Monthly musing from Rebecca Crichton

I recently spent two days attending gatherings that explored the many facets related to end-of-life issues. In Washington, we are fortunate to have an expanded spectrum of choices provided by the Death with Dignity Act, celebrating its 10th birthday this year. While death is certainly the ultimate letting go, I find myself increasingly in conversations about this layered topic. Some relate to what do to with our "stuff" as we downsize. Some are about the limitations of what we can do and where we can do it. Others are about changed relationships -- deaths of those we are close to, friends moving away, the desire to, and challenges of, making new friends. It is easy to see our lives through the lenses of grief and loss, and it is important to be willing to recognize when we are grieving, to understand our own grief process, and find support and tools for dealing with it. Unaddressed losses tend to layer on each other -- think geologic strata -- and we might find that a recent "minor" loss can unleash unexpected feelings of sadness and depression. One proven strategy for dealing with loss and change is to consider in what ways we feel thankful for whatever has been. Stories told about someone who has died usually include funny and endearing tales that bring back the essence of the person. We feel thankful for having known them and for what we have learned from them. The same can be true for what we decide to let go of. In what way did those things enhance our lives? What stories and memories are in the things we used, the papers we saved, the spaces we lived in? Perhaps, along with asking Marie Kondo's question from her Tidying Up process about whether something still "inspires joy," you might consider another kind of inquiry. Explore the role something played in your life, how you got it, who might have been part of your experience of it. Then, after honoring it, it might be easier to say, Thank you and Good-bye. These might well be two of the most important phrases we can use as we face change in our lives. Thank you for sharing these musings with me. Good-bye until next month.

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