Category Archives: Uncategorized

Sources of understanding: the Tibetan Book of the Dead.

This book offers trustworthy guidance at the time of death, and in the after death state through which every one must pass. In the words of Milarepa, we must regard as one this life, the next life, and the life between in the Bardo Plane.

The central message of this book is that dying is just as important as living or coming into birth. Knowing the manner of dying confers the power to consciously control the process of regeneration. The Book of the Dead teaches that we should face death calmly and with a clear mind. Our past thoughts have determined our present, our present thoughts will determine our future. Thus, The Book of the Dead teaches that the thoughts of a dying person should be rightly directed. The manner of dying only prepares us for a transition from the human plane of consciousness, and leads to (a coming forth into) a new life.

Lama Govinda says that what we call birth is the reverse side of death; like a door which we call “entrance” from outside and “exit” from inside a room. Because most people do not remember their previous lives in their waking state, they do not believe there was a previous death. But our subconscious memory preserves past impressions and experiences. Lama Govinda says that we should not try to separate the philosophical content of Buddhism from its mythological (Hindu) elements.

According to Tibetan tradition, The Book of the Dead is one of the works which were secretly hidden in order to preserve them for later generations. These works were to be revealed to the world when the time was ripe. The Book of the Dead is a key to the innermost recesses of the human mind and a guide for those who are seeking the path of liberation by hearing on the after-death plane.

It has value for those who practice and realize its teachings during their lifetime. The initiate must go through the process of dying before he can be spiritually reborn. He must die to his past before he can take his place in the new spiritual life. Buddhists believe that at every moment something within us dies, and something is reborn. The initiate, being able to perceive death’s illusory nature, is freed from fear. Thus, The Book of the Dead is as much a guide for the living as it is for the dead and the dying.

Dr. Carl Jung, the eminent psychologist, recognized the importance of “The After Death Experiences on the Bardo Plane”. Stored in the unconscious, there exists in each of us the memory of a forgotten past. But only the awakened ones remember their many lives and deaths. It goes without saying that this book is based on the doctrine of re-birth, a doctrine that was taught not just by Lord Krishna and the Buddha, but by the Greeks, the Ancient Egyptians and the Gnostic Christians as well.

The mere knowledge of language does not suffice to make one a translator. The author says he would not have undertaken this task without believing in its teachings or without studying for many years with a traditional teacher (guru). The author says he has approached the work with a spirit of devotion and humility, as a sacred trust that has come into his hands.


Coping with sorrow, loss and grief.

Photo taken from

Story courtesy of

The term “Grief” is used to describe reactions and feelings that a person might have to the loss of someone or something that is important to them. The feeling of loss not only covers the immediate loss of a relationship, good health, a job, a way of life or the death of a loved one, but also includes the loss of generations of family bonds, the removal of links to spiritual land rights or neglect of the cultural heritage. What is grief?

Grief is not an illness – it can not be cured or hurried along. No two people experience grief in the same way. It is affected by many factors such as the nature of the loss, the person’s past history, their cultural and spiritual beliefs, and their personality.

There is no right or wrong way to experience grief.

Some common grief reactions include:

• Sadness, crying

• Shock, numbness

• Difficulty accepting the loss

• Anger, guilt, shame

Why are there differences in how people grieve?

We are all different. We come from different family backgrounds and cultures. Every culture has traditions, rules and expectations about how grief is expressed and dealt with. This tool kit cannot capture the cultural diversity here in Australia.

It describes common experiences and aims to provide individuals with tools to help manage grief.

How long does grief last?

You can’t put a time limit on grief. The best answer seems to be “as long as it takes”. Grief doesn’t occur in neat stages. It is a chaotic process, which is different for each person.

We don’t recover from grief as we might from some physical illness. Instead, we gradually learn to adjust to the loss. This adjustment process depends on how you express your grief and other feelings, your life experience, previous losses, coping style, personality, physical health and available support systems.

There are no simple solutions to getting over the pain caused by your loss. At this time you may feel that no person, no words, no reading material can ease the pain. However, when you feel ready, the information below may be helpful.

Coping with sorrow, loss and grief

The term “Grief” is used to describe reactions and feelings that a person might have to the loss of someone or something that is important to them.

