Why is death so difficult?

Today is a sad day. My children have to say good-bye to their first grandparent – their father’s father. Grandpa Roe was married to his wife for more than 60 years. I just can’t comprehend how painful it must feel for her right now.

For my children, this is a new experience. Saying good-bye at this level. They were young when my mom died. Now, as adults, they are going to start experiencing the inevitable but the incomprehensible.

Why does something we know — the most certain of all the things in life — feel so difficult when it occurs? Why can’t we prepare?

A few years back, I was very sick. For almost a week I could not get off the couch. Very unusual for me. And then one day, I looked out the windows of my living room and noticed the trees moving in the wind. I closed my eyes and brought my mother back into my mind. It was as if she was there, sitting next to me. I tried to talk with her but as I opened my mouth, she was gone.

At that same moment, and I’ve no idea why, a podcast came onto my phone of an interview with Maurice Sendak on NPR (maybe I hit the app on my phone but  I must admit it was freaky). This interview was about life and death and turned out to be shortly before Sendak died and shortly after a couple of his friends had died. He was quite introspective in the interview.

The thing he hated the most about life, he said, was saying good-bye to the people he loved, “I cry a lot because I miss people.” He said. “I cry a lot because they die and I can’t stop them. They leave me and I love them more.”

Life is fragile and we grieve when someone dies because we have to say good-bye. And our memories of that person allow us to love them even more. But not only that, when someone dies, we also grieve because death brings an end to the other person’s memories of us. Those one-to-one memories that we have with that person. Know what I mean? Like, how our parents know us in a way no one else does and when they go, so do those memories they have of us as their children. Or, our spouses see elements of us that we keep hidden. When they go, so do those shared memories.

As I get to the end of this post I realize that I have nothing special or new to say about death. Death is, as it always has been, a quite certain and vivid reminder to cherish every day. I guess I just want to leave you with this:

To be remembered by another is to exist beyond the boundaries of ourself. To cease being remembered by that person is to taste our own mortality.

Sending my love to you all. XOXO

Enjoy the beauty of this interview:



“Whatever Gets You Through The Night”

There’s truth to the saying that as we get older, we get wiser. But there’s something more important than that – as we get older we (I hope) get less judgmental … about ourselves and others.

There’s no getting around getting older. Yet, by getting older I see and experience so many more cool things. I have a far greater understanding of the toll that finding fault and holding grudges take on one’s well-being and peace of mind. I understand that anger can age one more than sitting in the sun year after year. I’m more understanding of the mistakes that I and others make. I realize there is nothing, not one single thing more important than love.

Sometimes we want to erase various memories from our lives. Things we did to others or others did to us. But I don’t want to erase anything. Those things (the bad and good) make me who I am today. Why be disappointed in various experiences or people in our lives? Don’t misunderstand me here – having social discernment is critical. The journey toward becoming our best selves entails associating with people and things that reflect and strengthen our most deeply held values. We must be discerning. Yet, we must let go of judgment.

I came across a quote recently, “The most important trip you may take in life is meeting people halfway.” Henry Boye

I have to admit that I didn’t enjoy meeting people halfway for many of my “younger” years. I thought I knew the right path and assumed people would come down my road. Yet, as I get old(er) I can plainly see that my path is not the only path. Thank g-d for that!

My gift to myself this year is the gift of non-judgmental grace. That is, instead of passing judgment on others, I’m going to empathize. Rather than assuming, I’m going to listen and observe. Sure, people say things I disagree with all the time. But rather than scorn them (even if just in my mind) I am going to give them my full attention. Maybe if I can gain the trust of someone who disagrees with me, then we can meet halfway. Can you imagine how much one could learn that way? Can you imagine how different the world (and certainly our country) would be if we met each other half-way and freaking tossed all the anger?

Using the lyrics of John Lennon – someone who wanted peace and love – I leave you with his last major live performance. He’s singing with Elton John about accepting people doing what they need to do in life – without judgment. What a novel idea.

As I get older, I realize that there’s no wrong or right. Whatever decisions we make, will end up being the right ones. Do what you need to do to get through each day and night … and (try to) appreciate every moment.