On Death and Dying… From Regret to REBIRTH

A week ago was the passing of one of the most important role models of my life – a woman who who meant so much to me and to so many. A woman who adopted me like her very own daughter, my Mother-in-Law, LaVerne Tiebens. I will never forget our Afternoon Teas when she would come for a visit from Louisville, KY, and how she took great care of me for 2 weeks straight when I was bedridden in the early days of my pregnancy with Garrett. We spent 18 wonderful years of laughter, tears, wisdom and formed new and special traditions.

LaVerne Tiebens was more than that to me, she was a friend, a trusted confidant and incredible role model of tenacity, patience, thoughtfulness and generosity. I will always be grateful for her UNCONDITIONAL LOVE – for loving me like her very own.

My husband Gary, her youngest of 6 children was hit very hard. Only a month prior to her passing, he was able to travel to Louisville and take her out to lunch.  It was a real shock for us that she left so suddenly.  We all didn’t know what to feel. We comforted each other but at times we just wanted to have time by ourselves. Gary simply wanted to be left alone as Garrett and I just cried in the other room. We would occasionally check up on Gary to see if he needs us to be there or if he wants to eat or if we can get him anything. There was nothing we could do at that point. He needed to go through the initial shock in his own way. Conversations from out of town siblings brought comfort but also more tears as they console each other on the phone. Calls from well meaning friends and family started pouring in and were mostly unanswered as we literally just want to be left alone and celebrate her life.

My heart was broken but I did my best to stay strong for everybody.  Garrett had many questions and kept talking about his memories of Granny.  One such memory is that every time Granny would say, “I love you” to Garrett, he would always reply with, “I love you more, Granny.”

I posted a photo of LaVerne and I on Facebook and felt immediately enveloped by love and prayers from hundreds of my social media friends! We were really touched by your intentions and it brought us immeasurable comfort and relief. So many thoughts having going in and out of my mind and heart for the past few days, mourning the loss of someone so special to me. I truly appreciate each and everyone of you who has left your condolences and prayers for her and our family. I know how inconvenient that must be to be “pinged” every time someone makes a new comment, so my special THANK YOU!

When someone dear to us transitions to the next life, it couldn’t help bring back the thought of the shortness and fragility of this temporary time-space reality we call LIFE. Having been raised a Catholic/Christian and having awareness of Universal Principles, many thoughts come to mind and these are some of the questions our 11-year old son Garrett and I asked me:

“Is she already in heaven?”

“When did she get there?”

“I wonder if she sees me right now… ”

“I hope I was able to let her know how much she means to me.”

“I wonder if she’s now dancing with “Pops” Bob in heaven.”

“Is God really cradling her in her arms?”

“I wonder if she will show herself to us in a dream to say good-bye?”

“Did the angels welcome her with fanfare and glorious trumpet sounds?”

“I hope she didn’t feel pain or struggled as she was transitioning.”

“I wonder how she looks in heaven? Does she look her age or did she go back to her 20s?”

We lit candles and created a mini-altar on our breakfast nook and honored her life with this photo montage I made of him and Gary goofing around during a photo shoot a few years ago.  Since she is Louisville, KY, we couldn’t all be there to be with the family.  One of the first things we did was to get on the computer and searched for all the pictures we had of her and started re-living joyful memories of her. It was such a revelation to see family photos that we have almost forgotten about. We sifted – and are still sifting through – thousands and thousands of photos. It was like a fast trip down memory lane which also made me flash back in my very own life.

Death and dying has been a topic of great interest for many people since life began. Some people fear death, while others who are daring enough, welcome it. Ironically, a couple of nights ago, I saw the movie “The Book Thief” – a movie about the holocaust and a girl named Liesel Meminger. It was narrated by the “Death Angel” himself who spoke about how humans are haunted by death but in rare occasions, he too is haunted by humans and their tenacity, courage and strength of spirit.

It’s comforting for most people to know that their loved one has gone to heaven to be with God – their Creator – and also reunite with their loved ones who have already gone before them so they can live in peace, love and joy throughout eternity. Not to mention that they can prepare a spot for us when it’s our turn to come home.

