The Circle of Life, Death, and Learning

“Will the circle be unbroken
By and by, lord, by and by…” Ada R. Habershon

It’s part of becoming an elder, isn’t it? Death and dying enters our circle as a constant rather than an occasional visitor. One of my best friends died in January and now the husband of another close friend has begun his next journey.

After exhausting days of vigil and attendance,  I whined a bit to my daughter. “Why must I be the rock?”

She let me answer my own question.

This comes with being an elder, too, doesn’t it? Having lived through much and learned by experience I choose to hold space for those who matter most. I want to live and love with and through them – being there.

This isn’t all altruistic. My life has been enriched by these times of profound emotion. Sharing others’ questioning and loss has given me answers to my own dilemmas. It has  deepened my spiritual understanding and strengthened my connections to my own future. And it has woven my circle together with invisible bonds that can’t be broken.

Being a rock is a lesson, too. It identifies my cracks and fissures and teaches me self-care. I have taken myself to the breaking point and by necessity learned boundaries. I recognize physical and emotional exhaustion more quickly. Deep down I know when I must step back and restore myself, respecting my own limits.

Do I prefer not to experience loss? Of course. But I understand that the alternative is to skim along as an observer and not a participant. It is to miss the richness and fullness of life.

So, I live in gratitude and when necessary I wear the cloak of the elder.  I cherish life within my circle trying not to wonder what is coming tomorrow or the next day.

Blessings on your journey, Dan.





  1. You don’t have to be an elder to be assaulted by death. One after another my classmates are beginning to die and our group mail seems to be full of condolence messages. I attended my daughter in law’s late father’s first death anniversary ceremonies on Wednedsay. I am also currently reading Oliver Sacks’ On The Move and am reading again and again about death of various people. I cherish being alive and enjoy the presence in my life of other cherished and alive persons. That I will go one day as will these cherished people is taken for granted and I simply try and enjoy what comes my way on a day to day basis.

    Having got all that off my chest, the post is still a very poignant one and my compliments to you.


    • Yes, I agree. But death is much more inevitable in our circles at our age, don’t you think? My life certainly mirrors what you say. The cherishing of life and the people around us is what gives the days I have great value. Interesting that we are the same age and you don’t consider yourself an elder. I happily live in that guise. I feel vital – not old and decrepit, I just value my role.


  2. The Circle of Life, Death, and Learning – A Letter to my Children

    […]The administration or the designated particular person ought to attempt to get as much information as quickly as doable.[…]


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