The other day, I called up a dear friend and colleague who has survived four near-death health emergencies in the past decade. After a little check-in, I asked him, “So how are you feeling about your mortality these days?” We both laughed at how overly direct my question was. In typical Robert fashion, he then replied, “Well, I feel I’ve been doing my part by not using toilet paper.” Then we laughed again.
Most people don’t want to talk about death. It’s not small talk, and the general attitude seems to be “why dwell on such things.” Well, dwelling is certainly not helpful, but taking an honest look is. While some people have been facing terminal diagnoses for a while, we now have a collective situation where it’s hard to ignore the possibility that death could come sooner rather than later. This little heads up doesn’t necessarily make grieving easier, but it is a gift. When we understand there may not be as much time left as we hoped, we might take the risk of being authentic.
Some masks are being put on, but it’s time to take another kind of mask off. While we’re waiting to see how many losses we’ll experience, there is time to be real. What needs to happen for you to feel at peace with the life you’ve lived? If there’s something left unsaid or undone, what a great time to either do it or forgive yourself for letting it go. Many people who know they are dying will say they wish they took more emotional risks in life. If you let yourself be seen, and then end up with a lot more time here after all, wonderful. Maybe taking those risks now will help you show up and live in a way that reflects what really matters to you. This is the paradox, the new life that comes from death. It is the clarifying nature of a disorienting transition.
Humanity as a whole and each one of us individually have come to a crossroads. Change is happening, but the bigger changes are not yet clear. We will not all continue in the same direction, but we are still here at the crossroads right now. So what do we do here?
You tell me what we do. You’re doing it right now. There are all sorts of things to do at the crossroads. Like this song by Taya Ma says, the wise woman does it all. She cries. Prays. Rants. Shakes her hips at the crossroads.
The beautiful and the tragic are all wrapped up into one, as they have always been. It’s OK to grieve. It’s OK to receive. It’s a pleasure to laugh. It’s a relief to cry. And (whisper voice) it’s pretty awesome to roar at the top of your lungs when you’re not hurting anybody at all.*
Whatever you’re thinking and feeling, I hope when you see yourself in the mirror, you look beyond appearances. Maybe send some tenderness to that very human being going through a lot of change.
With you, in it,
PS- If you or someone you love would like to talk more about things that matter to you, let’s do that. I do 1-1 sessions phone or video. Not in the middle of the night, but I can sometimes do calls without too much notice beforehand during this Co-vid time. Also, *I’m setting up a Free Release & Empower Workshop for therapists, moms, and all those providing emotional care to others right now. Let me know if you’d like to receive the invitation and video link when it’s ready.
PPS- Here’s a good article that addresses some choices to consider if you get really sick. It may be hard to read, but it’s so important. I honor you and your courage!