The feeling of loss not only covers the immediate loss of a relationship, good health, a job, a way of life or the death of a loved one, but also includes the loss of generations of family bonds, the removal of links to spiritual land rights or neglect of the cultural heritage.

1. Let yourself grieve

It is important to be able to express grief rather than ‘bottling up’ feelings. At times you may feel overwhelmed by the intensity of your feelings, but that is normal. You can postpone grief, but you can not avoid it. Not dealing with grief makes it harder to cope with other stresses that may come later.

Not everybody expresses grief by crying. There are many other ways including:

• Physical activity

• Writing

• Painting, music, etc.

• Talking about the loss

• Praying

2. Look after yourself

Coping with grief is stressful on your body. Look after yourself so that you’re better able to cope with the changes you are going through.

• Eat healthy, frequent, small, easily digested meals.

• Don’t use alcohol or drugs to reduce your grief – they numb feelings that need to be expressed.

• Give yourself time out from the pain – do something you enjoy.

• Connect with yourself – through religion, meditation, music, walking, gardening, sport, hobbies.

3. Postpone major life decisions

Right now, because of the stress you are under, you may not have the ability to make good longterm decisions. It can be tempting to make decisions quickly, or be pressured into making certain decisions. If possible, delay major decisions until a time that you can better deal with them. If decisions have to be made now, speak to someone you trust who is not directly affected by the loss.

4. Keep mementos

It may seem sensible to remove the belongings of the person who has died, or items that are associated with the loss. It may be painful to have them around. If this is the case, give the items to someone until you feel better able to deal with them. Some of the items that have sentimental value may be very comforting to you later. Giving away belongings, at an appropriate time, is also a healthy part of grieving.

5. Let people know how they can help

Your friends and family may not know what to say or do when they are with you. This makes things difficult for both of you. Let them know how you are feeling, and what you would like them to do.

Tell them if there are practical things that they can do to help you out. It is okay to say that you are not ready to talk about your loss, and that you will let them know when you are.

You need to be around people who are supportive, understanding and willing to help.

Friends and family may not always be able to give you the kind of emotional support you need.

Develop a resource list of people, services, or places to contact when the going gets tough. Here are some ideas:

• Counsellors and/or psychologists

• Bringing Them Home Counsellors, who specialize in Stolen Generation issues

• Healing Circles or other similar cultural healing groups

• Bereavement support groups

• Doctors

• Priest, minister or religious leaders

These services can be located through your local aboriginal medical service, community health centre, doctor, mental health services, funeral director, or religious group.

6. Let yourself heal

Healing does not have to mean letting go or saying goodbye. Do not feel guilty for beginning to move through your grief and on with your life.

It does not mean the loss does not matter. It can be helpful to enjoy happy memories by talking, smiling and laughing about them.

Set aside some time alone each day to express your grief, look after yourself, or even just to remember. Spend time with friends and family to talk, tell your story, or share your grief. Some people find a support group useful because it provides access to others who may have more of an understanding of what you are experiencing.

7. Know that you can come through this

You may never be the same person again, but you can survive this. You may not think so, but you can. Sometimes old beliefs and ideas seem empty and useless because of what has happened.They may need to be adapted to suit a new set of circumstances.

Take one moment or one day at a time. Set your own limits and learn to say no. Expect some set backs, but know that you will progress through them. This may be the hardest thing you will ever do, so be patient with yourself.

8. Be prepared for stressful situations and events

Stressful situations and events include birthdays, Christmas, anniversaries, or hearing about situations that remind you of your own loss. These can be less stressful if you are prepared for them:

• Be aware of places that evoke strong memories.

• Plan activities for remembrance, such as writing a card or doing something to acknowledge the loss.

• Let yourself be sad even if it is meant to be a happy occasion.

• Let yourself have fun – enjoy happy memories and the company of other people close to you. Sometimes the time leading up to these events is the hardest. The day itself may not be as hard as you fear.

9. When does grief become a problem?

Sometimes people are unable to come to terms with their loss and are unable to move on with life. They might become stuck in either constant grief and sadness, or become involved in a range of activities to avoid feeling the pain of their loss. This can have a bad effect on relationships and may lead to an increased risk of physical or mental illness.

