My wife died 10 days before I wrote these words. What I know I have lost is her physical body, and it makes me feel emptier than I have ever been. We were married for 63 years.

At the same time, I have the sense that she’s still with me. What do I mean by that? I mean that her humor, beauty, love and spirit are still beside me and will never be lost by me. As many wise authors note, love is immortal and makes all things immortal. The bridge between the land of the living and the land of the dead is love.

The most significant factor in how you handle the inevitable changes which life presents you with is related to the messages your parents hypnotized you with.  Though, as a child, I did not appreciate what my parents were saying, the truth of their words showed me that change, though often unwanted, can be a gift.

Something Good Comes of Change

As my mother shared: God is redirecting you. Something good will come of this.

In the hospital, death is seen as a failure and a lost battle. So rarely do you hear the word “dead” used when a patient dies. They are lost, passed, gone and entering heaven.

Most people choose to lose their lives at night in the hospital so that the doctor won’t be there to interfere with their dying. One doctor wrote an article entitled, “Not on My Shift.” He realized that by being with a patient round the clock, they were keeping a man from dying on their shift in the ICU.

This doctor decided to let the man die. Death is not the enemy.

Death is an Ending and Beginning

I think of death as if it were a commencement. Why is it that a graduation is called a commencement and not a termination?  Because that is the nature of life. Loss is change and change is a commencement.

One thing I would ask you to lose forever is the fear of change. It is inevitable.

Change does not have to be interpreted as loss. We all experience change; it is the nature of life.

Loss Produces Growth

Let me close with some thoughts that have helped me. One is that what we call loss can be defined as change and that change can bring something new into your life. The way a labor pain leads to the birth of a new life and loss can be the pain which stimulates and produces new growth in your life.

Once you open your mind to this concept, you will turn your curse into a blessing. I can accept that everything is impermanent, but loss can become a gain if you maintain a quiet mind and allow yourself to see the truth. As Jung said, “The future is unconsciously prepared long in advance and, therefore, can be guessed by clairvoyants.” And I know that is true from my work with patients’ dreams and drawings.

Lose Your Fear of Loss

One thing I would ask you to lose forever is the fear of loss. When you live in fear of loss, you do not live. Fear is a helpful feeling when you are threatened by a vicious animal. Then you run and climb and do things a calm person could not achieve motivated and empowered by the fear.

But when you fear what is not reality but just your mind’s problems you are more likely to lose your life due to the negative effects of constant, yet unreal fear of loss.

My dad told my mother, “I need to get out of here.”  I told Mom he was talking about his body. So he had a day set aside for him to die and we let all our family know so they could come and be with him.

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Bernie Siegel

Dr. Bernie Siegel, who prefers to be called Bernie, not Dr. Siegel, was born in Brooklyn, NY. He attended Colgate University and Cornell University Medical College. He holds membership in two scholastic honor societies, Phi Beta Kappa and Alpha Omega Alpha and graduated with honors. His surgical training took place at Yale New Haven Hospital, West Haven Veteran’s Hospital and the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. He retired from practice as an assistant clinical professor of surgery at Yale of general and pediatric surgery in 1989 to speak to patients and their caregivers. In 1978 he originated Exceptional Cancer Patients, a specific form of individual and group therapy utilizing patients’ drawings, dreams, images and feelings. ECaP is based on “carefrontation,” a safe, loving therapeutic confrontation, which facilitates personal lifestyle changes, personal empowerment and healing of the individual’s life. The physical, spiritual and psychological benefits which followed led to his desire to make everyone aware of his or her healing potential. He realized exceptional behavior is what we are all capable of. Bernie, and his wife and coworker Bobbie, live in a suburb of New Haven, Connecticut. They have five children and eight grandchildren. Bernie and Bobbie have co-authored their children, books and articles. Their home with its many children, pets and interests resembled a cross between a family art gallery, museum, zoo and automobile repair shop. It still resembles these things, although the children are trying to improve its appearance in order to avoid embarrassment. In 1986 his first book, Love. Medicine & Miracles was published. This event redirected his life. In 1989 Peace, Love & Healing and in 1993 How To Live Between Office Visits followed. He is currently working on other books with the goal of humanizing medical education and medical care, as well as, empowering patients and teaching survival behavior to enhance immune system competency. Bernie’s realization that we all need help dealing with the difficulties of life, not just the physical ones, led to Bernie writing his fourth book in 1998 Prescriptions for Living. It helps people to become aware of the eternal truths and wisdom of the sages through Bernie’s stories and insights rather than wait a personal disaster. He wants to help people fix their lives before they are broken, and thus not have to become strong at the broken places. Published in 2003 are Help Me To Heal to empower patients and their caregivers and 365 Prescriptions For The Soul, in 2004 a children’s book about how difficulties can become blessings, Smudge Bunny, in 2005 101 Exercises For The Soul and out in the Fall of 2006 a prescriptions for parenting book Love, Magic & Mud Pies. Published in 2008 Buddy’s Candle, for children of all ages, related to dealing with the loss of a loved one, be it a pet or parent, and to be published in 2009 Faith, Hope & Healing with survivor stories and my reflections about what they teach us. Woody Allen once said, “If I had one wish it would be to be somebody else.” Bernie’s wish was to be a few inches taller. His work has been such a growth experience that he is now a few inches taller. His prediction is that in the next decade the role of consciousness, spirituality, non-local healing, body memory, and heart energy will all be explored as scientific subjects. For many, Bernie needs no introduction. He has touched many lives all over our planet. In 1978 he began talking about patient empowerment and the choice to live fully and die in peace. As a physician, who has cared for and counseled innumerable people whose mortality has been threatened by an illness, Bernie embraces a philosophy of living and dying that stands at the forefront of the medical ethics and spiritual issues our society grapples with today. He continues to assist in the breaking of new ground in the field of healing and personally struggling to live the message of kindness and love. Dr. Siegel appeared on the radio show “Healing the Grieving Heart” with Dr. Gloria & Dr. Heidi Horsley to discuss Finding Thanksgiving After Loss.

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