by Louise Hay and Cheryl Richardson (Today’s PRIZE GIVEAWAY is a copy of You Can Create an Exceptional Life. Simply leave a COMMENT to enter. See details below)
Andrew Cort’s Mini-Review:
This new book is a series of captivating conversations between two amazing women, both best-selling authors and highly regarded spiritual teachers – Louise Hay and Cheryl Richardson. They discuss a wide range of topics, including the importance of loving ourselves and our bodies; aging consciously; bringing prosperity and abundance into the world; creating positive relationship with family, friends and at work; and facing death in a dignified, conscious and peaceful way.
“The idea Cheryl and I had,” writes Louise, “was to present these methods in the easiest possible way so that you could, step-by-step, learn how to have peace of mind—to live worry free in a healthy body, with a comfortable income, while enjoying your relationships. Ultimately, we wanted to show you how to move from feeling like a victim to being the creator of an enjoyable life.”
One of their first conversations helps to place us all ‘in the same boat’, if you will, as the two women discuss their own ‘classic wakeup calls’; that is, some life event (or two or three) such as the ones we have all endured (“the often-abrupt and unexpected rupture that can occur in a comfortably numb life.”) It might be a broken heart, a death, a divorce, a lost job, a fire or other catastrophe, etc. Typically, we eventually look back on our lives and see that it was one of these events, so horrible and sad at the time, that woke us up and ultimately put us firmly on the spiritual path.
That would be the ‘beginning’ of a new life. The Excerpt I’ve chosen to share today from this terrific book comes toward the end, as the two authors discuss the issues surrounding death: our fears, the religious teachings we absorbed as children, the effects on our loved ones, the way our culture encourages us to avoid talking about it, the need of doctors to be aggressive about fighting it, the need for each of us to make peace and accept it, and all the spiritual aspects of transition that we must explore for ourselves.
“We need to address the vast array of stuff we’re taught about death.”
“If your parents went to a church filled with messages of hellfire and damnation, you could be very frightened of death. You’ll wonder, Have I been good enough, and if not, am I going to burn forever?
And if you think you’re going to burn forever, then you’ll be scared shitless of dying. No wonder so many people are terrified of death. A lot of religions share that message in one form or another—that you’re a sinner and you have to behave or you’re going to pay for it when you die. You may not be burned in hell, but you will
pay. In that way, death becomes quite scary.”
I think about the concept of hell and damnation, and recall my own childhood experience. I was very familiar with the idea of heaven and hell, as well as something in between—purgatory or limbo. I was raised to believe that you went to heaven if you were a good, rule-abiding Catholic, and to hell if you were not. Purgatory and limbo were the in-between states for those who needed to atone for their sins, or for children who had not received the sacrament of baptism. As a little girl, I used to kneel by my bed before going to sleep, repeating the words Jesus, Mary, and Joseph as many times as I could to help move souls from purgatory to heaven. I hated the idea of people being stuck in a place where they were frightened and alone. Fortunately, as I matured and began to explore a variety of religious and spiritual traditions, I went on to trade in the concept of hell for a personal belief that death is merely a transition point that reunites us all with our Creator in a state of love, compassion, and forgiveness.
Are you afraid of death at this point in your life? I ask Louise.
“No. I don’t want to go right now because there are things I want to do, but I’m going to say that throughout my entire life. We all will. There’s always one more thing to do—a child’s wedding to attend, a baby ready to be born, or a book to write. I also have this very strong feeling that we arrive in the middle of the movie, and we leave in the middle of the movie. The movie is continuous. We enter and we exit. All of us do that. There’s no wrong time or right time, there’s just our time—it was our time to be born and our time to go.”
I think about the idea of leaving in the middle of the movie and agree that it is the hard part of death—never having a “buttoned-up time” to go.
As Louise explains, “I believe that long before we arrive, the soul makes the choice to experience certain lessons—lessons about loving each other and ourselves. When we learn the lesson of love, we may leave with joy. There is no need for pain or suffering. We know that next time, wherever we choose to incarnate, we will take all of the love with us.”
So the question is, then, how to make peace with leaving in the middle of the movie. The problem, as I see it, is that we are so uncomfortable with death. We don’t talk about it. We don’t prepare for it. We don’t even allow ourselves to think about our fears and concerns. We live in a culture that avoids the topic altogether. Instead, we wait until we’re up against a serious illness and forced to make important decisions under pressure—for loved ones or ourselves—and then wonder why it’s so frightening and painful.
To make peace with leaving, we first need to be willing to address the issue. We need to face the awkwardness and uncomfortable feelings associated with death by looking fear in the eye. When we do, we discover what that fear has to teach us.
I certainly ignored anything having to do with death until my early 30s, when I had the privilege of going through the process of dying in a conscious way with someone I cared about. Her name was Lucy, and she was in her 80s. Lucy had a house filled with lifelong treasures, a wise mind, and a big heart . . . but no family. During a hospital visit for a bad chest cold, she was told that she was dying of cancer, and she promptly asked me to help her get her affairs in order. My first reaction was, No way! I have no interest whatsoever in stepping into that minefield. However, after further discussion, my compassion (and guilt) got the better of me, and I reluctantly agreed.