If there is concern that you or someone you know may be having problems grieving, a doctor, psychologist or counsellor can determine if there is in fact a problem.

10. Information for family and friends

It’s hard to know how to help or what to say to someone who is experiencing grief. These ideas might help:

• Let them know you care – acknowledge their loss and what it means to them.

• Let them know how you feel – that you don’t know what to say, but you want to help.

• Be there to listen – when they want to talk, let them tell their story.

• Let them know it’s okay to express their grief – even though it is hard to see them so upset.

• Keep in touch – let them know you are available. Keep including them in activities. They may not wish to join in, but give them the option.

• Be tolerant – they may behave out of character.

• Look out for signs of suicide or being stuck in grief and sadness.

• Find help and information if they need or want extra support.

• Look after yourself – take time out, talk to someone about how you are feeling.

What not to do:

• Don’t minimise their loss.

• Don’t think you can take away their pain.

• Don’t tell them “You’ll get over it”.

• Don’t say “I know how you feel” – everyone is different.

We often do or say these things because we want to help. It’s hard to stand by and watch someone we care about go through so much pain. Sometimes we are also reminded of our own feelings of loss. The best way to help the person is just to be there for them.

For more information on coping with grief, please contact Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14.

Mum helps others to deal with loss of loved ones

Story and photo from

Rose Hodges should be basking in the glow of her daughter’s 21st birthday.

But Mrs Hodges did not celebrate the day Jaye turned 21. Instead she imagined what could, and should, have been.

Jaye committed suicide at her Raworth home on September 24, 2008, following a long and relentless battle with depression. She was 19.

Sixteen months after Jaye’s death, Mrs Hodges has established a suicide support group to help others living with such a complicated grief.

“This group is all about supporting one another,” Mrs Hodges said.

“I’ve been attending a suicide support group in Newcastle for a while now and it has been a wonderful help to me. It’s been good to be able to see how people are coping. Jaye would have been 21 last month and I had someone I could talk to about that.”

Mrs Hodges and husband Keith spoke out about their daughter’s death in a special Maitland Mercury report last December. The couple chose to tell their story to celebrate Jaye’s life while also acknowledging her tragic death.

“I wanted to set up a support group in Maitland to let others know that it’s okay to feel the way you feel when someone close to you takes their own life,” Mrs Hodges said.

“This is nothing to hide behind and the more we talk about it the more help we can get.”

Suicide is a prominent public health concern in Australia. According to the Australian Government’s Mindframe National Media Initiative, 1900 people have died by suicide during the past decade.

“We’ll never, ever forget our children. I think of Jaye every day and I know that won’t change, but I also know things won’t always be so hard,” Mrs Hodges said.

Australia has a wide variety of support networks for people coping with the effects of suicide. For assistance, please contact.

Anglicare, Living Beyond Suicide: 1300 76 11 93        

Salvation Army, Hope Line and the Bereaved By Suicide Support Program: 1300 467 354        

Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467

A Lifebook is also a beautiful way to celebrate the life of a loved one, capture memories and support worthwhile charities that aim to prevent these tragedies happening again. Visit to set up a Lifebook today.

The writing of Dr Gordon Livingston: a lesson in life.

Dr. Gordon Livingston

Dr Gordon Livingston has worked as a celebrated psychiatrist for over forty years, and with his extensive research into the conditions of human happiness, has formed valuable insights into how we can deal with tragedy in our own lives. Whilst dedicating his life to counseling others, Dr Gordon’s encounters with suffering have not been exclusively professional, having suffered the tragic loss of two children in a 13-month period, losing one son to suicide and another to leukaemia. Gordon believes that all people are free to deal with loss, unhappiness and suffering and that we all have an unlimited potential to achieve meaningful and lasting happiness in our lives.

Dr Livingston’s writings are characterized by what Elizabeth Edwards has described as ‘his unapologetic directness and his embracing compassion’; a touching and heart rendering appeal to the wisdom of his readers. Dr Livingston’s writings are carefully crafted compositions, touching worldly insights that help the reader see the world differently.

To introduce you to the writings of Dr Gordon Livingston, Living Years has provided a brief synopsis of some of his most acclaimed books.

