Participant Insights

5th Ikeda Forum for Intercultural Dialogue
Living With Mortality: How Our Experience With Death Change Us

For the morning session of the 5th Ikeda Forum for Intercultural Dialogue, co-convener Pam Kircher led a series of small group dialogues (in a format called World Cafe Dialogue) in which participants contemplated what they have learned from their experiences with death. After these small group discussions, participants were invited to share their insights with the whole group. The Center's Virginia Benson compiled the findings (see below) on flip charts as people spoke, and the sheets were posted in the room for the remainder of the day.

In her introduction to the dialogue session, facilitator Pam Kircher urged participants to speak from their hearts and to listen deeply. Three understandings should guide the exchanges, she said:

  1. The wisdom we need is right here in this room.
  2. Each of us has a piece of the wisdom.
  3. As we weave our understandings together, more wisdom will emerge through developing patterns and insights.

Insights from the small group dialogues

Death is a mystery

It's important to talk about death

Realize that death is part of life

Death changes our perspective on life

Accept death – it's inevitable

Live as though you might die today

There is no one way to grieve

Unresolved grief lives through generations

The pain and suffering are not fair

It's wise to move beyond regret

Speak of the dead person freely

Grief can be an opportunity to learn

Friendship is important

Die nobly, so others can live fully

Mourning is not something to get over

Don’t invalidate experiences of dying that go beyond our understanding

Also, don't invalidate experiences of grieving that go beyond our understanding

Your attitude toward death determines how you live

Death can motivate living with purpose

Healing occurs through connection with others

Letting go can permit recovery

There is an element of choice in our appreciation of life

Sometimes no answers are forthcoming about the meaning of death

We're not judged by death, but by life

Life is always complete, which is a matter of perception

Death is harder on person left behind than for person who died

Long death is hard for the one dying; easier for others

Death brings peace to a human being

The good deeds of the departed live on with the living

All moments are big moments

The approach of death is an opportunity to connect with one's essence

Sudden death leaves no chance for goodbye

Be humanistic every day – whenever, wherever

Your words and actions can be a gift for another person's life


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