Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Key to Living A Better Life and Dying a Better Death

I have a dear friend whose adult son is facing life threatening health problems. I am deeply touched once again by an all-too familiar scene, in which each family member’s unresolved emotional issues, fears and frustrations have popped up and taken precedence over the opportunity to help their loved one and each other have a loving experience.

As a former hospice volunteer, and someone who assisted two siblings, my parents and my husband on their last life journeys, I have seen this experience from one extreme to the other and pretty much everything in between. Some individuals and families go through such hellish and emotionally painful anger, bitterness, denial, grief, guilt, as well as stress and strain that it overwhelms the process and often negatively taints the rest of their lives. Others somehow manage to have a sublime loving and spiritually enlightened experience for themselves and their loved one.

Since I was ten years old, and my best friend described her grandmother’s death in a way that I had never thought possible, I have sought an answer to how the latter is achieved – as well as an opportunity to live such a blessed experience with a loved one.

When my beloved husband became ill and I realized he was beginning the process that would end in death, something within me knew this was that time. Armed with the support of my dear friend, the international death and dying icon Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, and full book-knowledge of her lifework, I set an unwavering intention to help my husband through the death process in a way that was more loving and more spiritually enlightened.

But that was much easier said than accomplished. After many months of frustration and failure that resulted in emotional exhaustion, I reached out to Elisabeth and she encouraged me to turn within to seek inner guidance. She also told me to “Follow your heart, Fern. Your heart knows the way.” In desperation I did turn within, and I was led to a much deeper connection with my inner guidance, God.

I subsequently received the support and guidance I needed to heal some of my own unresolved issues – emotional baggage – as well as the fears I held around death and dying. By following the guidance, I was then able to be fully present for my husband on all levels, emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually.

This transformed my experience from one of intense sadness, frustration, doubt, fear and emotional exhaustion, to one of clarity, confidence, love and peace, which translated to our mutual joy and a deep, satisfying soul connection with my husband that remained constant throughout the process. What we lived was diametrically opposed to what many people experience in facing the death of a loved one. It also changed my life forever.

After my husband’s death, I was guided to allow the full mourning and grieving, as this would preclude any lingering sadness. This was absolutely true, and within the first year I realized that I was left with a great inner peace, a joyous anticipation of the future and a reaffirmation of life.

I shared the lessons I learned and all the events surrounding the lengthy decline and death of my beloved husband in my first book “The Heart Knows the Way – How to Follow Your Heart to a Conscious Connection with the Divine Spirit Within.” Since Elisabeth asked to read the manuscript before it was published, she gave the book her highest commendation and a wonderful endorsement.

I am so grateful to Elisabeth. I know that it was her lifework and support that inspired me to do what my soul knew was possible and to be fully present for my husband in a way that blessed us both and fulfilled my heart’s desire.

The insights I gained taught me that death is not meant to be the most feared life event, which is what tears many families apart when faced with such a situation. It is meant to be a sacred life passage that celebrates the continuity of life. The key to opening to that conscious awareness lies in coming to grips with our own unresolved life issues, as well as our fears surrounding death and dying. Once we clear our own emotional baggage and fears, the gift we receive is multi-faceted. We are then able to be fully present for a loved one when they face debilitating illness or death. We are also free to live a more meaningful and fulfilled life, and thus to die a better death.
Copyright © 2009 Fern Stewart Welch

The author conceived and served as executive editor and co-author of the recently released book “Tea with Elisabeth,” which is a tribute to the incredible life work of the late Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. This title and Welch’s earlier books are available at, other online booksellers, as well as through bookstore chains such as Barnes & Noble and Borders – and to the trade from Ingram Book Co., Baker & Taylor and other wholesalers.

Monday, July 13, 2009

What to Do When the Biggest Block to Our Happiness ... Is Us

I am a writer – a creative person – by profession and, I freely acknowledge, a highly sensitive person by nature. From what I know, this isn’t an out-of-the ordinary personality combination. What this has meant to me in everyday life is that kind words are like sunshine to a flower. And, conversely, any negative energy directed my way is like a physical blow, which can cause my energy to plummet along with my sense of self.

In the past, when the latter happened, I would dip into a victim mode that was as familiar as an old tape that had been replayed many, many times. My subconscious instantly sent out a message that said: Here it is again! Send her the same emotional responses. It didn’t matter what happened, when conflict arose, the result was the same. The situation automatically triggered all the bad thoughts I’d ever had about myself which confirmed that I was unworthy and unlovable. Then up came the same old feelings that ranged from anger, blame, grief and sadness to a sense of helplessness. The feelings were so powerful at times that it was impossible to focus on anything else.

Thankfully, I’ve learned that the emotional angst and pain we go through at those times is a message from our soul pushing us to learn a more healthful response and to grow through the issue. I also believe that when the same challenges occur repeatedly, we’re being told that this is an important lesson and we will continue attracting similar experiences until we learn the lesson and move beyond it.

As part of my desire to grow through this specific lesson, I adopted a process that has helped many people in similar situations. The key is to have a behavior program in place that supports us on all levels and sets the stage for success every day. The primary step is to start each morning with a 20 minute meditation. This centers us and balances our body, mind and spirit. If meditation isn’t desirable, we simply set our intention, go within, close our eyes and sit in silence. Focusing on a single word such as love, peace, joy, harmony or happiness often helps calm the mind. The important thing is to switch our focus from the external world and to get in touch with our inner selves, which is the starting place for everything that shows up in our lives.

Next, since it is fairly typical in our culture to view our lives as insignificant and our selves as unworthy of good, it is important that we consistently feed into our subconscious positive affirmations/statements that honor and value our worth. Each time we do this, it sets up a desired pattern in our subconscious that supports and increases our life force-energy. Those you write for yourself will be more powerful as they engage your energy, but here are some examples: I am enough. I am worthy. I love myself. I am peace. I am love. I am kindness. I am powerful.

No matter how simple and unimportant our life contributions may seem to us, every single thing we do is part of our sacred and heroic journey to fulfill our life purpose. Whether it is being a loving parent, being kind to others or showing up at a job every day to support our families, it is important and has meaning and worth. We must keep a ready list in our minds of our positive characteristics and traits and recall them often so that we are consistently supporting our core self instead of subconsciously sabotaging our sense of self and blocking our good.

Another good thing to recall often is that one of the rules of living on Earth is learning lessons and growing through life instead of just going through it. We are spiritual beings born into this life to have a human experience. This means we are not only inherently good – we are born with the power to create the lives we desire. What we create in the external world, and whether it is desirable or undesirable, lets us know if our life force is high or low and how successfully we are managing it.

If we continue to become conscious and aware of our life force-energy and to maintain it at a higher level, we find that undesirable situations aren’t popping up as often. When they do come up, we recognize them for the gift they are, another opportunity to grow, which is the only reason we are here. And what an incredible and desirable change – from unconsciously blocking our own happiness to being part of the solution.
Copyright © 2009 by Fern Stewart Welch

The author served as executive editor and co-author of the recently-released book, “Tea with Elisabeth.” Her other books include: “You Can Live A Balanced Life In An Unbalanced World!” and “The Heart Knows the Way – How to Follow Your Heart to a Conscious Connection with the Divine Spirit Within.” All are available at and other online booksellers.