Death as Teacher


Death can be your best teacher.  Death of a loved one can teach you how to live more fully.

I lost my mom eight months ago to cancer.  My vivacious, fit, non-smoking mom was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer two and half years ago.  She fought with all her might, enduring every tortuous thing her oncologist/radioligist/pulmonoligist prescribed.  We still do not know what killed her … the cancer or her treatments?  It does not matter now.  She is in a wonderful new realm.

Rather than being devastated, my life has never been more rich.  I did not expect this.  At all.

This is the email is sent out a few hours after my mom moved on:

“So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart.

Trouble no one about their religion; respect others in their view, and demand that they respect yours. Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life. Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people. Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide. Always give a word or a sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend, even a stranger, when in a lonely place. Show respect to all people and grovel to none. When you arise in the morning give thanks for the food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself. Abuse no one and nothing, for abuse turns the wise ones to fools and robs the spirit of its vision. When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way.

Sing your death song and die like a hero going home.”


My Mom, my hero, has gone Home. She was in her bedroom, … comfortable, surrounded by our love as she took her last breath at 6:40 on December 22. She left us with a soft smile on her radiant, most beautiful face. We are bereft, to say the very least. But we will live stronger and better seeing how she faced her cancer and how she died with grace and dignity. And without fear.

Her gorgeous-enormous spirit has been released from her cancer ravaged body. She is free. What joy, the many reunions in Heaven with her loved ones, and most of all, meeting Jesus!

Thank you, Mom. I do not have the words to express my deep and undying love for you. I know you know.


Buddhist monk, Koshin Paley Ellison speaks of the dying process is a lovely fashion:

“When they were dying, it was really about whether the people in their life loved them and knew that they were loved by them,” says Koshin. “So many of us are running, running, running; achieving, achieving, achieving, and then when it comes down to it, it’s really about the relationships and about loving. It’s about learning how to love yourself and the world.”

He further affirms:

“Don’t hold back from your life and don’t wait,” says Koshin. “That’s in some ways the heart of what zen is about and what living is about. Live fully in the present moment but not in the idea of the present moment… Some people think that to be present means feeling peaceful, but to be fully in the present moment could mean feeling sorrow or grief, but really experiencing it.”

I chose to fully experience every honest feeling that came my way.  Not all positive…as pain is pain and loss is loss. Wading through the murky/mucky quagmire of grief hasn’t been easy, but it has been a deeply rich, intensely loving experience.

More comforting care and inspiration can be found at:

Greetings! I am a 57-year-old rock and rolling, boogie boarding, yogini grandmother of four having the time of my life. I live, play and cavort in San Diego. Nothing brings me more joy than having my family and friends gathered around my table to share in fellowship, fun, food, and drink. My work as an ordained minister brings me joy and deep fulfillment. In short, I am one happy camper.