Death effects us all, and therefore so does dealing with the grief. But getting from suffering the loss of a loved one to "grieving in gratitude" and celebrating life is tough. Does our modern Western approach to death and grieving interfere with the process? Can we embrace grieving in a different way? Let's talk about it this very difficult subject and wonder together.
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Vince Kern 0:03
Welcome to another episode of Friends in Wonder. I'm Vince Kern and along with co host Joe Luther, we wander together about the exciting, fun and sometimes difficult things we face in this life's adventure. We're always grateful if you like, subscribe to or share this show. And you can do so by going to friendsinwonder.com. Or send us feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org. Now, we invite you to sit back, relax, and enjoy this week's topic.
You know, when we choose our topics, we generally have them listed out in advance, but this week's topic kept popping up to Joe and myself in various ways. And we didn't really tell each other it was popping up until last week. And so we decided to tackle this tough topic today and, and share some of our personal experiences with you.
Joe Luther 1:15
Yeah, today we're talking about death and grieving. And, sadly, the reason that keeps popping up is because we've been experiencing a lot of that, personally, not just direct experience of close loved ones, but but people who are close to us who are going through similar experiences, there's just, I guess, part of the issue with living into your older years is that these kinds of things are going to happen. And you know, certainly Vince and I have lost parents. In fact, both of us have lost all of our parents. And, and that's to be expected, right? I mean, obviously, you'd like it to be as as long the life as possible. But what really drove it home, for me as a topic was when a very close friend of mine died. And, and I experienced, grieving in a way that was new and different. Because it was so unexpected. This was not part of what I had preconceived in my mind. You know, it wasn't a parent, it wasn't an 80 something year old. This was somebody who I considered a brother. And so the process of grieving was very real to me. And it still is real, even though it's been a while, I'm still going through that process. And now is, is Vince and I see more and more of this, we thought, today would be a good idea to try to tackle this topic,
Vince Kern 3:04
right? Because sooner or later, everybody's going to grieve, whether it's the loss of a loved one, even the loss of a pet brings brings up a lot of a lot of issues about loss, and we're no experts, and sooner or later everybody does become an expert. You go through this process.
Joe Luther 3:26
Yeah, I mean, it's because it's experiential. There's no right or wrong way. And we prepared ourselves for this episode, we started looking around and we saw a lot there's a lot of tools out there for people and kind of true to Western society. There's books on various stages of grieving, there's books on, you know, kind of, like the list style of, of grieving and, you know, we we wanted to ask, the question is, you know, is that good?
Vince Kern 3:58
Yeah, and you know, all any tool that helps somebody grieve should be considered a good tool. I know for me, very, I think it was when my father died, I looked up the seminal book on grieving, which is which is called on grief, grief and grieving finding the meaning of grief through the five stages of loss, which eventually was turned into seven stages of loss in a in a update by Elisabeth Ross Kubler and David Kessler. And in that book, they outline that the seven stages of grieving are shock, denial, anger, bargaining, depression, testing, and acceptance. And it became clear to me from my own personal experience that there was no clinical process. To this. In fact, the authors said that they did not intend this to be a clinical process for grieving because how do you define grieving? It's different for everybody. Everybody has a very personal experience. And yet, it kind of made me think about the fact that our culture is very clinical in terms of processing things, and are we getting away from sitting with death? And, and being with the Spirit? And, and are some of the things that we do today? interfering with our ability to, to grieve?
Joe Luther 5:32
Yeah. And, you know, again, that's not to say that these aren't valuable tools. But more than that, what we're doing is to ask the question, does it help, because when I was going through my process, like you, I, I didn't know whether I should or shouldn't be feeling something, and, you know, this idea of anger or, you know, acceptance, all of those things, like, When am I going to feel that it in my mind, it might take away from just sitting with it, and, and that's part of, you know, both the the great thing about modern society, and maybe one of the things that creates us to be separate from our feelings and from our spiritual experiences. And instead of just sitting with it and processing it, processing it ourselves. We're looking to tools, and in a way, maybe living in denial.
Vince Kern 6:45
Yeah. And one of the great teachers being in the present moment, in fact, the author of the book, The Power of Now, one of our favorite, I don't know what you'd call him, Joe, a philosopher.
