Posts Tagged ‘dying’

A Lesson from 2007

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

Click here to read my English usage blog.

Here, in brief, is what I learned in 2007:

Honor your losses.
Celebrate your blessings.
Give compassion to yourself and others when either of these tasks seems difficult.

Two weeks ago, I shared my grief over my friend Gio’s sudden passing and invited you to honor your grief by sharing your stories. In addition to the one I am reprinting below, which speaks to the poignancy of love and loss, I received so many e-mails with condolences and tributes. Thank you for responding with your lovely, healing words and tender hearts. I am truly touched.

The Person You Would Love To Hate but Just Couldn’t

One of the closest friends that I’ll ever know, Jill, died 11 years ago TODAY. It’s been such a long time since I’ve seen her that I sometimes have doubts that she ever actually existed. She feels more like a dream than someone I actually knew, but if I tap in a little deeper, I remember that she did exist and was one of the most amazing people I have ever known — and it drums up all kinds of emotions.
Jill was the type of person who made everyone mixed tapes, sent cards for no reason, collected poetry, always laughing and joking, kind to everyone she came into contact with, an amazing athlete — basically the person you would love to hate but just couldn’t. Everything about her was genuine. And I tend to look back in awe — thinking I should have known that she was temporary. There was something about her that was bigger — so much more than anyone I’d ever known.
I’d thought about her a few times today and thought to myself that I should do something today to honor her — and then your e-newsletter came, Jane, and it provided me the perfect opportunity. It also reminds me of my passion to help people celebrate the lives of loved ones…which I hope to start looking into in the very near future.
—Jenny C.

About Jane Straus
Jane is a trusted life coach, dynamic keynote speaker, and the author of Enough Is Enough! Stop Enduring and Start Living Your Extraordinary Life. With humor and grace, Jane offers her clients and seminar participants insights and exercises to ensure that the next chapter of their lives is about thriving as the unique individuals they have always been and the extraordinary ones they are still becoming. She serves clients worldwide and invites you to visit her site, Here you will find excerpts from her book, more articles, TV and radio interviews, and clips from her presentations.

She is also the author of The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation,, an award-winning online resource and workbook with easy-to-understand rules, real-world examples, and fun quizzes. Contact Jane at

When the Words Won’t Come

Monday, May 21st, 2007

Last week, the day before my birthday, my dear friend Kathleen Dughi breathed her last breath as I, along with her other close friends, stroked her head and talked to her, keeping our promise to guide her to the threshhold of the journey beyond. I’ve been struggling to say something profound about the experience, something universal, but the words won’t come.

Four and half years ago, I was with Kathleen when she was told that she had breast cancer, that it was metastatic and aggressive, and that she had only a few months to live. In lieu of comforting words that would not come then, I suggested we go for a drink overlooking the bay. A drink or two helped Kathleen find the fighting words that defined the next four and half years: “Doctors don’t know everything.” Numbed by fear, shock, and confusion, I think I managed to nod.

As it turned out, the doctors did know how virulent this cancer could be. The only thing they didn’t know was Kathleen. I think that thriving four years beyond their predictions speaks volumes—about her courage, inner strength, stubbornness, intense desire to mother her son for as long as possible, and urge to push herself artistically.

She didn’t waste a day of those four years. If the doctors kept her sitting too long in the waiting room, she’d get up and threaten to leave (or actually walk out). If they told her she needed to stay in the hospital for five days after one of her many surgeries, she’d order the nurse to help her get dressed to go after only three. Her explanation required few words: “I have work to do.” And she did.

In the last four years, her jewelry designs have become internationally renowned. Tyra Banks has worn her creations for a photo shoot. Fashion magazines have done spreads on her. And her biggest source of pride, her son Oliver, has matured into a 14-year-old young man who cares enough to ask how you are or what he can do to help even in the midst of his own suffering. The morning before she died, he told her that she didn’t have to stay for him anymore, that he didn’t want her to suffer. None of us have any doubt that this is what released her to go in peace. None of us doubt the kind of man he is growing up to be. There are no words.

I can’t begin to describe the ache in my chest, the longing to hear her laugh again, to take one more hike together, to talk about our children’s latest achievements, to listen as she points to the latest blooms in her garden, naming them for me. The only words that will come are, “I admire you for making up your own rules. I will miss you, my dear friend.”

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