David Kessler is the director of Palliative Care for Citrus Valley Hospice in West Covina and co-author of LIFE -LESSONS: Two experts on death and dying teach us about the mysteries of life and living, with Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. Amazon named it one of the best spiritual books of the year.
A forty-one-year-old woman remembered an uneventful evening she and her husband had spent several months ago. They ate a simple dinner, then watched TV. About 9pm he said his stomach was upset and he was going to turn in early. She kissed him good-night, saying she would be in a little later and hoped he would feel better in the morning. An hour later, she went to bed, her husband was fast asleep.
As soon as she awoke the next morning, she knew something was wrong. “I could just feel it,” she said. “I looked over and I knew Kevin was gone. He died in his sleep of a heart attack at age forty-four.”
Now, she says, this heartbreaking experience has taught her not to take relationships, people, or time for granted. “After Kevin died, I looked back at our lives and saw everything so differently. That was our last kiss, our last meal, our last vacation, our last hug, and our last laugh together. I realized you never know, until after the fact, which was the last evening out, the last Thanksgiving. And there will be ‘lasts’ in all relationships. I want to look back on all those events and feel like I did my best to be fully present, not just half there. I understand that Kevin was a gift I could keep for a while, but not forever. This is true for everyone I meet. Knowing this makes me take in these moments and people even more.”
We will have many relationships in our lifetimes. Some––spouses, significant others, friends––we choose, while others, such as parents and siblings, are chosen for us.
Relationships offer us the biggest opportunities for learning lessons in life, for discovering who we are, what we fear, where our power comes from, and the meaning of true love. The idea that relationships are great learning opportunities may seem odd at first, because we know that they can be frustrating, challenging even heartbreaking experiences. But they can also be, and often are, our greatest opportunities to learn, grow, love, and be loved.
We tend to think that we have relationships with relatively few people, primarily our spouses or significant others. The truth is that we have relationships with everybody we meet, be they friends, relatives, coworkers, teachers, or clerks. We have relationships with the doctors we see only once a year and the annoying neighbors we do our best to avoid. These are all relationships, individual in their own ways yet sharing many characteristics because they emanate from us. You are the common denominator in every single one of your relationships, from the closest and most intense to the most distant. the attitudes you bring to one relationship––positive or negative, hopeful or hateful––you bring to them all. You have the choice of bringing a little or a lot of love to each of your relationships.
Hospice & Bereavement Services
Citrus Valley Health Partners
820 N. Phillips Ave, West Covina, CA 91791
These classes are free, but you must
pre-register. 626-814-2479 / 888-456-2847
Hospice Open House
Tour the Citrus Valley Hospice Facility.
• Thur / 2-4pm
Children ages 7-11 will learn how to cope with the loss of a loved one.
• Call number above for more info.
adolescent ages 12-17 will learn how to cope with the loss of a loved one.
• Call number above for more info.
Road to Survival
A support group for those who have experienced the loss of a loved one.
David Kessler has helped thousands face life and death with peace, dignity and courage. His experiences have taken him from Auschwitz concentration camp to Mother Teresa’s Home for the Dying in Calcutta. David teaches therapists, doctors and nurses on grief and loss and leads a support group for people with cancer.