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And those final words are usually both terse and perfect--the distillate of an entire life. These sorts of questions are a part of being fearless with those who are dying. You can ask these sorts of questions even if you are not going to formally eulogize them at their funeral. Ask so that you can share the answers for the rest of your life with their children, their siblings, and their friends, and you can store them within your own heart when they are gone. Tell them to remember my life, not my death, Franny answered. Your boss has all of the control in this second situation. Of course, they have a big impact on your workday. But it's more important to figure out how you feel and how you experience this situation. Am I not showing up to work the way I intend because this job really isn't for me? You notice these emotions can feel heavy, breathing increases, and you start pacing back and forth. You feel your emotions rising and it feels almost scary. Ed helped me understand that in order for me to be truly healthy one day, I would have to understand my self from the inside out. He made me appreciate how little Steven had to do with how unhappy I was. My problems began the day I was conceived by a nineteen-year-old old teenage girl whose mother and father were both alcoholics, not the day I chose to quit nursing school to marry Steven. He was dependent on me, and I was dependent on him. In order for either of us to be healthy, we'd have to face this emotional disease head-on. I believed with all my heart that if Steven opened his mind to what I was trying to accomplish, we could rise above all that had been. After reading Co-dependent No More, I was certain what I had to do. We talk about the music she wanted played at her funeral, because music is important to her and she has given the subject a lot of thought. She asks me to listen to a couple of songs with her to help narrow it down to two for the funeral.

She decides she wants to open with the adagio from Mozart's Clarinet Concerto and close with Warren Zevon's Keep Me in Your Heart. Then we listen to Keep Me in Your Heart one more time. After two hours Franny is exhausted, and I have more appointments to keep. Somehow the mundane reasserts itself with both the living and the dying. I point this out to Franny when she tells me about the lineup of friends who have been by the past few days to visit and say goodbye. When you miss this part, you delay your healing and showing up to the world authentically. You're able to handle your emotions even when they are horribly painful. That panic attack you experienced is your body's way of keeping you safe because you haven't processed what's underneath. Here's another extreme example: when we are in really stressful situations we may disassociate. Our body is keeping us safe by not allowing ourselves to really process it until we are fully ready. It will tell you if it's too much for you in the moment and you can revisit the emotions once you feel safe again. It became my passion to break the cycle of co-dependency that had plagued my family for generations. I loved my children too deeply to not take this journey. He did, however, agree to see another marriage counselor in the area, named Alice. Within a few months of couples counseling Alice asked me if it would be all right for her to start having sessions with Steven alone. As far as I can tell, Lisa, you're clear about what you want. You want your marriage to work, but it has to change in order for it to survive. And I can tell that you are willing to do whatever it takes to see that it does survive. I'm not sure, however, if your husband is as willing to do whatever it takes to have a healthy marriage. There is no pretending they will see Franny alive again--and yet there is a strange normalcy to each visit, because the truth is that dying is both strange and normal at the same time.

I have said goodbye to so many dying people with a hug, a kiss, or a gentle wave, and then I turn and walk out the door--amazed by the ordinariness of it all. Perhaps it is because the dying are ready to die and the living somehow know it. But whatever the reason, and despite Hollywood's creations to the contrary, I affirm for Franny that saying goodbye, while poignant and sweet, is also mostly ordinary. Over time, you'll begin to be less scared of your emotions and see them as a valuable tool to guide your life. You've survived 100% of your bad days, I think you are doing pretty good. You start to engage in the emotional processing part of life, even if it seems too big. Yet, you are healing and showing up to the world authentically, regardless of how uncomfortable it is. You might take more space to process your emotions and figure out what works best for you. Ever listen to a friend complain about the same situation over and over again? It's sometimes difficult when a friend or family member constantly talks to us about that one problem they can't seem to shake. Maybe they constantly talk about how unhappy they are with their partner. They might really talk badly about their partner, yet they stay with them. So, I'd like a few sessions with him alone to help me figure out where his head is at, she said. After spending time with Steven, I need to tell you that he is not wiling to change. He has no interest in changing any of his ways, and in fact is enraged that you are not happy, and expect him to change at all. We are cheek to cheek, and she whispers, I wish you so much love. And I wish you perfect peace, my friend, and everlasting love. I am in my car in Franny's driveway, my thumbs flying across the keyboard of my phone, jotting down notes from our conversation. Later, when I arrive home, I go in my study to clean up and impose some order on my notes so they are well organized for later, when it's time to write Franny's eulogy. Graham Greene famously said that there is a splinter of ice in the heart of a writer which allows him or her to take notes in the midst of tragedy.

