Toasting Grief


Good grief.  We were a motley crew ranging in age from 25-50.  A medium, a Zen hospice physician and two authors of memoirs on grief, healing and the afterlife.    At the start of the evening we were four individuals intimately acquainted with death but not each other.

Seated at the dinner table last night what did we discuss?  We discussed life.  Living.  We toasted Ted Talks, Op-eds, TV deals, book launches and paperback releases.  We laughed.  We brought each other down a peg while simultaneously supporting and honoring the work we each were doing small and large.  We sipped pinot noir and then zinfandel.  Somebody smoked a cigarette—I won’t say who.

We flirted with the waitstaff, the sommelier, the manager, the dog outside.  We talked about connection, friendship, and vulnerabilities both personal and professional.  We discussed the status quo and how to change conversations about death on a global scale.  We laughed some more and everyone around that table smiled with their eyes.

We were full before the food arrived.

At one point one of us paused, looked around the table and said with playful gravitas “those of us who are intimately acquainted with death sure do know how to live”.  The statement came after we had each had enough wine that I don’t recall which of us said it.  However, it is equally likely that any one of the four of us would have uttered the words.  At that we all toasted to living despite…..

A NOTE TO READERS:    If this conversation interests you I invite you to seek out Psychic Medium Fleur, Author Claire Bidwell Smith (‘The Rules of Inheritance’ and ‘After This’),  and Dr BJ Miller (Director of Zen Hospice San Francisco).  Each are making great contributions to the different ways in which we move through bereavement as individuals and as a society.