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What if Death is Just Another Exhale?

This morning I celebrated finishing the first semester of my Ph.D. program by running into the ocean at sunrise in 32-degree weather.

A large part of my desire to get a Ph.D. is to study conscious dying — namely ways to bring somatic practices, presence, and embodiment to the end-of-life process.

Since losing my mother, I’ve experienced many deaths of parts of myself. This program is teaching me how to hold and think about death in a new way, as just another exhale.

This morning felt like another death of a part of me. In the ocean, I left behind grief and fear I no longer need on my path forward.

Walking back to my car, I was invited to sit with people having a sunrise campfire. They shared their warmth, laughter, and coffee with me. The woman next to me introduced herself as Leslie, my mother’s name.

In this moment of connection and remembrance, I realized that this letting go into the ocean, this death, brought an opening. Sometimes I fear the exhale, not remembering the potential beauty of what the next inhale can bring.

So maybe that’s just what death is — a letting go, a surrender, into something new.


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