The Picturing Death Project Journal Entries from 1999-2003

The simple but effective structure for the Picturing Death Project, a cast glass table, four chairs, and journals, provide a structure for journal writing with 4 questions that help participants examine how we will choose to live with the knowledge that death is inevitable. Currently, the project table, chairs and journals reside at Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan in Kalamazoo.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Journal Entry 643


Upon my death, I will float up above my body & looking down decide whether to return to the seed husk of my body or to continue upward like a vine stretching to the sunlight.

Native cultures believe the deceased spends a year after death traveling to friends & family collecting their troubles and sorrows, taking them to the Great Spirit.

Others feel that the one who has died is almost present for @ 4 months during which time they may be perceived by family & friends.

I very much like these ideas. I imagine being close my family & friend, bringing love & comfort to them.

After I cross over into the tunnel of light I'd expect to be met - at this point, by my mother &/or grandmother or my dad. In a recent dream, my mother drove up to our house & as I walked her to the front door many others followed creating a jam at our front door. As we went into the house it because her house with many rooms, a huge meal laid out on the dining room table & with her friends all around. Many women all greeting us with pleasure. I thought of the Biblical saying & transliterated to. In my mother's mansion there are many rooms.


After talking to my sister who was at the hospital with my mother in Cleveland, i gathered up my 7 month old first born & walked around our rural house keening. I didn't plan or think of what I was doing. I just knew mummy was dying, my baby comforted me & I wailed loudly, never fearing the neighbors would hear nor what they would think. I did not know she had died at about that time & when I finally got to Cleveland, my sisters met me at the airport & we went to the restaurant for a meal, they said our dad would be there soon. I remember asking him "why are you here & not with mummy?" I figured she had died shortly after I had circled our hill top farm house, wailing & weeping.

Later that summer Elizabeth Kubler Ross conducted a workshop at Nazareth college & I went to hear her speak. I handed my baby over to college students to watch & was greatly cheered by Ross' discussion & her work in death & dying in the 5 stages of grief.

I have since read most of Michael Newton's books & find his cosmology of after life so warm & comforting. I seem to know instinctively his view based on the stories of his patients to be appropriate to my own view of life after death.

Funny how the Catholic church now says "no purgatory" as I have always found it inconsistent.

After my father died, we rode to the cemetery in a huge car. It was chilly but we rolled the windows down & sang songs we all remembered from childhood & told stories of the animal drive to trust us all (???) I hope her laughter & songs did not shock out driver.


As I grow older, I have a sense of privilege and feel I owe a debt to humanity. I seek a task a project that allows me to give back to others.

I look forward to complete understanding of the mysteries of this life & many of those of the afterlife.

I expect to return again to complete anything I have not finished in this life - as my current life has allowed me to right wrongs of my previous existence.


I fear pain. It would be a great lie to say otherwise. And dementia & a lingering death.

My hope is for a death of dignity & joy for those I leave behind.

I hope my friends & family gather for a very fine wake - in fact my children will be so instructed! Good food, good drink & lots of marvelous stories to celebrate my passing.

I expect to attend as a guest & enjoy those who attend.

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