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Die Wise: Making Meaning of the Ending of Days ~ Pittsboro, NC
December 12, 2015 @ 9:30 am - 3:30 pm
“If you love somebody, if you care about the world that’s to come after you, and if you want somebody to be spared the lunacy of what you’ve seen – you’ve got to die wise.”
Die Wise – A Manifesto for Sanity and Soul, is Stephen Jenkinson’s new book about grief, and dying, and the great love of life. Published by North Atlantic Books (March 2015) Griefwalker is a National Film Board of Canada feature documentary film, directed by Tim Wilson. It is a lyrical, poetic portrait of Stephen’s work with dying people. Filmed over a twelve year period, Griefwalker shows Jenkinson in teaching sessions with doctors and nurses, in counselling sessions with dying people and their families, and in meditative and often frank exchanges with the film’s director while paddling a birch bark canoe about the origins and consequences of his ideas for how we live and die.
Many among us now are crazy for meanings, and crazed by seeking them out. The meanings of life aren’t inherited. What is inherited is the mandate to make meanings of life by how we live. The endings of life give life’s meanings a chance to show. The beginning of the end of our life, and maybe our way of life, is now in view. It has always been there. This isn’t punishment, any more than dying is a punishment for being born. Instead, the world whispers: All we need of you is that you be human, now. Our work is to sort out what being human should be in such a time. This is a teaching for everyone who, hell or high water, is not going to pull off eternity, after all. Dying is not the end of wisdom and wisdom is not exhausted by dying. Dying could be and must be the fullest expression and incarnation of what you’ve learned. It’s a moral obligation to die well. Our work is to sort out what being sane should be in such a time. This is a teaching for everyone who will fail to live forever.
About Stephen Jenkinson, MTS, MSW
spiritual activist, teacher, author
Stephen teaches internationally and is the creator and principal instructor of the Orphan Wisdom School, founded in 2010. With Master’s degrees from Harvard University (Theology) and the University of Toronto (Social Work), he is revolutionizing grief and dying in North America. Stephen is redefining what it means to live, and die well. Apprenticed to a master storyteller, he has worked extensively with dying people and their families, is former programme director in a major Canadian hospital, former assistant professor in a prominent Canadian medical school, consultant to palliative care and hospice organizations and educator and advocate in the helping professions. He is also a sculptor, traditional canoe builder whose house won a Governor General’s Award for architecture.
He is the author of Die Wise: A Manifesto for Sanity and Soul (2015), Homecoming: The Haiku Sessions – a live recorded teaching (2013), How it All Could Be: A work book for dying people and those who love them (2009), Angel and Executioner: Grief and the Love of Life – a live recorded teaching (2009), and Money and The Soul’s Desires: A Meditation (2002), and former contributing author to Palliative Care – Core Skills and Clinical Competencies (2007).
Die Wise teaches the skills of dying, skills that have to be learned in the course of living deeply and well. Not a seven step coping strategy, not an out-clause for trauma or sorrow, Die Wise is for everyone who, hell or high water, is not going to pull off eternity after all. Dying is not the end of wisdom and wisdom not exhausted by dying. Dying could be and must be the fullest expression and incarnation of what you’ve learned by living. It’s a moral obligation to die well. If you love somebody, if you care about the world that’s to come after you, if you want somebody to be spared the lunacy of what you’ve seen, you’ve got to die wise.
Die Wise Video Trailer