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He taught philosophy at Bowling Green State University for nearly twenty-five years , serving as Department Chair for eleven years and leading efforts to establish the first Ph. Tom left as Professor Emeritus in Philosophy in to become an independent applied philosopher.

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In this presentation, I will tell a story that reflects what I have learned in over thirty years of reflection about the meanings of life, death, loss, and grieving. The story begins as one about the breath of life itself: the mystery of its coming and going, the grace that gives it, its animating power, the life support it provides, how we take it for granted, and the good reasons why traditions identify it with soul and spirit.

It continues as a story about how the loss of someone we love takes our breath away: the brokenness and sorrow grief reaction that come over us; the crises of ego, soul, and spirit that leave us gasping for breath; the realization of how much we have taken for granted; and assurance that, though its smooth flow is disrupted, the breath of life itself continues unbroken.

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And it concludes as a story about how, through active engagement with what has happened to us grieving response , we catch our breath by: adopting sorrow-friendly practices that enable us to breathe into our suffering and learn vital lessons from it, drawing upon hope and the resilience of soul and spirit, learning to carry sorrow, relearning the worlds of our experience, and learning to love in separation.

When we grieve, we move from loving in presence to loving in separation.

How We Grieve: Relearning the World

Nothing is more difficult in grieving. Nothing is more important if we are to thrive again in lives profoundly changed by loss. It is the central challenge in reweaving the web of connections in our daily lives and redirecting our life stories. Those we love leave us their legacies.

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We give them places in our hearts, both where we miss them and close to the vital centers of our lives. There will always be a place in our hearts where we miss them.

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  7. As we learn to love them in separation, we open our hearts in other places to what we still have of them. We hold them in our memories, practical lives, souls, and spirits.


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