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  • Gary

Embrace Death



I’ve been deliberating for a couple weeks now how to say this. I’ve listened to friends, family members, clients, and nature as I pressed “pause” on my urge to speak. I now feel ready to share. You’re welcome to feel whatever you feel as you read this.


I’m not bothered by coronavirus. Might I or someone I love die by it? Yes. And how do I feel about that? I will be hysterical with grief if someone I love dies, whether by the virus or by anything else. And, I’m okay with that because I’m okay with grief. I’m okay with coronavirus because I’m okay with death and I’m good at grieving.


It’s a long story how this has come to be, but here’s the gist: my father was suddenly, violently killed when I was 7 years old. I’ve borne grief now for 33 years of my life. Grief tyrannized me for most of my life in part because I didn’t know how to grief. No one had taught me how. How can it be fair for someone I love and depend on for life to suddenly disappear? I still see the small wrinkles around my father’s eyes as he lay in the casket, and I can still feel the torrential oceans of agony erupt from my soul as I hugged his body, motionless and cold in the casket. After Dad’s death, I committed to zipping myself up, performing above the standard, and clenching my pain deep, deep inside.


For years I searched to repair my relationship to death. I threw myself into ridiculously dangerous situations. I went to the ER more than once. I was rescued by a lifeguard. I was picked up off the streets by strangers after motorcycle accidents. I pushed limits with drugs and alcohol. I have written two or three living wills. Yet, death wouldn’t take me. In retrospect, my brushes with death helped me in a way, but not enough.


What really helped was learning how to grieve. My graduate program in counseling was a major contributor to my education on how to relate to matters of my heart. Martin Prechtel taught me how to let my grief flow, rage, roar, weep, and long. I don’t fear grief anymore. In fact, I grieve something or someone every day. I grieve every day as I ponder the end of my life, the inevitable separation of myself from my fiancé, the loss of my siblings and mother, and the daily loss of species and habitat across the planet. My friends, grief is closer to me than my own breath. And my life is the richer because of it.

One fortuitous side effect of my embrace of death is my stability despite the current societal panic, economic collapse, and global disease. But more than this, I FEEL ALIVE. Death take me as you see fit, but today, today I LIVE! I am eating delicious food, feeling the massage of walking my bones in the sunshine, absorbing the sweetness of my woman’s beauty, letting the blue sky touch my innermost eye, running my fingers through my dog’s soft fur, being emotionally moved by the heart felt sharing of my clients, telling my mother how much I love her. My friend, you will die. And that is okay. But today you live, so live!


Viruses have always been and probably always will be. They too, are one of God’s/Nature’s creations and so, too, have just as much right to exist. Sickness and death are just another part of the Earth’s design.


It is time for us to awaken to the power and goodness of grief. Grief is nothing to fear. On the contrary- it is something to seek! All the loves you have lost- cry for them now! All the life you will never live again- cry for it now! The Earth and its plants, animals, and people are dying- cry for them now! Let your cries fill the heavens! Let your anguish resonate through your apartment, your house, your neighborhood! Let it be known to all that you LOVE and that it hurts like holy hell to LOSE!


I promise you that life begins when you let death in. Coronavirus or not, death will claim us all, and this is good. Were it not so, we would never live. Coronavirus is a gift. It is a call to not avoid death; it is a call to fully LIVE NOW.





I'm here to connect with you in person at my office, on the land, or via online video. You don't have to deal with it alone. You can come out of your struggle stronger than ever. If you would like to schedule with me, I'm happy to chat and see if and how I can help.

Gary Howard, MA, LPC
260-445-8249
contact@wildwaysintegration.com
1650 38th St.
Suite 100E
Boulder, CO 80301

© 2020 Wild Ways Integration, LLC