How Living with Death Will Make You Stronger, Wiser, and Fearless
Margaret Meloni is the author of Carpooling with Death: How Living with Death Will Make You Stronger, Wiser, and Fearless. She talks about why she decided to write a book about death. She gives valuable insights into talking about death and accepting the impermanence of life. Especially if you have someone going through a terminal illness, this book is a must-read!
What We Discuss with Margaret Meloni:
- What prompted Margaret to write a book about death
- Why most people are not prepared for death
- Having an out-of-body experience
- Everyone has their own opinion on what you should do when a loved one dies
- How to have open conversations about death
- What she learned from Buddhism
- Things happen to us and it’s nothing personal
- How you can befriend death
- The value of reevaluating relationships
- Margaret’s book writing process – the challenges and triumphs
[00:41] What Prompted Margaret to Write a Book About Death
Margaret came up with this idea when she realized people close to her were starting to die. And by the time she actually wrote it, people close to her had already died.
Unfortunately, we don’t talk about death a lot in our culture when, in fact, we’re all going to go through it.
We lose people we love but we’re unprepared. And friends who want to help us would not necessarily know how to help us get through it.
This book is her way of saying that we should talk about death just like we talk about other things in life.
[03:20] When People Are Trying to Console You
When the person closest to you dies is the moment you’d think that this is the time of your life where it can be about you. But some people make it about themselves.
Everyone means well, but people have so much stuff that when you go through something difficult, it makes them face something difficult.
Everyone has their opinions of what you should and shouldn’t do. But we’ve got different traditions, so you need to respect that.
[07:10] How to Have Open Conversations About Death
If you’re going through a terminal illness with a loved one, it’s very helpful to acknowledge what you’re going through and that it’s going to end in you dying, and talk about how you want that time to be, and what do you want.
The more you know ahead of time, the easier it is.
Margaret recalls her parents explaining to her how they wanted everything to be once they died. True enough, her mom died five days before her husband died.
[10:52] The Things Margaret Learned from Buddhism
Impermanence: Everything is going to change. Everything that arises ceases. And this is applicable to all things. And when you follow the teaching all the way through it’s fullest potential, it also means we are going away. You live and you die.
These things happen to us and it’s nothing personal. Of course, when you lose people you love, it feels very personal. But it’s a constant reminder to not attach ourselves to things.
Clinging on to something causes more suffering. We suffer because we attach to something. The more we do that, the more we suffer.
[14:25] Befriending Death
Acknowledge that death is going to happen. So either resist or get as ready as possible.
You can still be sad and you’re still going to miss everyone. But it’s about getting to that place of knowing.
[17:35] Reevaluating Friendships
Human beings have their own boundaries.
Margaret admits having undergone a period of resentment against people, feeling they could have been more helpful. But through meditation, she was able to process whether they’re people she’s willing to let go of.
We have to be so picky about who we surround ourselves with.
Meditate on sending compassion to other people.
[21:50] The Book Writing Process
Margaret has always wanted to write a book and seeing her situation, she realized it was something she can immerse herself in and she felt really strongly about.
She wanted to bring out the message – not that it’s new but to be able to bring a different angle and perspective.
Write what makes sense to you on that day, and writing would be more joyful!
Reaching wordcount and self-doubt were among the hardest challenges she had to face.
What was so exciting for her was getting the final copy realizing it’s really going to happen!
[30:30] Why You Need to Get This Book
If you have someone going through terminal illness, this book would help you get ready and go through that journey.
If you know someone going through a loss, make sure to read this book so you’d know what to do.
If you’re at a point in your life where you’re dancing around the concept of death and you’re afraid, this book can definitely help give you a different, broader perspective.