Live As If You Are Dying

I’m delighted to share with you a new review of The Amateur’s Guide To Death And Dying. It appears on the blog of Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Mandy Traut.

Mandy Traut

Just like the famous Tim McGraw song, I good friend of mine recently reminded me to “live like I was dying.” Many of you know that I was a recent guest on Dr. Dick’s Sex Advice: Sex Advice with an Edge (Sex Wisdom Show). Well, my association with “Dr. Dick” (AKA Dr. Richard Wagner) developed into a good friendship. I see him as a role model and mentor. So, I was quite privileged when he asked me to review his new book, “The Amateur’s Guide to Death & Dying: Enhancing the End of Life.”

Richard is, not only a renowned sexologist – Board Certified by the American College of Sexologists, The American Board of Sexology, and The American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists, he is the founder and former Executive Director of the nonprofit organization, PARADIGM; “Enhancing Life Near Death — an outreach and resource for terminally ill, chronically ill, elder and dying people.”AGDD_front cover

His book, “The Amateur’s Guide to Death & Dying: Enhancing the End of Life,” is developed to be a workbook for terminally ill patients going through the process of dying. But, the reader realizes early on that one need not be terminally ill to follow the exercises. As Richard reminds us, we all die at some point. Richard introduces the concept of “proactive dying,” referring to an attitude whereby one addresses one’s mortality head-on. Richard illustrates how honest discussions, education and preparation, and support from family and friends, can really benefit all of us. Rather than present a typical workbook with a sequence of exercises, Richard has adapted his own workshop, associated with PARADIGM INC, into written form! You, the reader, become a participant in his workshop as you explore questions of mortality, loss, sickness, and isolation. Eventually, you and your fellow participants come to see death as a part of life.

Whether going through the group process of exploring various issues, listening to presentations on preparing Estates and Advanced Directives, or discussing the stigma of talking about death and dying in the first place, the reader gets to reflect on his/her own thoughts and feelings about death and learns how to be prepared for end-of-life concerns. Richard normalizes death in the most compassionate, authentic, and empathic way. I appreciated that he, as a facilitator, found a balance between professionalism and disclosing his own personal stories, fears, hopes, and dreams to the group. Additionally, reading his book, I, not only reflected on my own fears related to death, but I strangely began to relate and befriend the other participants in the group. I felt as if I were walking the journey with them. It was humbling and moving, as well as educational and informative.

As the group workshop was coming to an end one of the participants read a poem with the theme of “live as if you are dying.” As I read (imagining myself in the room with everyone else), tears welled up in my eyes. By now, I knew the group members pretty well. I empathized with their fears, their anger, and their sense of loss. Then, I thought of my own life and relationships. Inwardly, I thought, “How often do we go through life on automatic?” It is true: Like sleep-walkers, we miss the little moments that make life precious. It takes a terminal illness or a traumatic event to wake most of us up!

In the end, I completed “The Amateur’s Guide to Dying” with several take-aways: To my readers and clients alike, I hope that you can ponder these ideas and see how they fit in your own lives.

1) It is smart to explore your end-of-life wishes while you are healthy and can make these important decisions.

2) Live as if you are dying – do not take one breath – one hug – one smile – for granted. After all, sometimes death comes when we least expect it.

3) Honor and cultivate your relationships – our relationships are at the core of a meaningful, worthwhile life.

One last word: Thank you, Richard for sharing such a fresh, revolutionary perspective with the rest of us. This is not an easy subject for most of us to swallow.

Complete Article HERE!

Vatican declares Mexican Death Saint blasphemous

A senior Vatican official has condemned the cult of Santa Muerte, or Holy Death, in Mexico as “blasphemous”.

Santa Muerte

The president of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Culture, Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, said worshipping Santa Muerte was a “degeneration of religion”.

Cardinal Ravasi spoke at a series of events for believers and non-believers in Mexico City.

The cult, which reveres death, has been growing rapidly in Mexico.

It is represented by a cloaked female skeleton clutching a scythe.

It is particularly popular in areas of Mexico that have suffered from extreme violence carried out by the country’s drug cartels.

The cult is believed to date back to colonial times.

It merges indigenous beliefs with the tradition of venerating saints introduced by Christian missionaries after the Spanish conquest of Mexico.
‘Anti-religious’

Devotees pray to the saint at home-made altars and often offer votive candles, fruit and tequila in the hope Santa Muerte will grant their wishes.

Cardinal Ravasi said the practice was “anti-religious”. “Religion celebrates life, but here you have death,” he said.

“It’s not religion just because it’s dressed up like religion; it’s a blasphemy against religion”, he said.

The cardinal also referred to the fact that the cult is particularly popular among members of Mexico’s drug cartels and accused “criminals” of invoking it.

Cardinal Ravasi said a country like Mexico, where more than 70,000 people are estimated to have been killed in drug-related violence over the past six years, had to send out a clear message to its young generation.

“The mafia, drug trafficking and organised crime don’t have a religious aspect and have nothing to do with religion, even if they use the image of Santa Muerte,” he said.

There are no reliable figures showing how many people worship Santa Muerte, but academics studying the subject say more and more Santa Muerte shrines have been popping up in Mexico and the US, where the cult is popular with Mexican immigrants.

Last year, police in northern Mexico arrested eight people in connection with the killing of two boys and a woman in ritual sacrifices which prosecutors said were linked to the cult of Santa Muerte.

Complete Article HERE!

Threshold Choir

Be sure to check them out today!

Threshold Choir

Threshold Choir
is a network of
a cappella choirs of
primarily women’s voices:

a community
whose mission is
to sing for and with
those at the thresholds of life.

Old People’s Home

Old People’s Home

W.H. Auden

All are limitory, but each has her own
nuance of damage. The elite can dress and decent themselves,
are ambulant with a single stick, adroitcouple
to read a book all through, or play the slow movements of
easy sonatas. (Yet, perhaps, their very
carnal freedom is their spirit’s bane: intelligent
of what has happened and why, they are obnoxious
to a glum beyond tears.) Then come those on wheels, the average
majority, who endure T.V. and, led by
lenient therapists, do community singing, then
the loners, muttering in limbo, and last
the terminally incompetent, as impeccable,
improvident, unspeakable as the plants
they parody. (Plants may sweat profusely but never
sully themselves.) One tie, though, unites them: all
appeared when the world, though much was awry there, was more
spacious, more comely to look at, its Old Ones
with an audience and secular station. (Then a child,
in dismay with Mamma, could refuge with Gran
to be revalued and told a story.) As of now,
we all know what to expect, but their generation
is the first to fade like this, not at home but assigned
to a numbered frequent ward, stowed out of conscience
as unpopular luggage.
As I ride the subway
to spend half-an-hour with one, I revisage
who she was in the pomp and sumpture of her hey-day,
when week-end visits were a presumptive joy,
not a good work. Am I cold to wish for a speedy
painless dormition, pray, as I know she prays,
that God or Nature will abrupt her earthly function?