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Life Lessons – Elisabeth Kubler-Ross & David Kessler

From “Life Lessons: Two Experts on Death and Dying Teach Us About the Mysteries of Life and Living” by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross & David Kessler

A Message From Elisabeth 

We all have lessons to learn during this time called life; this is especially apparent when working with the dying. The dying learn a great deal at the end of life, usually when it is too late to apply. After moving to the Arizona desert in 1995, I had a stroke on Mother’s Day that left me paralyzed. I spent the next few years at death’s door. Sometimes I thought death would come within a few weeks. Many times, I was disappointed that it did not come, for I was ready. But I have not died because I am still learning the lessons of life, my final lessons. These lessons are the ultimate truths about our lives; they are the secrets to life itself. I wanted to write one more book, not on death and dying but on life and living.

Each of us has a Gandhi and a Hitler in us. I mean this symbolically. The Gandhi refers to the best in us, the most compassionate in us, while the Hitler to the worst in us, our negatives and smallness. Our lessons in life involve working on our smallness, getting rid of our negativity and finding the best in ourselves and each other. These lessons are the windstorms of life, they make us who we are. We are here to heal one another and ourselves. Not healing as in physical recovery, but a much deeper healing. The healing of our spirits, our souls.

When we talk about learning our lessons, we’re talking about getting rid of unfinished business. Unfinished business isn’t about death. It’s about life. It addresses our most important issues, such as “Yes, I made a nice living but did I ever take time out to really live?” Many people have existed, yet never really lived. And they expended tremendous amounts of energy keeping a lid on their unfinished business.

Since unfinished business is the biggest problem in life, it’s also the primary issue we address as we face death. Most of us pass on with a great deal of unfinished business; many of us have at least some. There are so many lessons to learn in life, it’s impossible to master them all in one lifetime. But the more lessons we learn the more business we finish, and the more fully we live, really live life. And no matter when we die, we can say, “God, I have lived!”

A Message From David 

I have spent a great deal of time with people at the edge of life. This work has been enriching and life expanding. I can trace much of my growth, psychologically, emotionally, and spiritually, to my work with the dying. While I am deeply grateful to those I have worked with and who have taught me so much, my lessons did not begin with them. Instead, they began many years ago with my own mother’s death and continue to the present as I lose people I love.

During the past few years I have been preparing to say good-bye to a teacher, mentor, and dear, dear friend, Elisabeth. I have spent a great deal of time with her, being taught final lessons. Having taught me so much about my work with the dying, she was now facing death in her own life. She shared how she was feeling — angry a lot of the time — and her views on life. She was completing her last book, The Wheel of Life, and I was writing my first, The Needs of the Dying. Even during this challenging time of her life she was profoundly helpful to me, dispensing advice on publishing, my patients, and life itself.

Many times, it was enormously hard for me to leave her house. We would say our good-byes, both believing that this would be the last time we would see each other. I would walk away in tears. It is so hard to lose someone who has meant so much, yet she said she was ready. But Elisabeth did not die; she slowly got better. She was not finished with life and it was clearly not finished with her.

In days long gone, the community would have gathering places where children and adults listened as the older men and women told stories of life, of life’s challenges and the lessons that can be drawn from the edge of life. People knew that sometimes our greatest lessons lie in our greatest pain. And they knew that it was important to the dying, as well as to the living, that these lessons be passed on. That is what I hope to do, pass on some of the lessons I have learned. Doing so ensures that the best parts of those who have died will live on.

We find many things on this long, sometimes strange journey we see as life, but we mostly find ourselves. Who we really are, what matters most to us. We learn from peaks and valleys what love and relationships really are. We find the courage to push through our anger, tears, and fears. In the mystery of all this, we have been given all we need to make life work — to find happiness. Not perfect lives, not storybook tales, but authentic lives that can make our hearts swell with meaning.

I had the privilege of spending time with Mother Teresa a few months before she died. She told me that her most important work was with the dying, because she considered life so precious. “A life is an achievement,” she said, “and dying, the end of that achievement.” Not only do most of us not see death as an achievement, we don’t see our lives as achievements — and yet, they are.

The dying have always been teachers of great lessons, for it’s when we are pushed to the edge of life that we see life most clearly. In sharing their lessons, the dying teach us much about the preciousness of life itself. In them we discover the hero, that part that transcends all we have been through and delivers us to all we are capable of doing and being. To not just be alive, but to feel alive.

Awaken Body

Awaken Spirit

Source: AWAKEN


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