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Home » Current Focus » Articles & Essays, 2008 » Insights from the Forum

Living with Mortality: Participant Insights

The Fifth Ikeda Forum for Intercultural Dialogue

Living with Mortality: How Our Experiences with Death Change us

September 20, 2008

For the morning session of the 5th Ikeda Forum for Intercultural Dialogue, co-convener Pam Kircher led a series of small group dialogues (in a format called World Cafe Dialogue) in which participants contemplated what they have learned from their experiences with death. After these small group discussions, participants were invited to share their insights with the whole group. The Center's Virginia Benson compiled the findings (see below) on flip charts as people spoke, and the sheets were posted in the room for the remainder of the day.

In her introduction to the dialogue session, facilitator Pam Kircher urged participants to speak from their hearts and to listen deeply. Three understandings should guide the exchanges, she said:

  • The wisdom we need is right here in this room.
  • Each of us has a piece of the wisdom.
  • As we weave our understandings together, more wisdom will emerge through developing patterns and insights.


Insights from the small group dialogues

Death is a mystery
It's important to talk about death
Realize that death is part of life
Death changes our perspective on life
Accept death – it's inevitable
Live as though you might die today
There is no one way to grieve
Unresolved grief lives through generations
The pain and suffering are not fair
It's wise to move beyond regret
Speak of the dead person freely
Grief can be an opportunity to learn
Friendship is important
Die nobly, so others can live fully
Mourning is not something to get over
Don’t invalidate experiences of dying that go beyond our understanding
Also, don't invalidate experiences of grieving that go beyond our understanding
Your attitude toward death determines how you live
Death can motivate living with purpose
Healing occurs through connection with others
Letting go can permit recovery

There is an element of choice in our appreciation of life
Sometimes no answers are forthcoming about the meaning of death
We're not judged by death, but by life
Life is always complete, which is a matter of perception
Death is harder on person left behind than for person who died

Long death is hard for the one dying; easier for others

Death brings peace to a human being
The good deeds of the departed live on with the living
All moments are big moments
The approach of death is an opportunity to connect with one's essence
Sudden death leaves no chance for goodbye
Be humanistic every day – whenever, wherever

Your words and actions can be a gift for another person's life




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