What unfolded over the next three months was nothing short of a miracle. One by one, Lucy and I reviewed the treasures in her home and made plans to give them to specific people. I became intimately familiar with her life, her loves, and her desires for how to end her life. I made her a promise that I would follow through on her wishes, both while she was dying and once she was gone.
On the night of Lucy’s death, I had given a speech and was home tucked in bed when something told me to get up and make the hour-long trip to see her. Knowing enough to trust my gut, I did what it instructed and drove to the hospital. Once there, I found my friend unconscious, in a private room, stationed with a loving and compassionate nurse who assured me that she could hear everything I said.
For almost an hour I sat by Lucy’s side, reviewing the instructions she had given me about her end-of-life planning. I talked them through, out loud, as she lay before me. I assured her that all was in order and that it was okay to make the transition to a more peaceful place. Was I frightened? You bet. But I was also prepared.
While I was looking at her beautiful face, she suddenly woke up, looked directly into my eyes, gave me a big smile, and took her last breath. In that moment, something significant shifted. Death and I had become intimate friends.
I sat by Lucy’s side that night for quite a while after she passed, staring at her face, her hands, and her lifeless body, contemplating this scary thing we call death. But I wasn’t scared. Instead, I felt safe, touched in a tender and profound way, and surprised by how natural the actual process turned out to be. Yes, I would miss my friend, but from this new perspective, death wasn’t the silent monster I had made it out to be—a bogeyman who needed to be locked away, only to be let out at the last possible moment. It was a gentle state of release and surrender, the completion of a promise.
“You see, you’ve been through one death experience, and you know it’s not going to kill you,” Louise says to me now. “It turns out to be more beautiful than awful when we approach it with love and proper planning. It can be a nightmare, however, if you’re not prepared.
“A year ago, after a good friend of mine became seriously ill, I thought a lot about my own death. He was a minister who was so good with people who were facing the end of their lives. He knew just the right things to say and do. He was fabulous at handling death. But when it came to be his time to go, things were very different. He was a bloody pain in the ass. He was constantly whining and moaning, complaining that this was wrong or that was wrong. If you sat him down, he wanted to get up; and if you got him up, he wanted to sit down. Pretty soon, everybody was pissed at him. As I watched what went on, I wondered why he couldn’t do for himself what he had done for others.”
After pausing for a moment, she goes on. “Seeing my friend die a difficult death showed me the wrong way to do it. So many people loved him, yet so many of us ended up wanting to punch him. He wouldn’t allow us to love him. I think he was scared and hadn’t dealt with a lot of stuff.”
So seeing how he made the transition made you think about how you’d want to make the transition yourself, I say. How would you want to do it?
“First, I would allow people to love me as much as they wanted to. I would allow people to take care of me. I would allow people to make it a wonderful experience. Although I’d probably be comforting them. Now that, to me, would be the ideal situation: allowing others to love me while comforting them at the same time. Either that or I’d like to simply go to sleep one night after a lovely party and not wake up.”
We both laugh in acknowledgment of the peace and simplicity of this idea.
“When it’s my turn to leave,” Louise clarifies, “I want it to be a conscious process, and I want to be focused on how I can make it as comfortable as possible. Since I went through that experience with my friend, I made a decision to put two people in charge of my passing—one who will make decisions related to my body, and one who will support my emotional and spiritual comfort. When it’s my time to go, I will now have someone with me who is familiar and comfortable with the dying process.”
Louise L. Hay, the author of the international bestseller You Can Heal Your Life
, is a metaphysical lecturer and teacher with more than 40 million books sold worldwide. For more than 25 years, Louise has helped people throughout the world discover and implement the full potential of their own creative powers for personal growth and self-healing. Louise is the founder and chairman of Hay House, Inc., which disseminates books, CDs, DVDs, and other products that contribute to the healing of the planet. Visit her website at
Cheryl Richardson is the author of The New York Times
bestselling books, Take Time for Your Life, Life Makeovers, Stand Up for Your Life, The Unmistakable Touch of Grace
and her new book The Art of Extreme Self Care.
She was the first president of the International Coach Federation and holds one of their first Master Certified Coach credentials. Cheryl is also the recipient of the 2000 Motivational Book Award for Life Makeovers
from Books for a Better Life, which honors the year’s most outstanding books and magazines in the self-improvement genre. Her book, The Unmistakable Touch of Grace,
was chosen as a finalist in the 2005 Spiritual Inspiration category for Books for a Better Life. You can visit her website at
Steve is offering a Free Copy of YOU CAN CREATE AN EXCEPTIONAL LIFE to today’s lucky winner (NB. The book will not be available until September 20th.)
Today’s Prize Giveaway has the same rules as the other giveaways:
1.To enter to win, simply COMMENT ON THIS BLOG, leaving an email address so we can contact you if you win. All names of commenters go into the ‘hat’.
2.The giveaway period runs for ONE WEEK from posting. The winner will then be chosen by random drawing and contacted.
3. Only one entry per giveaway. (But you can enter as many different Daily Giveaway Contests as you want!)
If you don’t win this one, be sure to order a copy of You Can Create an Exceptional Life from Amazon: