When Death Becomes You

There comes a time in everyone’s lives when the path has to change. We are hardwired for growth, but growth, like everything else, is a choice. And so is death. I’ve chosen to die twice now, and I can tell you, it’s a love/hate relationship. In the end I can highly recommend it. Now that I have done it a few times, I can see when it’s coming and get a little prepared. But as any hospice worker will tell you, every death is unique, so you can’t ever be totally prepared.

Every one of my clients comes to me needing to die. I mean they say they come to me to find a life, time management, more sleep, more family time, career growth,  but eventually we move through the whole “abundant, best life” thing and we get down to the truth.

In order to live and keep breathing, they are going to need to die.

They fought a good fight to keep the life they had, “make it work”, “see the silver lining” “push through it”.

“I can make this marriage work for the kids, for my friends, for my religion. Divorce is not an option.”

“I can deal with my abusive co-worker a little longer to get the promotion.”

“So I have a few drinks. I’ll cut back just as soon as the stress settles down.”

“I just need to be more grateful for what I have. I can learn to love what I have and deal with the rest.”

“A good mom makes sure everyone else is happy. I’m happy as long as everyone else is happy.”

I will tell you this truth. All my clients are super smart, high IQ’s and all that. Some have fancy letters after their names like PhD, CEO, CFO, MD, Navy Seal (ok, I threw that in to see if you were paying attention). They are used to solving multi-million dollar problems, owning the courtroom, and being strategic, methodical, logical, successful. They are driven, they have 30 day, 90 day, 1 year, 5 year, 10 year and retirement plans all laid out. And the parents that are full-time? They are so ON it. Homework, reading, lunches, singing, carpooling, museums, road trips. The whole package.

What I’m saying is, these people don’t whine, they don’t complain. So when they get to me, they have worked really really hard to make it work. If they could think their way around it, through it, over it, under it, they’d have checked it off their “to do list” ages ago.

So they go through the trying, the goal-setting, the audio books, they consult friends, family, their doctor, a beer with the boys, a glass of wine with the girls.

They know that in order to embrace a different way, a different life, they are going to have to die. Not a little death, like the death of just one body part. I’m talking a lot of death.

The death of one life, so that another life can start.

Sometimes they beg me to do it, or they think I know of “quick fix” that could make the death painless.

“ Don’t you have a 5 step process for this?”

“So how long do you think this will take?”

“I know what I want, but I’m not going to change anything to get it, ok?”

“I can’t go on living like this.”

My answer? “I know. You really can’t go on living LIKE THIS.”

I have to tell them the truth.  I only provide palliative care. I can make them comfortable. Provide a safe space. There will be no epidural, no drugs, no ability to “numb out” no lighting of candles and “adjusting your Chi”.  I’m not that kind of coach. If they choose to die it will be painful. It will hurt. There will be scars.

And then it will get better. Really, really better.

They will move from being a victim to being a survivor. From wounded to healing.  Stuck to moving. Struggling to searching.  Angry to compassionate. Restless to content.

But here’s the kicker: Death comes first. Death of the old you. Death to the labels you’ve carried. Death to the stories you’ve massaged. And there is a small part of the death that must be done alone.

You see, you’ve got people that liked the old you. The person you are is known, secure, and serves a purpose for them. They don’t want you to die and they don’t want to go with you. You staying stuck, or fat, or drunk, or sleep deprived, or constantly stressed serves them. It allows them to stay whoever they are.

There are others who want to travel with you while you are steering by starlight (that’s me). They want to help you in the dark, and then see you through and on your way. And there are still more who are way ahead, and they need you. They haven’t met you yet. They need to you become the writer, the athlete, the teacher, the musician, the executive, the mother, the father, the artist you are meant to be because they are struggling. They need you to die. If you continue to play small, hide who you are meant to be, they will never meet you.

They need you to die now though. Not tomorrow, or when it’s convenient, or on New Year’s Eve when the ball drops.  Like now.

So let go of who you thought you should be. Who you were told you could be. Dare to become.  Take your death sentence, and make it into a long strand of sentences that when put together, tell the before and after story of your bold, brave, messy life.

Make Today Your TurningPoint.