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11 years later — a true story about consequences of loss

5 Sep

I am back from Germany and had a great time. The biggest blessing i experienced in Berlin was community, and the greatest gift i received was the support of a very capable friend who offered to help me and my four siblings sell my mother’s house which has been empty for many years. We siblings have dragged our feet—my sister local to the house who was my mother’s caretaker and is the main heir has been too emotional, and those of us far away did not feel in charge, as we are only secondary heirs. But after years, even from the distance across the globe, i have become upset about the situation. It feels disrespectful to my mother’s memory to not deal with the estate (the house has been neglected and is in disrepair). So, when i set off to go to Germany, facilitating a settling of my mother’s estate was my major objective, next to spending quality time with my 5 year old niece Stella, my sister Anne, and some other people close to my heart.

I tell you about this not to cast blame on anyone but to share a story of loss and its consequences. Underneath my sister’s procrastination (the house was left to her) was an overwhelming sense of loss with which she was left more or less alone. It may be that my family’s situation is particularly extreme as we siblings have dispersed in all winds, living on three continents, in time zones so different that talking to each other on the phone regularly is almost impossible. But i know that my sister’s pain and isolation is not an uncommon occurrence. Major losses are super tough challenges. And it does not matter much whether it is the loss of a parent, a friend, a partner, a close family member (including pets), or the the loss of one’s long-term relationship, one’s health, or one’s youth. The shock of death and separation, the scariness of major health problems, and the depressing cultural implications of dwindling youth are not only hard to face—we are usually not prepared for them and most have no support structures to help. When this loss is the death of a loved one there might be a lot of sympathy, but there is usually little capacity to be in the presence of grief. When the loss is that of one’s youth, often there is not even sympathy.

For the last two years i have been offering Midlife Alchemy. My intention with it has always been to offer a structure that provides the space to reflect, process, and find support in times of loss, impending loss, or during a major redefining of one’s self. I want to fill the cultural gap around loss and offer a place that encourages authenticity and trust, inspires self-reflection and sharing, and becomes a place for emotional healing and transformation. With Midlife Alchemy I am offering the kind of space and support here that i wish my sister would have in Germany.

Midlife Alchemy is not just about loss. It is about embracing what is and connecting with your inner strength in the face of what life presents you. It is about reconnecting with your true nature so that you can gracefully unfold and be the beautiful being you came into this life to be.

A new in-person Midlife Alchemy group in the Bay Area is forming this month. We will meet on Thursday evenings. You can find more information at http://evaruland.com/MidlifeAlchemy. Please don’t hesitate connecting with me if you are interested but have any questions.

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What really matters

12 Apr

The last few weeks have been intense for me. Death was around me, not in my innermost circle, but close enough to affect me. And, just removed enough to not be drawn into the paralysis of inconsolable loss.

6thVisionTrees

This is how my last weeks have been:

On March 1st, a dear friend of my husband died of cancer, after years of battling it. We were as well prepared for this as one can be. And he died well, in his home. But nobody was prepared for what came next. Within the week, the husband of one of my dearest friends was run over by a car while bicycling up to Tilden Park. He was left in critical condition by the roadside by a driver who fled the scene without calling for help. Luckily, a passerby called 911 and he was brought into the ICU in time so that eventually he will recover without lasting impediments. He is still on the mend and was just released to go home. What a relief! But, life had more in stock. Just after feeling the tremendous relief of knowing that he would be alright, i got an email from another dear girlfriend saying that one of her best friends was dying of cancer. My friend, who was still in South America on a year-long sabbatical, decided to come home early to be with her friend. And yesterday it was my turn to be of support to her when she returned from her friend’s death bed.

In between the accident and the last death, i drove down to Pacific Grove and spent three days by the ocean in beautiful Asilomar with 200 women — coaches and healer solo-preneurs. My intention was to learn about marketing, about how to reach more people with my work in order to have a greater impact, help more people, and have greater ‘job” security. I heard a lot of talk about finding my target audience, my niche, about giving talks, and about having enrollment conversations. But my heart was not in it.

What stuck with me, as i realized last night, is this momentous lesson of life: that death can be just minutes away at any given moment. This lesson was to bring me in touch with how precious and how fragile life is.

Appreciating my life and that of the people i love and care for is one thing. Making friends with the idea of death is another. My friend and i talked about our own deaths and how we hope the circumstances for it would be. Dying in peace and in a respectful environment is important to both of us. To me, my own death will be my ultimate initiation. It will be the most paramount act of surrendering. As i see it, at birth we are thrown into life in a cathartic way. We grow up becoming more and more attached to certain ways we think of ourselves (as intelligent, pretty, gentle, strong, successful, weak — you name it) and to things and situations, with comfort and security playing a big role. At the same time, we grow less curious, adventurous, and willing to take risks. We shut out the thought of death because it is the antithesis of the security we try to create for ourselves. But, in the end, death will destroy all our attachments. It seems to me that being more adventurous, more courageous, and more authentic, is not only a good way of experiencing life more fully; it is also a good way to prepare for death.

If you are struggling with taking risks or stepping outside of habitual patterns and expectations that don’t serve you, or feel that your soul’s yearning has been neglected for too long, contact me to explore how i can help you step more into your true nature and get the soul-nurturing you need. It might just be the time to let go of the “I should” and replace it with a clear “I will” that expresses your commitment to yourself.

Please forward the link to this article on to friends and family to inspire others to include the reality of death in their attitude toward life. And, if you feel called to share your thoughts about life and death, use the comment function to engage with me and others. I look forward to reading your comments.

© Eva Ruland, April 2014