Joe Luther 6:58
Yeah, I mean, Prophet, Eckhart Tolle, you want to talk about great tools on the internet to help you grieve. You know, we're fortunate that this man lives at a time when the internet and YouTube and, and podcasts and whatnot are available to record him. And we, I know, I personally turned to his work when I was grieving.
Yeah, wow, I just I love the way he approaches a topic. And in this case, you know, the topic of death in cultures being considered sacred. And in modern society, maybe our the question that he raises and the question that we're raising is, are we living in denial of it? And does that make it more difficult for us to go through the grieving process?
Vince Kern 9:05
Yeah, and you know, as as, as cultures change, and certainly in our time, we've seen all kinds of change, you know, funerals? Well into the 20th century in the United States, in Europe, they were basically done in the home and they were open to the public, rather than just for friends and family and the body would usually be displayed in the front parlor, but sometimes in the loved ones bedroom. And, you know, as news of the death spread, people came and paid their respects which contrast that to today where there's a funeral home involved, and you know, the hospitals and, and I recall very distinctly when my dad passed away being in the funeral homes office with my mother and having to choose a key Ask it and sign papers and then make this decision and make that decision. And, and it's, it's a time when, you know, you, you maybe want to be starting that personal grieving process, but you can't so so that that that made me to wonder about how our culture is treating death, and does that cause us to, to fear death. I mean, if you think about a family sitting in their home with, with their loved one for days, you know, there's certainly a big difference between that and driving back and forth to different places,
Joe Luther 10:34
right, it drives home, this idea of, you know, embracing the concept of death as sacred, versus, you know, outsourcing it as a process to be done by a third party. And we're not saying one way is right or wrong. But what we are trying to shine a light on is that, by the way we do it now. It, it may interfere with some of our ability to agree.
Vince Kern 11:06
And certainly all of those things need to be done in today's culture, you know, the funeral home services, all of the things that we just talked about. But interestingly enough, a lot of scholars in morticians are observing that a lot of people in American culture lack the explicit mourning rituals that help people deal with loss. And, you know, there's this this sort of two phase thing, I think, from my experience, which is an everybody says, you know, the hardest part is when everybody goes home after the luncheon. And so that begins the process of your real personal unobstructed thoughts,
Joe Luther 11:49
right? A modern grieving stages, almost in our society are picking out caskets, picking out places for lunch, deciding who's going to do readings, or you know, who's going to be the eulogistic, and that kind of stuff. And then suddenly, all the relatives are gone, and all the loved ones and support and in the potlucks, if you will, whatever, whatever the process is, for each individual person is, is complete. And then we're left with picking up the pieces from there. And in many ways, that's when the grieving really begins. And I know for me personally, that's how I began processing the death of my very close friend. And it was after all of the busy work, and then you're left with, okay, what do we do with stuff that still becomes a busy work process. And in fact, when I went through the process of helping wind up his estate, and, and disperse his belongings, and we even created a memorial fund for him. When all that was finally over, and there were no more to dues. That was when true reality started to set in for me
Vince Kern 15:03
Death is not the opposite of life. Birth is wow, that one, that one really defined in in a very concise way, a lot of what what we what I think about and see even on a daily basis you know I'm it's fall and people I drive around and watch the leaves falling and you know used to think oh the trees dying now the trees not dying the tree is is going into a slumber for winter rebirth, rebirth and the leaves are going into the soil and inaccurate just describe that so perfectly, that I think it's a great starting point to again, talk about personal experiences. Now I know for me, and I have been blessed, and I just want to share this with everybody I'm so grateful for spirit, and everybody has a different way of, of getting with spirit or whatever you want to call it. But I recall several times in my life where the spirit of loved ones who had been lost have visited me literally. And and I mean, I have sat one night and was listening to music and my wife Sheila was gone on a trip and and I just had my head back and my eyes closed. And the next thing I knew my dad was there playing the Oregon to the music and it was rock music, but he was playing it perfectly and, and just this feeling of smile. And I could list many, many other ones. But I wasn't at that point to receive that until I had actually sat with the grief and gone through my own very personal processing of it.