Some people who believe that we are all extensions of Source believe that death is one of the most beautiful things that could happen to us as through death, we go back to pure positive energy – the same energy we were before we made a decision to come forth and experience life – to create more contrasts and expansion that has specific and collective effects in universal consciousness as a whole.

When my Dad passed away 2 years ago, I came to terms with my own grief. That was a time filled with regrets for me as I didn’t get to see him for 5 years prior to his passing. What was memorable for me then was the outpouring of love that I received from family and friends both offline and online. It was almost mind-blowing! My family was enveloped in love and prayers and the energy was incredible! The goodness of people shone through and it was clear that some of the most powerful human emotions we have are:





It’s quite remarkable that many people who wouldn’t even dare leave a comment in and around social media have gone out of their way to leave their comment and sympathies. It still moves me to tears to this day.

So here are some of my thoughts on “Why I Believe Death and Dying Are A Big Deal”:

1) Death reminds people of the reality that one day, either them or their loved ones will die too.

2) Dying seems to be quite mysterious and people somethings think of how they will transition from here to their own heaven or other places they would like to go.

3) Death is perceived to be a painful experience for the departed and there is sorrow in the thought of having someone go through suffering.

4) Dying signifies the end for some people while it signifies the beginning for some.

5) People often wonder about the pain those who have been left behind must be going through and empathy is a most remarkable human emotion.

6) Dying conjures up thoughts of possible regrets. We all have the best intentions to let people know how much we love them and through the busy-ness of life, we sometimes forget to do that.

7) Death reminds us of what’s truly important in this life – relationships with people – not the money, fame or success we are exchanging our waking moments for.

8) Dying brings up the thought of us consciously choosing to live our lives to the fullest and best of our abilities and using our God-given gifts to better our lives and others.

9) Death brings families closer, to comfort each other and to temporarily put indifferences aside to honor their beloved departed.

10) Dying wakes us up to second chances – a reminder that through death, there’s a rebirth – a rebirth of ideas, of awakening emotions, of forgiveness, of forgetting ill intentions and conflicts. Dying reminds us of the pure positive energy we all possessed even prior to being born in this life and that is PURE LOVE.

We go from thinking of possible REGRETS and shifting that to REBIRTH.

In closing, I believe that Death and Dying awakens our deep seated connection to God/Source/Universe. While there are many beliefs, values and traditions revolving around this it is rather clear that at most of us want to be remembered – to leave an unforgettable legacy so to speak. To know that we have lived our lives with SUCCESS, SATISFACTION and SIGNIFICANCE.  Now more than ever, I am passionate to help those who I am blessed to come in contact with, the ability to have the awareness of living a life in full expression of their gifts and the ability to meaningfully monetize their Message, Mission and Mastery so they don’t pass away with “the music and stories buried and left in their hearts.

LaVerne left behind 6 children, 4 children-in-law, myself included – and 22 grandchildren and great-grandchildren . My love and deepest condolences to the Tiebens Family of Louisville, Kentucky who has “adopted” me for the past 18 years. Our hearts are hurting and will be hurting for a while, but we send her off with loving prayers and positive and joyful intentions knowing that she’s now HOME to be with God – our Creator, our Source and our beloved “Pops” Bob… We thank you in advance for your prayers and love… I know she would want us to find JOY in everything and continue to celebrate LIFE!

I remember when LaVerne and I would sing the song “Make Me A Channel of Your Peace” by St. Francis de Assisi. I honor her with this song because LaVerne lived the message of this song, day in and day out. She remains to be one of my heroes and I know she knows I love and adore her and I look forward to the day when we’ll get to see each other again, have tea and share lots of laughter!

“I love you, Mumsy… your memory will forever remain in my heart and I will continue to share your story of peaceful courage and love. I will write the book you’ve always wanted to write for your family… I promise – your legacy will live on…”

“Prayer of St. Francis de Assisi”

Make me a channel of your peace.
Where there is hatred let me bring your love,
Where there is injury, your pardon, Lord;
Where there is doubt true faith in you.

Make me a channel of your peace.
Where there’s despair in life, let me bring hope.
Where there is darkness only light,
And where there is sadness ever joy.

Oh Master grand that I may never seek,
So much to be controlled as to control,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved, as to love, with all my soul.

Make me a channel of your peace.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.
In giving of ourselves that we receive,
And in dying that we are born to eternal life.

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