Gail's Blog

Death Rides On Your Shoulder

I receive many emails and comments about my blog.  With the political conditions and the polarization going on in

Life itself is the gift!  Live wisely

Life itself is the gift! Live wisely

America, actually the world, we seem to forget our humanity and our own fragility.  The anger and nastiness gets the headlines as does the negative news.  “Dirty laundry” sells.  People read hidden messages in neutral messages.  People need to be right.  There is a righteous indignation movement.  Those who feel powerless exercise bizarre psuedo forms of power.  It’s all enough to send you to the couch with smelling salts.  The old days are never coming back nor is my smooth skin of my youth.  Time has moved on, people have moved on and time waits for nobody.  We either change or be changed.  Right now many people hate the idea of change.  Time will not wait for them.  They will be waved to at the rear window of the bus.  Those who will embrace change and are willing to let go of outworn ideas and habits will blossom and grow and stay relevant.

This is not to say there aren’t many things that need to be corrected.  Almost all of our systems from the government on down to our own dirty laundry need change.  It’s a duel of the powerful.  Time will not wait for foolish leaders either.  As the book “Ethan Fromm” tells, “the wheels grind slowly (meaning the grist mill) but they grind exceedingly small”.  It is wise to remember not to loose your humanity as you loose your temper and become self-righteous.  Some of the pieces of mail I receive are downright nasty and personal.  Some of them are written by “spiritual” people or those who profess their spirituality and they attend new age congregations.  Perhaps, they have time on their hands or their feel really powerless and afraid and act out.  Perhaps, they should go for a walk, while they can.

Which brings me to the idea of “death rides on your shoulder”.  We take for granted the idea that we will live and keep going and that we will get some type of notice that our death is eminent.  We think more about our mortgage payments, what time is dinner and what will we eat, what will I pack for the trip, what time do I pick up the kids, the latest app, the latest release by Netflix.  You get the picture.  Do we think that we could exit out of here tonight, tomorrow, maybe in an hour?  Did you know that death is your invisible companion and will decide when you will leave?

Just in the last month a friend’s sister became suddenly ill and died quickly within a week.  The week before she was a masseuse and giving her sister a massage.  My son’s Mother-in-law dropped dead in her living room from a cerebral hemorrhage.  Another found her daughter dead in her bed from the same condition.  She was only 40 and never ill.  I have a long list of sudden deaths.  We don’t know when we will leave so why do we waste our lives on dumb stuff that really is not important to us or even worse can harm others.  Have we forgiven those we need to forgive?  Can we clean up our lives so we are prepared for our own exit?  Death may give you a notice by illness or declining old age but you may not be given such a notice.  Please do not be so nonchalant about your own life.  Treasure your time here.  Smell the roses and speak kindly to strangers.  Leave your anger, your hurts and your righteousness along the side of the road.  We are all in this place together and each one carries death on our shoulders.  We need to prepare to join it one day and we need to be less afraid of it.  We can do that by knowing we led the best life we could and we grew and we forgave and we became kinder and we gave up the need to be right.

10 responses to “Death Rides On Your Shoulder”

  1. Hi Karen,

    Thank you for offering the Death Cafe salons. What a good idea. We can share our experiencing and fears. We need to realize that each day could be a last day here. Understanding the death process of the physical body and an awareness of other planes of consciousness, can help to calm the fear of dying. We need to connect with the other world through a special type of meditation –while we are living. In that way when we find ourselves not here on earth, we have a deeper understanding of what it was about.

  2. More than three years ago now, I brought the Death Cafes to San Diego where I live. Talking about death so that you realize and welcome that death rides on your shoulder all the time is a really good way to live. Death Cafes are for the purpose of discussion and breathing life into death. Gail you hit the nail on the head. With all this cacophony of chaos and change going on knowing that this life cycle ends in death has me living each day with an awareness of doing so to the fullest of my ability that particular day. Thank you for this post.

  3. Karen says:

    My mother passed suddenly from a cerebral hemorrhage. My father was 10 years older and had one surgery after another always just escaping the fine line between life and death. I think he pushed through for her but still always announced how he would die before her, and then poof she was gone in an instant. He couldn’t wait to join her, talked about it all the time with anticipation and how happy he would be to be with her again, but he had to wait 13 months. She died at Thanksgiving and he at Christmas. We have our two major holidays covered. I’ve also heard of 2 people who died suddenly last week who were in their mid 40’s, early 50’s. My father always said people like to say if I die, and it’s never if, it’s only when. I count my blessings every day no mater what is going on around me. Well said Gail. Much love.

  4. Debbie says:

    Nice Blog !

  5. Jan says:

    Change – some is good, some not so good. Focusing on the positive is good advice. It’s important to be discerning and not just go along with the crowd because it’s fashionable or easier.

  6. Sharon says:

    My favorite book on unexpected passings (dying) is The Afterlife of Billy Fingers, a true story written by his sister, Annie Kagan. I highly recommend it.

  7. Andrea Gold says:

    Great point, Gail! I love how you prioritize “Life.” People do forget what’s important, as it’s easy to get caught up in the details. We don’t know when it will be our time to check out. So, first, focus on your purpose. Then do it. And factor in as much enjoyment in the process as possible. Go! Do! The clock is ticking!

  8. Jan Peppler says:

    Gail, thank you for weathering the storm of negativity and continuing to bring us insightful posts. You are loved! xo Jan

  9. Social Media (email, FB, Twitter) has become the new avenue by which to bully someone. It seems like not having to say soothing to someone’s face gives us the permission to be rude and nasty. Who was it who said to ask oneself, Is it kind, is it true, is it necessary, before saying something to someone. I have a minister friend who has recently received repeated emails from someone who is unhappy and not in agreement with the Sunday messages. Really? Someone has THAT kind of time on his or her hands? Life is too short, especially for those of us on the “sunny” side of 60, to be grousing about somebody else whose opinion we don’t like. Looking for and finding the Good in ALL things, enjoying the friends and family/extended family we are so lucky to have in our lives, and being grateful for everything we have–and don’t have–is a more enjoyable way to live one’s life.

  10. Laurie Donohoo Pollack says:

    Thank you!
    I have been trying to figure out why so many people I know between the ages of 38 and 40 have passed away. They also were in their beds.

    This past week I lost two friends instantly. One was on her way to diaylisis. She died in the van five minutes away from home. The other was back in the nursing home. Seventeen minutes after she got there she was dead. We are so shocked. Thank you!

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