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Irvin Yalom - A Matter of Death & Life

What terrifies most about death is not a loss of the future but the loss of the past. In fact, the act of forgetting is a form of death always present within life. Milos Kundera

This quote is interesting to think about in the context of remembering and how our culture ignores this a lot of times. It can be uncomfortable/awkward to say goodbye, or to let someone know how much they meant to us. Yalom mentioned in another book "Staring at the Sun" how life is full of mini deaths to help prepare us along the way for our final death.

I have a good friend (we worked together as therapists in practicum groups at The Seattle School) who is moving to Africa for a long period. This is a tremendous loss and it is really sad for me. Our regular tradition/ritual for a few years has been to get soup together. With COVID, obviously we haven't been able to do that regularly this last year.

Yesterday, we met at a park and had a final soup together from Kizuki. We got to chat about life, his upcoming move, etc. As the final minutes together approached, I realized that we were about to start saying goodbye. He let me know how much I meant to him and that a lot of people respect him, but not a lot are intentional with seeking him out. We talked about our conversations of both being third-culture kids and how not a lot of people understand what goes along with that experience. I think it's important to say goodbye, to honor the experiences we have with others, and to do endings well. I appreciated the opportunity to acknowledge our mutually-felt interactions and to say they were meaningful.

Yalom talks about having as few regrets as possible in life to help with the anxiety of death. As his wife approached the end of her life, she and Irvin were able to reflect on their lives and to say that it had been good. They had a loving family, good friends, careers, and they built a meaningful life together. Viktor Frankl says we can find meaning in life through: work (doing something significant), in love (caring for another person), and in courage during difficult times.

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