March 07, 2012

Tricycle Talks: Stephen Jenkinson (a.k.a. the Griefwalker)

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Death is often a taboo subject in our society. But why would we want to avoid a subject that is relevant to every living creature on earth? We at Tricycle don't think that we should, which is why this week's Tricycle Talk features Harvard-educated theologian and end-of-life care educator Stephen Jenkinson. Listen to Tricycle's Sam Mowe speak with Jenkinson about the ways that we care for the dying and why he thinks "the cradle of your love of life is death."

Jenkinson is also the subject of the documentary Griefwalker, which is showing this month at the Tricycle Film Club. Supporting and Sustaining Members of the Tricycle Community can watch the film here.

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Tricycle Talk with Stephen Jenkinson (20:39 minutes)

sima's picture

Acceptance is too neutral...Loving the end..
That sounds pretty radical but truly heartfelt.
Preparing for a graceful dieing so our children and loved ones witness how we died and not what caused our death is what I take to heart as my spiritual path. To show up and face my death as my teacher when the need of the moment arises. It'll be a journey from theory to practice. Thank you Stephen & Tim.'s picture

Dear Stephen
on a day i was overwhelmed by my grief and sorrow for my sweet ill grandson who has taken a turn for the worse i did something i have not done in a long while i turned on my computer and went to this site and saw your film. i would like to say it helped but ..................
sick children
my beloved grandson who i have cared for the last 5 years
no no one wants to talk about illness and death of a child
some part of me realized that death is not personal
and for you beloved either is birth or lack of it
yet it feels personal so personal
as i watch him weaken
i am afraid and so sad so very sad
when it is happening before you it shadows everything
so powerless always have been
the film is helping me look feel sense be with this terror
and than be there for him and the other children and my son in a calm way with an open heart
i shake just writing this
no nobody wants to talk about nor hear about it

larryleeder's picture

I too viewed Stephen’s documentary with great interest & am heartened that this is being made available to a wide audience; may it spread widel, so needed!
I came across your post this morning. FWIW, I feel moved to relate the following.
My only son passed recently. He was the young man who fell from Half Dome in Yosemite last summer. Perhaps you heard about it as it was in the news at the time.
Although a young adult, he was “much younger than his years”. I was also his closest friend as well as dad. In the ensuing months I did a great deal of soul searching/introspection. As a result became determined to use what I experienced, as best as I’m able, to become much more vigilant in my spiritual practice. Determined to do what I can to “see more clearly” just what this life is REALLY about. I’ve increased my meditation time greatly & have been fortunate enough to arrange my days to make it the centerpiece of my life now. I’ve found that for me, I’ve made the “suffering” I’ve witnessed, the fulcrum of my practice. Somehow trying to “use” the suffering to advantage not just for myself but for the world in some small way as we are truly all in this together. I was deeply affected by the passing of such a young person but over the past few months I’ve come to see that much differently. I think we all have a certain amount of time to be here in this life and the yardstick of “time” for measuring in this regard is pretty useless. Instead I’ve come to the view that whatever length of time we are here IS a full life; “our” full life. My son lived as “deeply” as he was able in “his” unique timeline. Somehow, it’s helped me greatly to see it this way. It’s somehow closer to the timeless reality we all share.

Stephen Jenkinson's picture

No Laura, almost nobody does. This 'wanting' is no prerequisite for good, important, true, mandatory, enduring, unwelcome things showing up in the world, which your note here testifies to. This is the compassion that is to me stitched into the fabric of the universe itself, that our desires and preferences play so little part outside of our inner life, that we often don't have to pursue a deep thing in order for it to catch us. You've had a burdensome privelege which no one - myself included - would ever want. The German poet Holderlin tried to life his life in such a way that, eventually, nothing human would be foreign to him. Amen.