Today I have the pleasure of sharing a fascinating interview with Jane Duncan Rogers, author of “Gifted by Grief.”
“Gifted by Grief” is an inspiring story. Dealing with grief and loss after the passing of her beloved husband Phillip, was the catalyst that helped Jane find herself and connect more deeply to her purpose and passion for living her own life. It’s an amazing book that motivates people to live up to their full potential and a guide to help those who are grieving navigate those dark waters. –Angela Artemis
Read the full interview or listen to it. To listen click on the Audio Player below:
I always knew I would write about this experience. Well, I was already writing about it in my journal, from day one of Philip’s diagnosis, just like I’d been writing in my journal since I was in my teens.
I also knew I needed to wait until the time was right – and I knew that the time would be right when I felt utterly compelled to do it. Sure enough, that’s what happened, and one morning on holiday when I was ill and had to stay in bed, I created a MindMap of the outline. It surprised me when I got home that I didn’t immediately start writing! But I trusted that I would know, and sure enough, in a few months, again on holiday, I woke one morning and just knew the time was right.
It was a huge shock initially. It prompted a long conversation between us which led to us feeling closer than we had done for ages. Philip made some significant changes in his life which I could see were benefitting him but they benefitted me too. That’s why in the end we were able to be grateful for what cancer had brought, even though by that time we knew he would die from it. Strange paradox that, but it’s true.
- There’s a story in the book about The List – can you tell me more about that?
We’d received an email from a friend of ours insisting we address various questions about the end of life. They were quite pointed some of them, like what kind of coffin do you want, what personal items do you want to leave to anyone in particular, and did I know Philip’s user names and passwords. We resisted doing this for quite a while but eventually I pinned Philip down and we answered them together. It was hard, but in the end, after a couple of hours we were done, and we felt great. It was another thing that created great intimacy, which was wonderful. It felt like our last project together – although now I think this book is the last project!
- For most people their journals are very private. Yet you have shared intimately from them. How do you feel about that now it’s in print?
Well, I feel very strongly about bringing grief out of the closet, so to speak. As baby boomers get older, there is quite a lot around now about death and dying, but not so much that focuses on grief, and the effects of that.
One of the effects of the book is that you get an insight into the minds of both myself as the carer and survivor, and Philip as the patient (through his blog entries). I hope this will help readers to understand that though the feelings may be strong, you CAN get through this. Also I hope it will help people who are grieving to not hide away. I read about so many people who feel they have to pretend that they are all right. I rarely did that, and I was lucky in that I had friends who encouraged me to express how I felt in the moment. That’s how I discovered that if you just let whatever feeling be there, it will go, and usually quite quickly. It’s the ‘trying not to have it’ that actually keeps it there.
6. Tell me about “The Listening?”
The Listening was a kind of channeled writing that had been coming through me for several years previously. One day I was out walking, railing at God because I wasn’t able to have children. Suddenly I heard a ‘voice’ telling me ‘You are not meant to have children in this life; your life is purely a spiritual one’. I was amazed. Over time a relationship with this voice developed, and I discovered it was easiest to hear it if I was writing the words down. By now these were words that I saw in my mind’s eye. I have journals full of them, and they are always, unfailingly, loving and truthful. Here’s an example from my book, about 15 months after my husband had died:
“Death is but a passing from one form to another without fear or clinging. As easy as moving through a doorway from one room to another, and as lacking in fear. So come to this doorway when you are ready to anoint and bless your true Self. Stillness is the secret passage through which this journey is made, and indeed is what life is made of, in essence.”
As you can imagine, I found The Listening very helpful during this time.
- There was a very strong impact for you when Philip actually died, and you saw only a ‘dead body’. It’s not like that for everyone, is it? So how can you relate to others who maybe still see their loved ones as being a body?
It shocked me, that. I had seen one dead body before and I knew from that experience that you can see the life force has disappeared. But what was really amazing about that time was how disinterested I was in his body. That helped in then exploring what IS in this body that is sitting talking to you now. Which as you know set me off on quite a journey!
If others are relating still to their loved ones as if they were a body that is no longer here, that’s fine, so long as it isn’t causing complicated stress or stopping them from thriving in their lives. It’s too easy with grief to get stuck, and when that happens you need a helping hand to get you out, even if you feel ambivalent about it.
- What should people do if they feel they are stuck in grief?
When you’re hit by grief, it’s often a shock even if you knew what to expect (that happened to me) and then you have to adjust to a new situation. Eventually you get used to that situation, even if you don’t like it much. That in itself then becomes familiar over time, and when something has become familiar it can be easy to want to stay there, even if you are hurting still.
If you’re stuck and you know it, then that is the most important thing. Because then little by little you can take steps to get out of the hole of grief. But you may have become used to this new situation and its become familiar, but you know you’re not happy and thriving. Well, the obvious answer to this is that you want your loved one back and then everything will be all right.
I had personal counseling and coaching which helped me, but I also had my own background of therapeutic training which helped me realize what was going on. I never wanted to join a group – the others’ pain was too much for me, and then when I began to feel stronger, I didn’t have the need for it. So – get support is my answer in short!
- Tell me more about the shift that happened for you when you realized you are peace itself.
Well, everything looks the same and yet is experienced quite differently. Not all the time, but most of the time. Result – I am much more relaxed, at peace, able to move easily throughout life, have relationships with people.
The effect of it is that the dramas of life simply are not so important any more. People who are bereaved often say this, but in this case, it’s nearly 4 years now and they are still not very important. It’s like the dramas of an individual life are stories in a story book – to be read, enjoyed, but not really believed as the truth. When you can view your own life and that of others like that, and you know that you really are the peace that underlies all these stories, then you become much less attached to how the story turns out. Which makes for a much more peaceful life!
- Most people would think that a happy ending to the death of a spouse would be meeting someone else that you can fall in love with (without forgetting your previous spouse, of course). That’s not your happy ending – or is there something you’re not telling us?!
When you’re dependent on something or someone outside of you, then there will inevitably be loss at some point. What you think you can get from the outside and bring to your inside is always, by definition, transitory. It’s only when you turn that upside down, and focus on coming from inside towards the outer, that you discover experiences and a sense of who you truly are. And who you truly are has never begun, never ends, is always there. It flows through a body called Jane or Angela, for instance, but it never goes away.
That seems to me to be much more valuable than meeting another man! And yet – I’m living at a practical level too, and so it would be great to meet someone.
- What can listeners do if they want to know more about you and your work?
Visit my website www.giftedbygrief.com where they will be able to download the prologue and first two chapters. And then buy on Amazon, where it is discounted for your readers only from Monday 19th October – Friday 23rd, making it just $2.99 instead of $8.80.
Join my Facebook group – go to Facebook and put in Gifted By Grief and you’ll find it
Email me firstname.lastname@example.org to tell me if you are interested in joining a group to get your own copy of The List done.
Want to meet me? I’d love to meet you in person.
Come on out to the Awaken Wellness Fair
November 22, 2015 where I’m speaking. Click here for details.
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