Today, I’d like to introduce you to Kim Mooney, an expert in end-of-life issues and grief education, and one of my favorite people. She’s won multiple awards at the local as well as national level, and is an author as well as a TV and radio show host. One of the things I love most about Kim is how warm and funny she is. If you’re wrestling with grief and/or end-of-life matters, she’s a fabulous person to have in your corner.
Grab a cuppa your favorite beverage on this snowy Halloween and settle in for the second installment of our Community Spotlight Series!
Meet Kim Mooney
Below is a brief interview with Kim Mooney, founder of Practically Dying, and one of our very own community members. With the holidays around the corner, I asked Kim if she could tell us a bit about how she came to this work as well as give us a few tips for surviving the holidays. For those of you looking for more concrete support, I’ve included two of her upcoming classes below. The excerpt below is in her words.
In my experience, almost everyone who comes to death work has had a personal experience which woke them up, whether it was positive or negative. Mine was cervical cancer and being in a support group in which almost everyone died, not in the right order and not at the right time. It frightened me to be in the presence of my own mortality.
I wrote to Stephen Levine, one of the most profound spiritual teachers on death and dying of our time, and said I’m going to die. He wrote back, Well, yeah, what’s the problem? I’m scared, I wrote back. He answered: Get a little closer to the fire. Go volunteer with hospice.
That was 30 years ago and after a very brief time volunteering, I felt the challenge and peace it brought me to be so often and so closely in the presence of my own mortality.
Anyone who crosses that field of poppies knows that waking to death is essential to life. We all bump up against death all the time, every day, every moment, but we aren’t encouraged to see it as anything other than an uncontrollable loss. That’s true but it’s only part of the story.
If we want to change the careless way we live (and die), we have to slow down. An understanding of death takes time and we can only react (not respond) to it if we glance off our emotions and keep going. We don’t drop into the depth of being that death forces us to occupy unless we are pressed to, so we don’t learn how to grieve well. And the exhaustion, confusion and devastation of grief can grow into compassion and gratitude if we explore it. If we don’t, that exhaustion, confusion and devastation can ruin our lives.
Our holiday seasons can be overwhelming and unwelcome for those who are sad or grieving. They don’t know how to navigate the expectations of happiness or heightened social activity. It helps to know there is choice in how we take care of ourselves.
If you’re experiencing sadness or grief and it feels daunting to imagine how you’ll get through, I suggest you make a plan (whether it’s to accept an invitation or stay home with the door shut and watch a good movie), but let others know that you may need to cancel at the last minute if you’re not up to it. Giving yourself permission and getting support from others to take care of yourself is one of the best gifts of all.
Below are two of Kim’s upcoming offerings for those of you who’d like more concrete support. As many of you know, grief is near and dear to my heart. One of the things that helped me turn the corner after my mom died was getting support. If you find yourself wrestling with grief over the next few months, please, please get support! We’re not meant to do this alone.
Surviving the Holidays When You’re Supposed to Be Happy
Surviving the holidays when you’re living with a painful loss is difficult. For anyone living with a painful loss, regardless of your culture or faith, the expectations that you’ll be happy during the holidays may be overwhelming and unwelcome. Memories — good or painful – may be more likely to come up. It can be confusing and alienating not knowing how to participate, or how to withdraw.
In this single-session LIVE on-line group, we’ll support each other to develop strategies that honor our own needs and help others support us. Join us and discover how to identify your needs and learn the gift of caring for yourself with compassion. We’ll also talk about how to carry your self-care into the post-holiday season. Handouts for yourself and others are included.
This event is offered two separate times, using the Zoom platform.
Thursday, Nov. 7 from 6:30pm–8pm
Sunday, Nov. 10 from 10am-11:30am
Rituals for Grief and Gratitude
All lives have times of deep gratitude, feeling awe for what namelessly fills our heart, and times of deep grief, wondering if we will ever see color or light again.
Ritual brings power and shape to those times by stirring our hearts and spirits to bring their strengths to our experience. As we carry an intention to enrich the meaning of a time or event, we also allow it to shape us.
In this day-long workshop, Ordinary Magic, we’ll explore the substance of time-honored rituals and the alchemical power of personal ritual.
Using storytelling, art, a labyrinth walk, and personal symbols, you will understand the nature, purpose and effect of ritual as an approach to life, and learn to create personal forms that you can use in any situation at any time.
Willow Farm Contemplative Center
Thank you, Kim, for being part of our fabulous community!
Wishing you all a wonderful Halloween as well as Day of the Dead!
P.S.: Like to nominate yourself or someone you know for our next Community Spotlight Series? Simply email me at tanja [at] tanjapajevic [dot] com.
P.P.S.: I’m working on my offerings for the New Year (gasp! How it is that we’re already into November?!) and will have that ready for you in the next couple of weeks. Stay tuned!