Category: Loss & Grief

A Hunger for Joy — Lorca’s TEDx

This has been a long time coming -- when what needs to be talked of is a stronger voice than that of discomfort.  There is a special kind of work that occurs at the intersection of courage and vulnerability.  I arrived at that place here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bA4s-0D9AK8 Lorca Smetana found herself a survivor in the aftershock of one of the worst climbing accidents in the history of this country. For 33 years, she has been giving herself to resilience and compassion – adding light in every direction. And the daily return arrives in gift after gift of joy. Lorca Smetana is fiercely for

Would you like to hear the eulogy at your own funeral?

"And you would be...?" Good morning, dearests. Would you like to hear the eulogy at your own funeral?  I think I just did.  I had a rare human experience.  Think back to attending the funeral of someone you loved and admired, and sitting there awash in pain and love and laughter as person after person stood up to share a story, express love, talk about how she or he helped them in ways large and small to grow and heal and build things and moments that felt important?  And at some point, do you remember a small hope that when it comes your time to die,

How we _really_ honor those we’ve lost

With our lives. Aimlessness and loss compound each other. Perhaps you're lying in bed at night worrying about tomorrow or next week, wishing you could sleep instead of worry. Or you wonder when you stopped loving exactly who you are - lit up by your dreams and desires for your life and the world - and you want to find YOU again (and you don't know how to get there from here.)   Or maybe there's a longing to be inspired in your career and you can't see what there is to be done.  Your life is feeling more bound by the impossible than the possible.  Your life isn't serving

Fighting terrorism from where you are

Dear ones, this morning I, too, am torn, deeply sad and sorry and worried, reaching out to friends to know they're safe, aware of refugees without power or defense.   How do I live, what do I do today, half a world away? When we are committed to being sustainable human beings, we recognize right away that events like these in Paris fall squarely in the area of outflow from our own resources as grief and uncertainty take their toll. They need, each time, to be balanced as we determinedly refill ourselves to our full forces so that we can face every hard and beautiful thing that

Radical Awakeness: Living Among Animals

Spoken to the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Bozeman for the Blessing of the Animals... I was invited to share today in part because my life and my work has become embedded in so very many animals.  Our river farm is and has been home to homing pigeons, white doves, Icelandic sheep, pigs, dogs, chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, honeybees, rabbits.  It is also home to great horned owls who called as I wrote this, nesting kestrels and red-tailed hawks, eagles, magpies and snipe, woodpeckers and Eastern kingbirds, snakes and mice, porcupine, foxes, coyotes, raccoons, trout, turtles and whitefish, and the occasional moose, bear

Taking PTSD under the pavilion

The gift of inland islands... Three months ago post-traumatic stress came to walk beside me again, after many years gone. Random panic attacks and loss of breath that came with me out to visit the sheep or had me veering my truck to the side of the road, nightmares that chased me out of my bed, and a demoralizing paralysis in writing as if the two occupied the same synapses in my brain and couldn't coexist. A year into returning to my story of trauma in writing the book I had been surprised at and congratulating myself on my own steadiness in the

The Pain-Bearers

Sometimes I think I have come into this life as one of the pain-bearers — not one who takes all pain onto herself, nor one who takes it from others, but who has the capacity to be with the pain of loss, of death.  We are needed in this world because so many cannot.  On days like today from the outside it seems I have created a life that invites it — a call because of a lost seven year-old son, and another for the mother of a five year-old girl.  I will take these and along with white birds, with

Adventures in “Deathbed” Conversations

A story and an invitation and a challenge.  The story is here in this short Pecha Kucha video. This was about people playing with courage... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Th9KqjiXSL8 So the invitation and challenge is a game, an experiment I play, composed around freedom and courage and the awareness of mortality. The project had its roots in the letter writing workshops that I led over years.  I taught people to be more open and fun and colorful in the letters that they put into the mail, but I also started inviting people to write the amazing letters, the life-changers, the kind that are powerful in the lives of

This I believe.

We are all together on this ship and some of us will die sooner.  Some young.  I will grieve again, and comfort.  It may be me.  Those of us who are lucky will know ahead of time and not be incapacitated by pain and exhaustion and messes we have not cleaned up.  If we are luckier this heightened awareness that is the gift of death may be seized  by us periodically and good and great things and moments will be brought into the world as a result. What do I want to have been in my life with my mothers?  my

Where gracefulness matters and where it doesn’t.

Gracefulness is important to me.  I love to feel graceful, be seen as graceful, move through our days together with grace.  Handle the difficult things in life gracefully. But this is where I want to be clear.  I am not asking that my engagement with my own particular demons be clean.  That I stay fully functional and productive while in the midst of it.  I am not asking that it be without mess, that it have dignity, that it display only admirable qualities, or even that it be without ugliness or pain.  I can be in pain.  It is part of