Demystifying Death and Grief
“Death is but changing of our robes to wait in wedding garments at the Eternal’s gate.” —Sri Aurobindo
Tara specializes in the human/horse bond for healing grief, loss, difficult life transitions and facilitating help for care-takers. In her own personal life, Tara has had an extensive journey with death and grief which has inspired her to help demystify death in our society. Her passion is to help others understand that once one accepts death, one can truly come to life
Grief Services Offered at Wind Horse Sanctuary:
Also, check out the Suggested Readings page for a list of books recommended by Tara to guide and support you through your individual grief journey as well as the Suggested Resources page which provides several helpful websites and organizations.
Why, do you ask, do I have a page dedicated to death and grief? Well, my friends, it has been a long road, specifically the last two years of my life that has led me to take a reluctant look at death. My dearest girl-friend of nineteen years, Deb Hubsmith (please see her blog) was diagnosed on October 17, 2013 with Acute Myeloid Leukemia.
Years before Deb was diagnosed I had lost another young friend of mine to cancer, which shocked me to my core. I vowed to do whatever I could do to help Deb out.. I knew that if I didn’t show up 100% for her and she died, I would regret it. I had planned to permanently move to a new location and postponed my move, bringing my horse to live 100 miles away to be near her.. I spent endless hours in the hospital with her, leading her through guided meditations, rubbing her feet, loving her dearly and arranged a fundraiser for her so she didn’t have to worry about not working. I gave everything I could as that is what one does when someone you love is hurting…
Deb had a bone marrow transplant on March 19, 2014, which seemed to be successful and had five beautiful months where she was healthy; we all relaxed a little bit. Then in November, 2014 the leukemia returned and that is when I realized that the chances were slim that my beloved Deb would survive. It was heart-breaking and sad to see my once vibrant friend spiral down from her healthy, dancer, bicycle rider, 25 year vegan lifestyle to a place where she was confined to her bed.. Deb was a fighter. She inspired people all around the globe with her determined, positive and vulnerable spirit through the avenue of her blog and Facebook posts.
She died on August 18, 2015 in the comfort of her home surrounded by her husband, mother and closest friends with the music she loved. In the last month of her life I saw her come to peace with the reality of her death, she was ready to go.
Deb's story forever altered my life. I was blessed to be by her side, one of her main caretakers for the entire twenty-two month journey. I will treasure the moments spent holding her through the last nights of her life, vulnerable like a child.
To read more, check out my blog, "How I made peace with death - My tribute to Deb Hubsmith".
One month to the day after Deb passed my sweet husky dog Leilani (companion of 8 years) passed from cancer.. At one point I thought I would break from the pain of losing two of my closest females but I dug deep within my soul and trusted that we are given challenging moments to grow and to ultimately help others on their path.
So here I am speaking about death… There is nothing to fear.. We live in a culture mortified to talk about death. In being Deb’s caretaker I witnessed it daily; I saw the folks who had seen death up close and could converse about it as opposed to those who would fidget with the reality of the world I was in. It takes great courage to witness and accept that we all are going to die.. This is a reality that other cultures innately know. I have been to Bali and India, witnessing bodies being burnt on the streets and seeing dead bodies floating down the Ganges. Death is a part of our daily reality but in our western, safe and clean world we leave the dirty deeds for the mortuary to shield us from a dead and decaying body… When Deb died, we washed her body with sacred oils, sang to her, draped flowers upon her, dressed her in her most beautiful clothes (and oh how she loved her clothes!) and laid her body out to be viewed for 24 hours for her closest friends and family. What a blessed experience it was to be able to observe the transformation that occurred when her spirit left the body that had housed her for forty-six years and to understand she was not with us anymore.. Her body grew cold as the moments ticked away after her passing, which truly allowed us to understand she was in another place. She was free of suffering and on the next stage of her journey.
I feel called to demystify death, to help others understand that once one truly accepts death, one can truly come to life. I now volunteer at Hospice and find great joy in spending time with folks on the threshold of death. It is a daily reminder of how precious each moment is and I am blessed to learn this from my dying patients.
I choose to work with horses with the dying and caretakers as I see that horses have the ability to go between the worlds, to pull out the sorrow and what is real for those facing life’s greatest challenges. Horses are healers, they have the ability to touch into what the human mind likes to hide away in fear.
On the same token, allowing one’s grief to release is the same. Once we allow our tears to fall, grieving what we have lost, whether it be a friend, partner, pet, job, house, idea or the harsh realities of our environmental current situation, we release that which is holding us back from truly living life fully…
I invite you to start to recognize in a deeper fashion that death is with us at every moment, in fact, we are slowly making our way to that threshold.. We never know when our death might be, it could be sudden or long and prolonged. There is no rhyme or reason to the riddle of why some die young and others live to a ripe, old age. Life is short and every moment is precious. Seeing my best friend’s life slowly being snuffed out was the greatest lesson in understanding how temporary our moments on Earth are..
Food for Thought
- Please enjoy each moment.
- Recognize the gifts you’ve been given.
- The petty things that bother you are just that, petty things.
- If you found out you had a year to live, how would you change your life?
- What have you not experienced that you wish to do in your lifetime?
- Whom do you wish to say, “I love you” to.
- If you died tomorrow, would you have regrets?
Schedule of Upcoming Grief Rituals
- Tara is currently focused on healing Breast Cancer and is temporarily taking a break from workshops. She is choosing to heal herself with alternative & natural methods. To follow her journey please go to: www.CancerWarrioress.com and www.facebook.com/cancerwarrioress
To see a full list of events we offer including the grief rituals, please visit: EVENT PAGE
Grief Ritual Testimonials
"Tara, thank you for such a wonderful ritual. I found it so very healing. You are really such a skilled leader. I think you have really found your calling. And your horses provide a wonderful presence and reflection. I really connected with Comanche this time. Loved the stone ceremony and the reverberations of all our grievings. It was healing and cathartic all at the same time. It is obvious we are not alone in this human condition." - Melisa McCampbell
“The most powerful day of my 47 years of living... everything makes sense now ♡ There is nothing more important than allowing yourself to grieve. I have a new found strength that I intend to bring with me through this next chapter in my life! Bless you Tara for the work you do and thank you Comanche, Spirit, Blue & Daisy for assisting in my beautiful journey ♡ Xaria too for the most beautiful stones!” - Erika Anderson Wagner
See more Grief Ritual testimonials HERE.