‘Too Old Soon, Too Late Smart’

This profound and incisive book brings together a collection of wisdoms and deceptively simple truths from Dr Livingston’s lifetime of experience to help you realise that it is never too late to find your greatest happiness, and how to go about it. Among the thirty life lessons featured in the book are ‘We are what we do’, ‘Only bad things happen quickly’, ‘We are afraid of the wrong things’ and ‘Be bold, and mighty forces will come to your aid’.

‘How To Love’

This inspiring book is for all those both lucky and unlucky in love, to help us to better choose our relationships and how to mediate the ups and downs that inevitably occur. Dr Livingston’s primary focus in this engaging read is to help his readers recognize the key aspects of their personality and of that in others so we can better assess our compatibility and make decisions about the future.

‘Only Spring’

When Dr Livingston and his family received the tragic news that his six-year old son had leukemia, he began keeping a journal tracing the excruciating ordeal of witnessing his child’s courageous battle and the agonising cycle of faith lost and hope gained. As a memorial, this book will introduce you to a remarkable child whose legacy of hope and love can enrich each of us. As a portrait of survival, it will infuse us with the strength and faith to confront the most profound challenges in our lives.

You can find out how to order these books at

Healing Grief Residential Program in NSW with Petrea King

Healing Grief is a weekend residential program that acknowledges the pain of grief as
well as providing an understanding of bereavement, its idiosyncrasies and practical strategies to begin or continue the process of healing, integration and making meaning of our loss.

This program is suitable for anyone who has lost a loved one either recently or in the past and who finds that grief is ongoing.

There are limited spaces available for the upcoming program on 19th – 21st February in Bundanoon, NSW (90 minutes from Sydney). Financial subsidies are available for people who live in NSW, through support from NSW Health.

Reading Petrea’s book, Sometimes Hearts Have to Break is highly recommended before attending this program.

For more information visit or phone 02 4883 6599.

Funerary urns take artful turn –

Funerary urns take artful turn –

They may be cast in steel, assembled out of driftwood, machined on industrial lathes or hand-carved out of salt, but ultimately all of these urns have two common purposes: to contain and to heal. Rather than be burned, buried or sequestered in a columbarium, the vessels are destined for a more visible final resting place — a mantel, perhaps, or a family room bookshelf, maybe even a spot in the garden.

The dead, you see, are coming home. Though the majority of Americans are still buried in a casket, more are choosing cremation. Rates have risen from 23.6% in 1997 to a projected 39% in 2010, according to the National Funeral Directors Assn., and the figure is expected to hit 60% around 2025. With this rise in cremation comes the emergence of a related field: urn as decorative art.

Funerary urns come in all forms these days, from small keepsake matching sets for easy division among relatives to large sculpture that can contain the whole family — three or four people, all together.

“Each piece is like a person,” said Maureen Lomasney, who runs the Sonoma County gallery Art Honors Life, specializing in funerary vessels. “It’s like you’re at a party. Some people have lampshades on their heads, some are talking very seriously, some are just posing, beautiful and elegantly. They can be whimsical, stately, charming. Each has character.”

The creative growth in what has long been a tradition-bound field can be traced to several factors. Cremation is considered less taboo by religions than in eras past. The practice also can be less costly than buying a plot and staging a casket burial. Perhaps most important: Ashes are portable. Modern families who move frequently and disperse themselves geographically may find comfort in bringing Dad or Grandma with them rather than making all-too-rare treks to a distant cemetery.

For Lomasney, the movement is really about regaining control over a process that is largely uncontrollable — that, and getting people to talk about death, which, she dryly said, “is a subject we tend to bury in this country.” Making artists part of the discussion makes people more comfortable talking about loss, Lomasney said. “We are mainstreaming the topic of death because we are presenting urns as beautiful objects that help people memorialize their loved ones.”


San Diego residents Andy and Melissa Mikulak lost their son Max, 7, in 2008 to neuroblastoma, a malignant tumor that strikes children. When the end came and the Mikulaks found themselves in the funeral home looking through catalogs of urns, they didn’t see anything that felt appropriate for Max. The boy liked light sabers and fighter planes, but the catalog?

“It was all very bland — expected themes and forms,” Andy Mikulak said.

