Passages of Life

Updated: Nov 14, 2021

When it comes to the passages of life, we do one of two things. We either dress them up into magical apparel or simply keep them hush. We either talk aggressively about conquering age, death, or what-have-you or take the more popular step and color all the gray. This is true with relationships, illnesses, and, yes, the last breath. Passages of life is a forum for the brave who want to talk about change, those we like and those we don't. Here, you'll not only network with people of like-minded interest on relevant topics, but also learn of opportunities to further your learning with meaningful connections. Everything from this blog to webinars to events are available to soften even a little some of those brutal landings we fear, reduce the element of surprise that comes especially in the later phases of life (trust me!), and create a more peaceful rending of life when we breathe our last breath.

These little snippets are free. It is a way of you getting to know who I am and how I hold story both in my life and in my work. When someone is shopping for a professional, they look for safety, a warm voice, someone that will hold their story with great respect and compassion, like a midwife, really. By sharing these short posts, you will get a feel for who is actually behind the name, the thought, and the work. While it doesn't take the place of meeting me in person, I hope it will give you some familiarity to decide.

Content matters, though. Those things that we see happening with others out there: People growing ill and losing that vibrancy that fueled their many steps, men and women discovering that their bodies have an irreversible condition that will place a part in their demise, and young and old entering a nursing facility they swore they wouldn't enter into to live their remaining days. A sobering path, for sure. And then there is everything in between that we face as we travel: decisions about where to live, how to handle our relationships, confusion about careers--starting one or changing to another--becoming 50 and the "now what," and more. These posts might have a grain of inspiration as you travel what seems at times to be muddy waters.

So we begin with the passages of life. Since this is the first post, I'd like to share a little about my work. I began life in a way with a big Big Bang. I lost my first child, Elizabeth. Never saw it coming...I was a bit naive about lots of things. But it happened. The next thing I knew in my novice minister apparel, I conducted my daughter's funeral. This happened years ago, but it would be a Segway into what I'd be doing for a living.

After much training as a chaplain, over two-and-a-half- years worth of working with everything you can imagine, I landed a spot in hospice. The next fifteen-years of my life, I worked with children, younger adults, those in midlife, and the elderly. As you can imagine, it changed how I would see the world even when off the clock.

Eventually, I threw in the idea of serving in the military. It was easy, the Reserves. Until, that is, on one October of 2002, I was told by my commander that I would be going to Afghanistan. And before you know it, this chaplain was in uniform and flying some 12,000 miles away from what felt safe. I was back some six-months later.

As chaplain, I did not have to fire a weapon. My job was to counsel the troop and, yes, bury a few. When I returned, I did a couple of CACO calls and funerals here in Georgia. And then I returned to hospice and after earning another master's degree in counseling, I opened up my private practice. You can read about my work and experiences in Spiritual Care to Elderly and Dying Loved Ones, Conversing with Death, and Last Breath Awareness.

You probably have an idea why I focus much of my work on the passages of life. I've seen decline in action even among the young. I watched thousands of times how fragile our bodies and minds are, in spite of those egotistical minds who believe they can conquer aging and dying.

But I stand alone, so it feels. Talking about death is not popular, which is why I want to do things like this blog and provide avenues for people to talk about their fears. Almost a decade has gone by since I founded Conversing with Death, and I can tell you with much certainty that people do want to talk about how they think they might die, how afraid or not afraid they are about breathing the last breath, and the challenges they encounter as the body changes.

This blog is in honor of those I served years ago. They are still my teachers. And I hope to honor your struggles as you try to make peace with the changes of life, be it a change in career, a more achy body, the saggy skin, or the heightened awareness on the brevity of life.

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