Sharing Words


Everyday I meet or talk to someone that is losing something, a loved one, a job, their marriage, their independence, even their hair or vision. No matter what kind of loss it is, heavy or light, or what kind of grief is expressed, those of us on the listening end may feel compelled to offer poignant words of comfort, healing, and meaning. We can do this, if it feels right, or, we can just listen. Truth is we don't need to try too hard. Authenticity, true presence, and the willingness to sit with the discomfort of loss is the gift of holding space with someone in grief.

Not too long ago, an English poet named Michael Ashby wrote to me and shared with me his beautiful book of poetry. It's called Funeral Poems: Death, Grief and Loss Poetry. In this book, he not only shares his wonderful poetry, but the reflections and touching comments of many individuals who have found comfort in them and used them in their loved one's funeral and ceremony. The latter half of the book is a curation of poetry from several greats such as Shakespeare, Keats, and Tennyson, all weighing in on death, dying, saying goodbye and letting go. I want to thank Mr. Ashby for sharing his gifts with the world, we need words like these to remember how connected we are.

Life Goes On
by Michael Ashby

I want fireworks at my funeral
To brighten up your eyes
I want clowns at my funeral
To return all your smiles

I want dancing at my funeral
to help you move along
I want a party at my funeral
Filled with your happy throng

So, party, party, party
And cheer my spirit with song
As my last wish is you celebrate
That life goes on

To live in this world...

“to live in this world

you must be able
to do three things
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go” 

~ Mary Oliver, New and Selected Poems, Vol. 1


Yes, it's true. I can talk about death. I can even share all my secrets to finding joy, gratitude and gorgeous freedom, but I will always be afraid of death. Fear is not a condition we cure or fix, neither is death for that matter. It is something we learn to take in and squeeze out with every exhale. It is the price we pay to live. "Your own life depends on it."

We can live or we can be alive. It's the same as knowing all the truths we know about this world. Poverty, abuse, hate, pain, disease, loss and grief. We co-exist with these heartbreaks because they are a part of our human existence, the shadows we cast from all our foibles, fallacies, and mistakes.  We recover, find ways to make a difference, ways to contribute, ways to make better, ways to give back, or not. But, this is how we manage. This is how we find balance. We balance by remembering to laugh, eat cake now and then, and smile at a passerby. We don't live in big moments, we live in the small ones. Our lives depend on it. 

Being immersed in "apprenticeship" (as Francis Weller so beautifully puts) with death, dying and grief for over a year now, I have learned that the co-existence of life and death, love and loss, like any relationship, is a daily, conscious acceptance. I've been asked on several occasions, how is it I can feel and share so much joy when I place myself so close to death, sit with people who are dying, and companion others in their grief. Simply put, the closer you lean in to death, the bigger you want to live your life. Even further, the sooner we lean into our own relationship with death, the sooner we can truly begin to live our lives. Your own life might depend on talking about death.

We had our second Boulder Courageous Conversation meetup on August 3rd and I can't express enough how enlightening, educational, thoughtful, and helpful these conversations have been. I hope you can join us for the next one, Sept.12th, here in Boulder, 7-9pm. Click the link above to RSVP.


Death Doulas are growing....

Something is shifting. More and more people are being called to be at the bedside of the dying. "Why" is a common question, as well as "What do you do" and "How are you different from hospice?". This article appeared online a few days ago at Huffington Post and can help answer those questions. 

If you have questions about being a death doula, please reach out and we can point you in the right direction. If you want to learn more about our services, talk to us about death, grief, loss, please contact us or join us for Boulder Courageous Conversations. 

Courageous Conversations

“Defeat, my defeat, my deathless courage, You and I shall laugh together with the storm, And together we shall dig graves for all that die in us, and we shall stand in the sun with a will, And we shall be dangerous”

~Kahlil Gibran

These kinds of conversations take time.

All our lives we are conditioned to try to find joy, happiness, purpose, wonderment, to go out and live the best life imaginable. And when it happens, when death claims the life of someone we know or love, we are hit with the unmistakeable pain of loss and grief. In that instant, we feel the inescapable truth, the one we actively push beneath our thoughts and out of our minds. The knowledge of our impermanence and the brevity of our lives is undeniable, and even worse, unpredictable. You can stop reading here if you want. I know the discomfort rises. As I said, these kinds of conversations take time.

If you are still here reading, then maybe you have contemplated that truth. Facing the fact that we will die someday is not easy, nor welcomed. It takes a shift in consciousness, and a whole mess of courage. Some deny it till the end and that's okay, too. Fear and ego are fierce forms of self-protection. For the rest of us, we consider the choice in allowing death to permeate our thoughts and lives. We know we will not escape death, but perhaps by letting it become part of our vocabulary, we might know it better before it comes. 

I would like to introduce you to Boulder's Courageous Conversations. A gathering circle created just for those of us who want to talk about death. It's not a Death Café, though those are a great place to start, too. Courageous Conversations was started in Cleveland, Ohio by a Adaire Petrichor, a Death Doula, a Chaplain, and founder of the Heart of Dying Project. She is a pioneer in raising the awareness and discussions around death and death doula work, and I am proud to call her a new friend and mentor. Her model of Courageous Conversations in Cleveland offers workshops, film discussions, and monthly gatherings for anyone with a story to tell, or something to learn. 

If you are interested in joining us for Boulder's Courageous Conversations (formerly Full Circle Gathering), please join our Meetup group here. We already have a growing number of members. Our first meeting will be in the first week of June.

Welcome to the conversation....


New moon, new seeds...

And so we begin. No splash headlines or confetti, just a small ounce of courage to say "yes, let's do it." Endings and beginnings are the cycles we live in, bridged by the beautiful transitions that cause us to expand and contract against the containers that hold us. How can we stand so close to inescapable truths and not hang on to each other? Or, at the very least, look into each other's eyes and say "Don't be afraid, I got you."

Here's the flesh of it. We cannot survive without each other, yes this is true. But we cannot die without each other either, nor were we ever meant to. New moon, new seeds and another precious moment to make a wish just because right now, you can. Take a deep breath in--breathe in your wild, messy, unpredictable, beloved life. Then exhale, let it all go, and blow those seeds into the promise of being held by an invisible wind.

Welcome to our space. With so much love, your Death Doulas...