They bought something temporary and a few months later connected with Chris Rizzo, an artist in Portland, Ore., who worked in a machine shop that made high-end engine parts for motorcycles. The Mikulaks saw his artwork on Lomasney’s website,, and though they had never bought art before, the couple talked with the artist and settled on a design: a machined aluminum container that looks like something from a “Star Wars” X-Wing fighter.

“My original direction to Chris was it should look like something that is powered and goes very fast or fell off of something that goes very fast,” Andy Mikulak said. “We sent him pictures of Max’s drawings and his stuff, and he interpreted that into the vessel that holds his ashes. It had a positive impact on the grieving process. It was one thing we could do that we had in our control. Looking through the funeral home’s catalog of urns you feel like something is being imposed on you, just like the cancer treatment.”

For Rizzo, creating the piece made him feel as though he had known Max.

“This was not like a regular art piece, not just an object on a pedestal,” Rizzo said. “Even though it’s a hard metal object, there is humanity involved, a connection between people, from my labor to the person that physically goes into it.”

Rizzo spent more than 80 hours on the project, machining down a solid 4-inch thick bar of aluminum in a process he compared to sculpting. He also worked on a wooden traveling version for the Mikulaks because the Transportation Security Administration wouldn’t let the metal model through airport security.

Seattle urn artist Tony Knapp takes his kayak into Elliott Bay to gather driftwood, which he soaks in Sumi ink and adorns with polymer clay or cement. His figures are slightly cartoonish, with a vague Tim Burton undertone — rough stick figures with removable heads and nooks in their stomachs for keepsakes. He’s working on a dog series in which the urn is made of black steel, the lid is a spiked collar, and a bone on the door opens to a recess where pictures may be kept.

“I wouldn’t be making urns if they were just a cookie jar with a lid on top, sitting on a mantel,” Knapp said. “That’s too morbid. If it’s a wacky-looking guy holding his own ashes over his head — now that lightens everything. The baby boomers all want to stand out. Even in the end, we want some whimsical receptacle for ourselves.”

Personalization is the philosopher’s stone for the funeral industry. Urns come in the shape of motorcycle gas tanks, bowling pins, golf bags and cowboy boots. Online seller Cremation Solutions offers an urn that can be customized with a 3-D image of the deceased (or the celebrity or superhero of your choice) on a head-shaped container with a bare scalp, “ready for a suitable wig.”

In October, Lomasney attended the National Funeral Directors Assn. show in Boston, the first time she has risked exposing her one-of-a-kind urns to others who might rip off designs and concepts. She reported a stream of funeral service providers stopping by to meet her.

“I feel like there is an awakening,” Lomasney said by phone from Boston. “There’s been an emerging awareness that families are looking for something more evocative and thoughtful, more to their tastes than traditional spun metal ginger jars or cloisonné vases.”

Artist-created funereal urns and reliquaries may represent more than a boomer interior decorating trend. They may suggest the shifting of a basic cultural marker, one more in keeping with global mores regarding the loss of family and friends.

Death may be an $11-billion industry in America, but only outside of the U.S. does death become part of the everyday décor, easily acknowledged in the home. In Mexico, reminders come in the form of Day of the Dead altars, papier-mâché skulls and ceramic skeletons in the style of celebrated artist José Guadalupe Posada. In Japan, where funerals are among the world’s most expensive, home altars called butsudan are daily reminders of those who have passed. Yagiken, an Osaka-based manufacturer of “universal” nonsectarian butsudan, even offers a low-cost version that is Danish-designed, a form of remembrance for those who insist on modern style in their Japanese home.

Local influence

Here in Southern California, Lomasney and her Funeria website found an early supporter in Hillside Memorial Park and Mortuary of Los Angeles. The final resting place for many Jewish entertainment industry figures including Al Jolson and Aaron Spelling, Hillside is the only local outlet for Funeria urns. It also helped sponsor “Ashes to Art: Scattered,” a juried biennial design competition held last year at Lomasney’s Art Honors Life gallery.

“Maureen has things I wouldn’t mind having on my mantelpiece if I had one,” said Mark Friedman, chief executive of Hillside. “They are beautiful and comforting — and maybe that’s the same thing — comforting because they are beautiful.”

