Death and Resurrection
A Seven-Day Residential Workshop
Illuminate Your Life By Facing The Reality Of Your Death.
Why on earth, you might ask yourself, should I (or anyone) do a workshop on death? In the introduction to his book Staring at the Sun (Jossey Bass 2008, 2009) the eminent psychotherapist Irvin D. Yalom provides an eloquent answer: “Why … take on this unpleasant, frightening subject? Why stare into the sun? Why not follow the advice of the venerable dean of American psychiatry, Adolph Meyer, who, a century ago, cautioned psychiatrists, “Don’t scratch where it doesn’t itch”? Why grapple with the most terrible, the darkest and most unchangeable aspect of life?”
Death, however does itch, it itches all the time, it is always with us, scratching at some inner door, whirring softly, barely audibly, just under the membrane of consciousness. Hidden and disguised, leaking out in a variety of symptoms, it is the wellspring of many of our worries, stresses, and conflicts.
I feel strongly – as a man who will himself die one day in the not-too-distant future and as a psychiatrist who has spent decades dealing with death anxiety – that confronting death allows us, not to open some noisome Pandora’s box, but to reenter life in a richer, more compassionate manner.” Staring death in the face, Yalom believes, will “not only ameliorate terror but enrich your life.”
The significant extension of lifespan and increased privacy of death that is an importrant characteristic of the prosperous western world since the late 19th century should not allow us to forget that things are still starkly different for the majority of the world’s population. It also comes with a significant psychological price-tag. It is now so much easier for us to banish the reality of death and, especially, of our own death to some vaguely-imagined and – naturally – comfortably distant future. For much of the time we can manage not to think about our death at all and many of us almost never talk about it. Outwardly (and, sometimes, even inwardly) we live our lives as if we were immortal. Psychologically, this avoidance of such an important feature of our lives is really unhelpful, given the inevitability, the unpredictability and the overwhelming significance – to us, at least – of our own death.
The ‘Death and Resurrection’ workshop offers you an opportunity to:
• Confront your own death, the ultimate taboo of today’s culture.
• Explore ways to move creatively through life’s transitions, letting go of what binds you negatively to the past while courageously welcoming the future.
• Use a combination of ritual and Gestalt process to prepare for your death by reviewing your life, completing unfinished business, writing your will and planning your own funeral.
• Examine your life process with a focus on its ending, discovering what is – and what is not – genuinely important to you and illuminating the true meaning of your existence.
• Gradually let go of your attachments to persons, things, and self-images until, at last, you are able to die and then be reborn to create a new life the way that you wish.
• Discover how you might complete your life beyond the workshop so that you can go forward towards your eventual death, seeing it not as an interruption, but as a fulfilment of all that has gone before.
Before 1988, Paul Rebillot offered his ‘Death and Resurrection’ process relatively infrequently because of the seriousness of the subject matter. In that year his partner, Stanford Cates, died and Paul’s experience of Stanford’s dying convinced him that ‘Death and Resurrection’ was actually one of the most important of all his workshops. With renewed clarity he saw that acknowledging and honouring the fact that we are always in the process of our own dying and looking at our life as if we were shortly to leave it is – paradoxically – the key to a richer and a fuller way of living.