To Read: How to Practice

How to Practice by Ann Patchett | The New Yorker (3/1/21)

I wanted to get rid of my possessions, because possessions stood between me and death.

"Holding hands in the parking lot, Tavia and I swore a quiet oath: we would not do this to anyone. We would not leave the contents of our lives for someone else to sort through, because who would that mythical sorter be, anyway? My stepchildren? Her niece? Neither of us had children of our own. Could we assume that our husbands would make order out of what we left behind? According to the actuarial tables, we would outlive them.

Tavia’s father died when she and I were fifty-six years old. At any other time, we might have been able to enjoy a few more years of ignoring the fact that we, too, were going to die, but thanks to the pandemic such blithe disregard was out of the question."

And:

"This was the practice: I was starting to get rid of my possessions, at least the useless ones, because possessions stood between me and death. They didn’t protect me from death, but they created a barrier in my understanding, like layers of bubble wrap, so that instead of thinking about what was coming and the beauty that was here now I was thinking about the piles of shiny trinkets I’d accumulated. I had begun the journey of digging out."

To Reflect: Grief Bombs

 
Image of a pink bomb with the text: 
"When everything seems to be okay.
Then out of nowhere the grief hits,
like a bomb exploding in your heart."

To Read: Surprise, You're Going to Be a Caregiver

Surprise, You're Going to Be a Caregiver - Part One by Aisha Adkins | The Order of the Good Death (12/12/18)

"When you first find out you’re going to become a caregiver (or slide into that caregiving role without even realizing it), you’re probably going to experience a range of emotions. Fear, anxiety, anger, frustration, honor, pride, or complete and utter cluelessness. If your loved one’s diagnosis is terminal, you may experience symptoms of grief as well.

Whatever you feel in this moment is not wrong. It’s not about the emotions themselves, but your reactions to them. In a situation where you’re inclined to focus solely on the person you’re caring for, you have to be sure to check in with yourself first. It’s like that famous airplane analogy: in an emergency situation, you have to put oxygen on yourself first before you can help anyone else. Figuring out how you feel and what you need to be okay is fine. Caring about yourself isn’t selfish."

See also: Considerations for Caregivers in Marginalized Communities by Aisha Adkins.

To Read: Nurturing Hope in Difficult Times

Nurturing Hope in Difficult Times by Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D. | The Director: Center for Loss and Life Transition (5/21/20)

"Our culture usually isn’t so good at honoring loss and supporting others who are grieving, even though they are essential parts of our lives. 

Instead, to our detriment, we tend to focus almost exclusively on the happy and the distracting and the fun. It’s a question of balance. We need both, you see. We need to honor the light and the dark, the happy and the sad –and everything in between – because all of it belongs. All of it is authentic. And whatever is authentic is normal and necessary. "

To Watch: Death Doula Jane Whitlock on Bucket Lists

 Wondering About Bucket Lists? The Eden Alternative — with Death Doula Jane.

"Jane Whitlock, End of Life Doula and Death Educator comes to you today to invite you to be curious with her about the role of a bucket list in preparing for end of life."

Find out more about Jane Whitlock's work on her website at http://www.deathdoulajane.com/.

To Reflect: Fill the Gap

 

Tweet by @TorrensJonathan with text:
 "My dad died when I was 8. Every week a few of the dads on my hockey team would offer to tie my skates. Not in a big showy way, in a quiet kind way. They filled the gap. Find a way to fill the gap for someone. It'll make you both better."

To Read: Elizabeth Gilbert on Love, Loss, and How to Move Through Grief

Elizabeth Gilbert on Love, Loss, and How to Move Through Grief as Grief Moves Through You by Maria /Popova | Brain Pickings (10/17/18)

"How to move through this barely survivable experience is what author and altogether glorious human being Elizabeth Gilbert examines with uncommon insight and tenderness of heart in her conversation with TED curator Chris Anderson on the inaugural episode of the TED Interviews podcast.
'Grief… happens upon you, it’s bigger than you. There is a humility that you have to step into, where you surrender to being moved through the landscape of grief by grief itself. And it has its own timeframe, it has its own itinerary with you, it has its own power over you, and it will come when it comes. And when it comes, it’s a bow-down. It’s a carve-out. And it comes when it wants to, and it carves you out — it comes in the middle of the night, comes in the middle of the day, comes in the middle of a meeting, comes in the middle of a meal. It arrives — it’s this tremendously forceful arrival and it cannot be resisted without you suffering more… The posture that you take is you hit your knees in absolute humility and you let it rock you until it is done with you. And it will be done with you, eventually. And when it is done, it will leave. But to stiffen, to resist, and to fight it is to hurt yourself.'"