Posted in after the diagnosis, coping with chronic illness, coping with life threatening illness, living with chronic illness, Living with Illness

Lowest Common Denominators

The truth is that those who are well and those who are facing a chronic or life-threatening illness share one big secret.  We all suffer from death anxiety.  It’s interesting because the Ancient Greeks felt that to live “the good life” you had to meditate on your death.  This year Irwin Yalom came out with a book titled “Staring at the Sun”, talking about death anxiety in our culture.

Does meditating on death for those who are ill hasten the inevitable?  When we meditate our death do we speed things along when we’re in the midst of fighting for our lives?  That’s not the reality and not even what the Greeks meant when they spoke about meditating on your death.  They were truly focused on generativity, what you leave behind in this world and what you stand for while you’re still in this world.

Throughout last week’s meditation sessions we each had the opportunity to reflect not only on our lives and what our lives mean to us, but having the opportunity to get to know ourselves at the deepest levels.  Kim Rosen,, led us through an amazing array of meditations based on poetry.  She provides workshops on the transformative nature of poetry and she does this with grace and passion.

Until I went back to school I never read poetry except for those poems required in high school english.  I’ve always been a huge music lover and have found that poetry is musical.  It has a rhythm and can provide an inner melody.  Depending on who you read will determine the existential questions that are front and center.  I’m fascinated by Mary Oliver.  A poet who lives in New England and truly takes on the question, and then challenges the reader about what will each of us do with our one precious life.

Be surprised…go pick up a book of poetry and just thumb through the pages.  You’ll begin an inner dialogue that will inspire and challenge you to take a position on life and death.  It puts into words the feelings we all have in an eloquent and flowing message.

Share with me your favorite poems and poets.  Maybe we could create a resource for meditation and a dialogue about meditating on our death.


I've lived my life in service to others. I'm focused on mental health and how it impacts our relationships, culture, and society. Through creative expression and narrative I believe we can impact change.

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