I mourn the nephew I didn’t get to have.

    And of course, it makes me appreciate the nephews and neices I do have. I’ve been thinking of all of them, grateful that I’ve gotten so many good moments with all of them. Tyler will be in my heart each time I get the gift of another moment with a loved one.

    This sudden loss has gotten me to face my own death this week. I know it is coming, just not when. I rarely think about it, because life is so in-my-face, but it’s there, waiting. Tyler’s death is such a stark reminder that we never know how much time we have left.

    I’ve been contemplating this quote from a revered Zen teacher:

    "From the perspective of many wisdom traditions death is seen as the ultimate moment for the complete liberation of the mind from all entanglements, all sorrows and all separateness." ~Joan Halifax

    And there is something liberating about this for me.

    When I die, I will no longer imagine myself as separate from the world.

    I will no longer imagine that I’m somehow inadequate. Nor worry about all the fears that come from that idea of inadequacy.

    At the moment of death, I will suddenly no longer try to control others, or burden myself with my judgments of others.

    This is indisputable. And if it’s true … why can’t I just let go of those things right now? Why waste time with trying to control or judge others, with worrying about whether I’m inadequate, with insisting on my separation from everything else? It all takes so much energy.

    Why not just free myself of these things today, instead of waiting for the moment of death?

    When I’ve been contemplating death this week … this liberation has actually happened for me.

    What a moment of complete freedom and joyfulness!

    Thank you Tyler. I love you and will hold you in my heart.


    Leo Babauta
    Zen Habits

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  5. #225 ‘Death Doulas’ Provide Aid at the End of Life — by Abby Ellin 
    As parents of a child with a progressive and potentially fatal illness, Maryanne and Nick O’Hara lived on hope. Hope that their daughter, Caitlin, who was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at age 2, would prove the statistics wrong and live longer than the 46 years expected. Hope that she would receive the lung transplant she spent two and a half years waiting for in her early 30s. Hope that her body wouldn’t reject it.

    That hope faded on Dec. 20, 2016, when Caitlin O’Hara died of a brain bleed at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, two days post-transplant. She was 33.

    Shattered, her mother decided to try to give meaning to her grief. And so she signed up for a certificate program at the University of Vermont’s Larner College of Medicine to become an end-of-life doula, or “death doula,” working with individuals and families as they moved from this life into whatever is next. (The terms “end-of-life doula” and “death doula” are used interchangeably, though some find the latter a little too blunt.)

    “In our culture, we go overboard preparing for birth, but ‘hope for the best’ at the end of life,” said Ms. O’Hara, 62, who lives in Boston and Ashland, Mass., and is the author of “Little Matches: A Memoir of Grief and Light,” published in April. “The training was really a way of going even deeper into my own grief and realizing how I could take my own experience and help other people have a better end of life.

    “I saw for myself how horrifying it is during a medical crisis and then after a death, to realize that life keeps going and needs attending to,” she continued. “As soon as Caitlin passed, suddenly it’s over and the person is gone and you have to deal with the business of living. A good doula will support you with that.”
    ‘Death Doulas’ Provide Aid at the End of Life — by Abby Ellin

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  6. #226 The Valley of the Cheese of the Dead — by Molly Mcdonough 
    In this remote Swiss town, residents spent a lifetime aging a wheel for their own funeral.

    Imagine setting aside a wheel of cheese at your wedding. What would it look like if it were served at your funeral?

    If you were lucky, it would look like one of the wheels in Jean-Jacques Zufferey’s basement in Grimentz, Switzerland: shriveled and brown, pockmarked from decades of mite and mouse nibbles, and hard as a rock. You’d need an axe to slice it open and strong booze to wash it down. This is the rare cheese you don’t want to cut into when it’s aged to perfection. A fossilized funeral cheese means you lived a long life.
    The Valley of the Cheese of the Dead — by Molly Mcdonough

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  7. #227 2 Simple Ways to Release Grief — by Cynthia Li 
    In the spring of 2013, during my decade+ journey with chronic fatigue and vertigo, I stumbled across the work of Francis Weller, a grief therapist and self-described “soul activist,” who facilitated daylong grief workshops. Though wrestling in the muddy realm of the soul with strangers was hardly how I wanted to spend one of my weekends, I imagined there were invisible, inaccessible stresses I had to contend with. Stresses that made me unpleasantly reactive instead of thoughtfully responsive. Stresses that kept me in a fearful state rather than a healing one. What is chronic fatigue, anyway, but a pseudo-perpetual state of PTSD in the body?

    In functional medicine, we look at diseases of the body (and larger ecosystems) at their root causes. The primary drivers of disease fall into 5 categories: infections, allergens, pollutants, inflammatory foods, and stress. Grief is a large driver of chronic inflammation. And chronic inflammation drives chronic disease.

    The time felt ripe for a major “soul detox.”

    Back to the Future
    2 Simple Ways to Release Grief — by Cynthia Li

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