With this direction in mind, Hillside approached Otis College of Art and Design in Westchester, suggesting that the school offer a class on urn design. Michael Collins, the assistant chairman of product design at Otis, said he was skeptical at first.

“Students are not interested in death since it’s not part of their normal life,” he said, adding that they “think they are going to live forever.”

But after the students visited Hillside and saw the Funeria urns, there was a “transitional consciousness awakening” in the class about how commercial products can be more meaningful, said department chairman Steve McAdam. “This isn’t like saying, ‘Let’s redesign a bicycle.’ ”

The class was immediately popular — for its theme and the real-world experience it promised. Students would have prospective clients already lined up, and their designs potentially could go into production quickly. In early November, Paul Goldstein, the director of sales from Hillside, stopped by for the initial critique of the works.

Aaron Audasiova, a senior, had made “Stacked Urn,” composed of three circular saucer-shaped vessels, large tapering to small. The design was evocative of the small piles of rocks commonly seen in rural areas of the Middle East and a reminder of the Jews’ nomadic heritage. The three parts of the urn could stand alone or be screwed together into one interlocking piece. The largest saucer, on the bottom, was designed to hold soil from Israel, while the middle piece held ashes that gradually sifted to the bottom. The design could be adjusted into a hanging urn, similar to an incense censer.

“I can see this hanging in the corner of a room very easily,” said JoanTakayama-Ogawa, the ceramics instructor overseeing the initial stage of construction. Product design teacher Randall Wilson chimed in: The urn could be fabricated out of spun metal, but casting would allow for a deeper level of detail. The lid of the urn could be detached to hold a candle or incense, leading to questions about how much choice to give the client.

“It’s good to have some options but too many is confusing, and people are confused enough at this time,” Hillside’s Goldstein said. “It’s hard to be decisive. The main thing is to catch the eye, have somebody say ‘I can see that in my house.’ ”

And that is the bottom line for Hillside: This art is meant to be seen.

“My feeling is that if people are going to bury them, we are not going to be selling them a unique piece of art,” CEO Friedman said. “When people first put ashes in an urn, beautiful or not, they are still very raw. If it is on a mantelpiece eight years later, the rawness has gone away and the significance of the piece has changed.”

Hannah’s Foundation – Drowning Prevention, Awareness &; Support (Australia)

This Bulletin has been released by one of our charity alliances
– we wanted to share it with you.

Posted by Katherine Plint

Beach tragedy leaves children orphaned.

Three children were orphaned last night when both of their parents drowned at an unpatrolled beach where they were swimming at South Ballina.

Katherine Plint from Hannah’s Foundation said “this tragedy is overwhelming for the family; the children have lost their parents and are struggling to cope with extended family now caring for them. Hannah’s Foundation has offered its full support to all concerned.”

“With the assistance from the New South Wales Police, Hannah’s Foundation was contacted by Inspector Greg Moore and with his assistance, the family have authorised the Sherry Orphan Family appeal this afternoon. People can go into any Westpac branch to donate over the counter and further information is located on our website.” She said

“This summer has seen a dramatic increase in these types of tragedies we can only hope that people out there really do listen to the safety warnings from Surf Life Savers and organisations such as Hannah’s Foundation.”

“The appeal we hope will be able to reduce the financial burden of the funeral expenses as well as being able to provide financial stability for the children as they try to cope with life without their parents who cared, provided and loved them throughout their lives.” CEO Andrew Plint said.

“Hannah’s Foundation will be working with the family and other organisations to assist the children and family left behind by this tragedy.” He said


Hannah’s Foundation Drowning Prevention, Awareness and Support charity is conducting on behalf of the Sherry Family an appeal for the children Orphaned by the tragic drowning of their parents at Ballina late yesterday afternoon.

All donations are fully tax deductible. Donation details can be made through any Westpac bank OVER THE COUNTER.


Account Name: QPCU Hannah’s Foundation

Reference: Sherry Orphans Family Appeal

BSB: 034-002
Account No: 333453

For Further donation details on Electronic funds transfer or credit card payments please see Hannah’s Foundation website

All Donations are fully tax deductible to Hannah’s Foundation – Sherry Orphan Family appeal.

Issued by CEO Andrew Plint on 20th January 2010
for comments please ring (07) 5465 2000