It was the best of times, it was the worst….

Wait that sounds familiar! Sometimes we writers read so much that we forget what we haven’t written ourselves. With apologies to Mr. Dickens, that turn of phrase does describe my point of view though.

Each of us has a story as unique as a snowflake, and as fragile and beautiful. As I age, I find myself more in tune with the stories of others; not just their circumstance, but their struggle, their motivation, their inspiration. A wise friend explained the difference between sympathy and empathy to me like this: Sympathy is when you lose a child and someone says “At least you have other kids” or “At least you are young enough to have another baby” whereas Empathy is when you lose a child and someone says “That must be really painful” or “Tell me about that” or even “Here is a hug and a cookie”.

I take great joy in looking at the beauty and brevity of life. Being a funeral director is a constant reminder that none of us is promised a sunny tomorrow, but that even when the worst happens, human beings have a tremendous capacity for comfort and caring. In talking about life and its eventual ending, we level the playing field as we all share the same fate and we all live in its shadow.

In the coming months, I hope to speak with many of you and hear your stories about life and death. I plan to have workshops on obituary writing (your own or someone else’s), eulogy writing (mostly someone else’s) and how to talk about death (spoiler alert: it happens to everyone!)

I will be at the Racine Arts Council office at 409-6th Street in downtown Racine on Mondays from 9 a.m. until noon, Fridays from 10 a.m. until noon and on Saturdays from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. If you would like to chat with me about death or writing or comedy or music or theater, please drop me a note here so I will be expecting you during any of those times!

Workshop dates will be forthcoming in my next blog post, and in the meantime, get out there and explore the Arts!

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