Joe Luther 16:50
Yeah, I know exactly what you mean feeling other spirits, like, through your core, is a very real and personal experience. And I'm sure that everybody you know, many people have felt that. And yeah, and then what he said about that everything is ongoing and continuing and in re birthing and reprocessing and becoming a new always stuck with me. And that's been very helpful words, because it's in a way, it's like the movie, It's a Wonderful Life, where this concept of once something is done, it can't be undone. And, you know, in that movie, this idea of going back and in, you know, I wish I had never been born or whatever it was that that caused him to see what the world would be like, without the impact of that person is, is kind of the same thing that akard is talking about. And that is once something has been done, it never dies. Once somebody has lived, he never dies. Because when you talk about the ripple effect of of any action, we all understand that that that creates a reaction, like they say the, you know, the wings of a butterfly on one side of the Earth can do something to an elephant on the other side of the Earth. It's true, it is physiologically true that these things are happening. And I'm a life, a human life that has been with us in his impacted us never really dies because those ripple effects continue for forever.
Vince Kern 18:45
I remember sitting in the hospital with my mom. And we were sitting there waiting for her to be taken to hospice. And she said something about death and it wasn't necessarily about her own. But I said I'd looked at her and I said you know mom, I said here's the way I look at it. I said there's there's a there's a physical, there's a physical loss, but everything, the energy just changes into something else. Everything just changes into a different energy. And so therefore, your your, your your energy, your spirit is always there. And she looked at me and said, Oh, that's a nice way of looking at it. And I felt I felt I felt embraced by that. But you know, we talk about these, these these being able and open enough to perceive spirit that and our ancestors that are behind walking behind us daily. And a wise woman once said to me that it's kind of like the baby in the womb when the mother and father are singing to it and talking to it. It can hear it. But it cannot physically experience their mother and their father because they're in a different place. they're there, they're in a different, completely different universe. And so, you know, I look at spirit in the same way that it's just another level of, of connection that we don't understand. And there is promise of understanding it one day, even in, in Scripture and other, other everywhere you look, there's the promise of experiencing it one day and, and if you're agnostic, that's fine too. But you know, if you think about the life experience, and if you think about the energy in that fashion, you know, there's this great thing about the ancestral mathematics, and it talks about how many people behind you in order for you to be born, you know, you need a two grandparents, four grandparents, eight grandparents, and it goes on and on and on. But, but the mathematical equation is, it says, For you to be born today from 12 previous generations, just from 12 generations, you need a total of 4094 ancestors over the last 400 years. So if you can find a way to tap into that energy, you know, that things are gonna be okay, and that they're still with you. And it's just a very real envelopment of the energy of love and gratitude for life. And yeah, I
Joe Luther 21:28
liked the I liked the analogy used with the baby in the womb, because, you know, like you said, the baby doesn't know what's going on. It's just feeling and it's feeling some outer sensation that is about love. And similarly with the ancestors. I mean, think about that, think about all when you talk about 12 generations, and then all of the math that goes to how many parents are necessary for each of those people in the generation that leads all the way down to us being alive. And I know you and I have wondered about that, because it goes far beyond 12 generations, right? I mean, we're talking about going back to the African, you know, origins, and we're all related, based in in the fact that we have those genetic and energetic experiences as part of our existence is all there to be tapped into. And that's why when somebody passes, it's very helpful for me to remember that it's only the physical form that has passed. It's not the spiritual form, because that continues, ad infinitum, infinity. And so, you know, I, I remember, when we finally, again, coming back to my close friend, in the memorial that we had for him, we did it like six weeks after his death. And then we did yet another one, at his favorite place that was kind of an ash spreading ceremony, you know, several months after that. So, and I had been able to go through a little bit of the grieving process at that point. But where we had gotten, when we were able to do the ash spreading ceremony was, instead of grieving, more celebrating, celebrating, in gratitude, the life that we had with this great person, and, you know, and that's available to all of us, because every life is sacred. And, you know, listen, that doesn't mean we jumped straight into gratitude, we've got to go through our process of, of grief. But I feel like that, that's the comfort is when you are at that spot where you can feel gratitude for what you've had, instead of a sense of loss.
Vince Kern 24:13
We know that each one of you out there listening is going to have your own unique process. And by no means are we saying that, again, we're experts on any of this. We just hope to leave you with a sense that you're not alone out there when this happens. And in a very interesting, energetic way. Your friends in wonder here in this podcast, but also your friends and wander around you will always be there for you to
Joe Luther 24:45
help. Embracing the grief and getting to gratitude is just, I think, the best we can do in tackling this topic today. And we hope in some way This was a value to those of you who are going through it or may go through it in the future. So thanks for listening