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Mindful : June 2017
rarely in control of such catastrophes, of the twists and turns of fate, and most especially not of our deaths. In her humility, Janet understood that she could only be saved from this inexplicable hor- ror by accepting it. She said to herself, I need to take my share of responsibility in order not to live a life full of shame and blame. She found a middle ground, one without unnecessary inter- nalizing (“It’s all my fault”) or externalizing (“It’s all his fault”). There were still years of grief work to be done, pain to be felt, anger toward the driver, herself, and even Jack for dying. It all had to be reckoned with, and it took courage to face it directly. But Janet recognized the importance of meeting her suffering if she ever was to have a good life again. Her small rural community of Mormons, Mennonites, old-timers, and hippies helped her to heal. A bouquet of flowers would appear on her doorstep one day, a basket of fresh eggs the next. Janet told me later that being with her grief opened her to a new level of love. For a while, she lived with the fear of the absolute precariousness of life, warning other young mothers of dangers to their children that they might not recognize. In time and with attention, however, her heart cracked wide open. Her relationship to the precariousness of life transformed, giving rise to gratitude and a sense of being fully alive. Now she would not turn away from any part of life. Her marriage didn’t survive the trauma of Jack’s death, but Janet did. She went on to become one of the most amazing hospice professionals I know. She has taught hundreds of volunteers and family caregivers how to live with grief and accompany death. She is the per- son her community calls to stand beside parents when there are sudden or traumatic deaths of children. Jack made all that possible. And Janet, as she had vowed to herself, honored his life by not letting his tragic death destroy her. It is a kind of resilience we all possess, and can dis- cover, if we allow ourselves to take off the magic towel and look at what lies within. ● Adapted from the book The Five Invitations by Frank Ostaseski. Copyright © 2017 by Frank Ostaseski. Reprinted with permission f rom Flatiron Books. All rights reserved. 78 mindful June 2017 HOLLYB.ROGERS,MDlifeskillstohandlestress...&everythingelseBASEDONTHEPOPULARKORUMINDFULNESSPROGRAMTheMindfulTwenty-Something