Create A Death Box


If you are over 75 and live alone with no living family you might want to create a Death Box to make everything run smoothly according to your wishes after death. Things can become a little complicated without clear directives. It should be very helpful for dear friends to have easily accessible NECESSARY forms and other instructions and messages. This is particularly true if you’re alone at the time of death.

I created a Death Box containing separate envelopes filled with various forms and relevant lists and messages regarding my dogs and basically whatever comes to mind in this arena. Currently the envelopes are addressed as follows:
Last Will
Health Care Directive: Do Not Resuscitate
Regarding Dogs
Funeral Home Info
Power of Attorney
List of Personal Effects
Taos Property Info
Cancel Insurance Policies
Envelopes addressed to closest friends

All of these items are contained in a shoe box appropriately labeled and decorated as seen in above photo. Close friends know of the box and its location.

Regarding end of life preparations I’m impressed by the work of interfaith minister Susan Varon who conducts the local Death Cafe meetings in Taos. The next meeting is March 1, 2:00 at Golden Willow, 412 Sipapu Street (at the Golden Willow facing Sipapu not Salazar). Be there at least 10 minutes early because the doors close promptly at 2:00.

Email Susan at and put your name on her mailing list to be notified of future Death Cafe meetings AND to receive the super-helpful information she sends out such as “A Check List for Dealing with End of Life Issues” and “How to Take Control of the End of Your Life” by Katy Butler. Katy’s book “The Art of Dying Well” is available at the Taos Library and I look forward to reading it.

Getting Friendly With the Grim Reaper

“We behave as if we are never going to die – an infantile arrogance. But even more injurious than this sense of immortality is what comes with it: the sense that we can engulf this inconceivable universe with our minds………Our goal is to reach infinity and be aware of it.” Castaneda, The Active Side of Infinity

There are endless accounts of what to expect after death – everything from a maintaining of appearance as we rejoin with family, friends and spiritual masters in a heaven of endless magnificence – to the other extreme of grotesque tortures experienced as punishment for bad karma. Threats of a fiery hell have always been used to keep the masses under control and have nothing to do with preparation for after death realities.

Death and dying should not be thought of as a taboo subject. Try bringing it up in conversation and see the reaction; you are immediately perceived as negative. Yet, recognizing death as a constant companion is a first step toward experiencing a fearless encounter with one’s final reality which can come without warning at any moment.

A rewarding first step in developing a friendship with the so called grim reaper is Stephen Levine who dedicated his life to work with death, dying and grief, writing about the process in numerous books such as Who Dies? and A Year to Live, combining Buddhist principals with other wisdom traditions. In Who Dies? he writes, “Who is prepared to die? Who has lived so fully that they are not threatened by their imaginings of nonexistence? For it is only the idea of death that frightens us. It is the unknown we pull back from.”

Another master of the subject is Carlos Castaneda, the author of a series of life changing books. For those who think of him as an unremarkable hippie guru I turn to Deepak Chopra who wrote “Carlos Castaneda is one of the most profound and influential thinkers of this century. His insights are paving the way for the future evolution of human consciousness. We should all be deeply indebted to him.”

The Active Side of Infinity, Castaneda’s final book is concerned with aspects of death and dying focused on dying in full consciousness. Don Juan called the death experience the definitive journey and described life after death as “a concrete region filled to capacity with practical affairs of a different order.” Preparation for entrance into the active side of infinity includes close examination of one’s life in search of memorable, life changing events of an objective nature. He describes the type of acceptable events with great clarity.

The other major activity in preparation for death is to leave no debt unpaid which sent Carlos on a journey to find all his benefactors and gift them in a magnificent manner. It is an incredible book of much value to those planning to die at some point in the near or distant future.

If there is an afterlife it is certainly determined by one’s energetic configuration at the time of death. This frequency is enhanced by love and joy – and lowered by fear, anger, and ungratified longings. One’s life’s work is to assure a frequency of bright radiance at the moment of death that will gravitate toward energy of a similar nature in the stratosphere and beyond. Embracing impermanence and change, releasing material attachments and creating a loving nature establish a good path toward a higher frequency and peaceful death experience. And this is no small task in today’s world.

It’s good to keep in daily contact with the following wisdom-cliches because they monitor deep realities. Although it will appear quite simplistic, try repeating these phrases from time to time and notice how your awareness transforms: Nothing lasts forever; we are just passing through; you can’t take it with you; live each moment as though your last; make love not war. Basically everything fades into a new and brilliantly unknown reality.

Saving Lulu


My little dog Lulu is a model of courage as she continues to deal with the ravages of time. Friends knowing her history say she looks fantastic but Lulu and I know what’s going on and how difficult it is for her. Although, with her deafness and senility – her experience of life is way beyond my empirical knowledge.

Lulu has been a little different from the beginning. A majority of wild, ferrel dogs never become manageable, often not allowing human touch for a lifetime. But Lulu was friendly from the time of her capture from under a deserted trailer. She was filled with palpable buck shot fired into her belly by the man who vowed to kill her if she wasn’t removed immediately.

Lulu has been at my side in reality and in my dreams since 2002, appearing in so many dreams that her nickname is Traveler and what a traveler she has been. In dream-time she is present when danger has us escaping in the middle of the night, fleeing from an unseen terror. We’re racing toward the train terminal across an intersection where we must not be seen and Lulu is barking all the way…..unfortunately.