This is true of me in the midst of death and in the midst of life. Maybe they always describe how unhappy they are with their weight and they really want to start working out, but never do. Maybe they always bring up how dissatisfied they are with their job, but never make plans to change their career path or apply to other jobs. To you, it might seem like an easy fix if you were in their shoes. Is easy to say from the outside looking into their situation. The truth is, everyone is where they want to be, no matter how often they complain. People complain about their situations a variety of reasons: validation, attention, problem-solving, having an accomplice, among many others. He insists that he thinks you are crazy for even wanting to go into therapy. He doesn't think there is anything wrong with him, or with the way he treats you. Tears had already begun to flow by the end of Alice's third sentence. I realized that Steven and I were at a stalemate and that his inability to meet me halfway meant I was going to have to make some serious decisions about the rest of my life. By then I had learned enough about co-dependency to realize that I could not change anyone else but me, and that I couldn't save my marriage all by myself. And if you did, all that you have learned so far will have been for nothing. It is how I find and reveal meaning in the aftermath of seeing and feeling so much: leaving someone's deathbed; Through most of my day, nearly every day, I am taking notes for later, for some future listener or reader, and for me. As I stared into my father's casket, wondering if they had made some sort of terrible mistake because he did not look exactly like himself, I was in the surreal fog of death that both dulls and heightens our senses. I was there, but I was also observing myself observing, storing the image, the feeling--for later, when I can make some sense of it all. What kind of person takes notes for later while standing in front of his father's open casket? Albert Einstein supposedly said, There are only two ways to live your life. Never do I feel the miracle of life more so than in the face of death.

Sometimes, they've accepted part of a situation but they're unhappy with other parts. For example, they might be happy in their marriage but are very unhappy with the fact that their partner cheated a few years ago, so they continue to complain about it. It's because they haven't accepted the situation as a whole. Either way, someone may choose to stay in a situation and complain rather than make changes. And believe me, if you've had countless talks with them about their options and how to change, having another conversation about this same thing won't really make much of a difference. Trying to change someone only results in you feeling resentful, frustrated, or helpless. It's something you cannot control (as you can see, control is a big theme in this article! Also, it's upsetting to see a friend or family member go through a tough experience. You have a giant little boy on your hands, she said. He had had a session with Alice earlier that afternoon. His keys made a loud clanging noise when he tossed them on the counter. I do not know that any of us could go on without seeking and finding some order, some meaning and purpose to life. Sometimes I wonder, as all thinking people do, if life is ultimately meaningless and it is we who imbue it with invented purpose. But being so proximate to so many as their physical lives come to an end, I do not think so--mostly because of how much it hurts us when someone we love is gone. That pain is the surest sign to me that life matters. My notes are not imposing meaning, they are revealing it. At home, I Google the lyrics to Warren Zevon's Keep Me in Your Heart because I am sad and want to listen to it again. Occasionally I just want to feel fully present, with no obligation to articulate those feelings to others as if they were theirs. It takes an act of will for me to melt that splinter of ice, to bridge the distance between me and my deeper feelings so that I feel more keenly the sadness and the suffering of my own heart, both bruised and made more beautiful by saying goodbye to so many. When I am sick of death, I drink scotch sometimes.