The Cook Awakening

Your Year to Live Again!

December 12, 2016
Posted in: Grief, Life on Life's Terms, Living Into Death, Meditation, Seasonal Change

For the last 10 months I’ve been leading and participating in a group called Your Year to Live. We’re walking through a year together as though it is our last.

I’m starting a new cycle this January, 2017. I do hope you will join us.

Ice Storm

Ice Storm

Stephen Levine wrote the book A Year to Live nearly 20 years ago. I remember hearing about it, and wondering… why would anyone want to do that?

I wasn’t ready.

As many of you know, I midwifed my mother’s death 4 years ago. I’m grateful that she trusted me to do that. It was a painful, profound, rich experience. And, it brought me into a willingness to contemplate my own, inevitable death.

I’ve been reading Stephen Jenkinson’s book “Die Wise”. He’s a brilliant iconoclastic man who has been working with death and dying for many years. He makes the point that our culture has focused on death as a solely physiological event. As our culture has drifted into a less and less religious orientation, we find ourselves more and more concerned with science. With medical treatment.

There’s something important we have lost in this change. In the framing of death as a physiological event only, we lose access to death as an initiation of the soul.

“Offer a dying person a home visit from a physician, and it will be usually welcomed. This is true also of a visit from a nurse. But offer a home visit from a non-medical practitioner, a counselor, and the welcome vaporizes and the compliance plummets. The patient and family are saying: The body comes first. I am what my body needs, and my body needs this medical expertise. Whatever I might need I can likely conjure myself. Or at least it can wait.” Stephen Jenkinson, Die Wise

The thought of death is a complex one, to be sure. Many of us try not to think about it in anything other than abstractions, and/or in completely concrete terms. It will happen in a vague future, and all I need to do about it now is make sure I have a last will and testament, and an advanced directive. People around me need to know who gets my stuff, and how much medical intervention I want if I’m incapacitated.

There’s a lot more that happens when a person dies than medical intervention and disbursing belongings, though.

What about all the loose threads of relationships? The past traumas and shames? What will you do with the anger about past (or current) relationship that you’ve been stuffing for years? The unexpressed grief that may feel too big to acknowledge? What about the potential that you never got to realize in the world? What will you do with that when the end comes?

We explore our inevitable death partly so that when that time comes, we aren’t blindsided. So that we aren’t scrambling to play catch up on a soul level while we may also be dealing with medical treatments that will require a lot of our time and precious energy.

We also explore death because ultimately it is death that gives our life its deepest meaning. Accepting death is not encouraging nihilism. Accepting death says, “This life is finite. Let me enjoy it to its fullest!” Accepting death allows us to relax some of the unconscious (or conscious) anxiety most of us carry. What we can normalize is much less likely to grip us with fear.

Most of us don’t live in fear about the fact that at some point at the end of this day we will go to sleep. You are not generally terrified that the day will end. But, the idea that your life will end is usually relegated to a shadowy, unclear part of the mind.

You can do something about that. You can consciously bring death into focus. Not at the expense of your life, but actually in service to your life.

Please, join us. We will tie up loose ends where possible. At least acknowledge the loose ends where they can be known. We will meditate, and learn how to say YES to our lives with love – not only the yummy parts, but the challenging parts as well.

That’s a powerful practice, truly, to say yes to your whole life, including the parts of your heart that desperately want to say NO.

We will do a life review – gently, organically. We will step into forgiveness – of ourselves. Of others.

We will explore what we want to be remembered for. Envision what the world would be like without us. Envision who we might be without our bodies. Explore what death actually is.

I have noticed a gentling in the group that’s been meeting for the last 10 months. More than once I’ve heard someone say, “Wow, if that’s what death is, maybe it’s not so bad!” I’m seeing fear soften and dissolve. I’m seeing a willingness to drop into vulnerable states that some have not allowed themselves before. There is safety in the room.

Now offered in a video conferencing format so you can join us from wherever you are! I’ll have a public offering on January 5th for you to experience some of the foundational concepts and practices we’ll be exploring during the year, and have an opportunity to ask questions and hear from some of the current participants about their experiences during the current program.

Go here to read more about what’s offered in the 12 month course.

Contact me with any questions you may have. I want to talk to you before you register to make sure we’re a good fit. 503.422.8346, or


This entry was posted on Monday, December 12th, 2016 at 12:54 pm and is filed under Grief, Life on Life's Terms, Living Into Death, Meditation, Seasonal Change. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


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