I never had to worry about her running off when hiking and camping across the southwest even when we were in a serious wind tunnel in Utah. I let her out of the car to check out the scene and she jumped back in when she was certain we were not in danger.

Back in 2013 she was seriously ill with an irritable bowel that kept her in reoccurring pain. We had tests and the imaging showed an area of the gut that was extremely irritated and beyond. She took all kinds of medicine which helped for a while and then back to extreme discomfort.

So in June, 2013 I made an appointment to have her euthanized; I couldn’t bear to see her suffering continue. Sitting in the waiting room with Lulu on my lap and tears running down my face a woman come over and introduced herself as a Buddhist nun and asked if she could say a little prayer for Lulu. Of course I said yes. She whispered the prayer and it worked.

We were called into the examination room where the Dr. appeared with the fatal serum in the long needle. I said “I sure do hate to put her down when I don’t even know for sure what is wrong with her.” My wonderful and brilliant vet stopped in mid-step and said “Let me run a few more tests and see if we can find our.” Which she did, including phoning an out of town vet who suggested trying a new medication, it worked and she is still here.

At 15 she has some serious problems which are to be expected with all us elderly folks. In dog time she is over 100, is a little spaced out and does a lot of pacing around the house, sometimes for hours She can’t seem to find the puppy pads but we deal with it. To look at her one might think her gait is painful – but not so. She walks funny but can also run and play with her little sisters and hop about in the forest like a jack rabbit. And she loves to eat even tho she has lost many teeth – boy can she woof it down.

We continue short hikes in the forest with her two sisters. Can’t go far but we trudge on so she can get needed enjoyable recreation. Because of total deafness she’s on an extendable lease; otherwise she wanders off into the gloaming.She can be counted on to walk into thick brush even when the path is clearly in front of her, making me think her vision is impaired.

She has been so devoted to me all her life in every way and now I will do everything I can to make life possible for her. I think she’s hanging on because she doesn’t want to desert me. She doesn’t understand all the ramifications of the processes we, she and I, are involved in but I will try my very best not to let her down. I hope she can die at home in her sleep but until then we have a lot of living to do.

Connecting With the Field of Twinkling Light

Now Besso” (an old friend) “has departed from this strange world a little ahead of me. That means nothing. People like us know that the distinction between past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.” Einstein

New realities introduced to the subconscious continue to expand when maintained by constant remembrance. I often think of extraordinary realities such as parallel universes and the Field which is the Matrix of vibrating, swirling, oscillating energy fields communicating with each other in never ending space. The Field is both the origin and destiny for all that will be or has ever been.

Living matter uses light for instantaneous global communication. Fritz-Alfred Popp discovered all living things emit a stream of light which he called “biophoton emissions”. Other scientists have confirmed his findings. Interestingly so has Castaneda as revealed in the following quote from The Power of Silence. “As I stared at the wondrous sight, filaments of light began to radiate from everything on that prairie. At first it was like an explosion of an infinite number of short fibers, then the fibers became long threadlike strands of luminosity bundled together into beams of vibrating light that reached infinity.”

Many scientists have confirmed aspects of the Field realities. The Baxter effect demonstrated how plants communicate with the world around them; the 100th Monkey is a famous example of telepathy across great distances and Itzhak Bentov wrote of many wonders in Stalking the Wild Pendulum including psychic communication and the soul’s journey after death. He writes “Upon the death of the physical body, the psyche returns to its realm, finding its proper reality and with which it naturally resonates, depending on its level of evolution.”

So what does all this mean and how do telepathy, psychic transformation and parallel universes occur? The bottom line seems to be the amazing, almost magical photon/electron that can be both particle and wave depending on circumstances of the moment. It is this ability to be in two places simultaneously that makes expanding consciousness and personal frequency transformation possible.

What is meant by personal frequency transformation and what does it mean to us? The human being vibrates at various frequencies according to thoughts, activity, environment and genetics. Some influences produce fast waves and some produce slow, low frequencies. They all come together to create a frequency-identity, kinda like a bar-code. Everything we do, avoid, or speak sends encoded currents of light-energy into the Field which one can read when sensitive to these energies. If you are familiar with Kirlian photography or Masaru Emoto’s photos of water crystals in The Hidden Messages in Water you can imagine the intricacies of personal frequency patterns.

All living creatures communicate within particular frequency ranges, birds of a feather flock together and so do humans of a feather. Experiences are attracted by individual frequencies – what goes around comes around as one attracts in the groove with one’s dominant consciousness. Which means in everyday terms, if you don’t like where you are now, change focus, inner monologue, day dreams, routines and general input.

If likes attract in the Field, killers will hang with killers and peacemakers with peacemakers in the parallel universes awaiting us. Sounds like a good reason to cut negativity out of one’s life or we could possibly arrive in a universe full of stark realities. One is reminded of the film What Dreams May Come which concerns the mind’s creation of the life after death experience.

The elderly have an advantage in pursuing the inward-path. With more available time, less distractions and fewer obligations one can go on the journey of a lifetime into the subconscious and down the path toward a higher frequency of understanding. Connecting to the field through meditation will sustain memory, imagination, creativity and help prepare for the great transition. A perpetual fascination with the new is a mainstay of a healthy, exciting old age.

This blog is inspired by the chapter “Connecting With the Field” from my book: Napoleon’s Bathtub.

Welcome Death Cafes!

Do you know about Death Cafes? I am thrilled they exist, not just in Europe but also in many cities across America.The most recent post on Google indicates there are 4 Death Cafes in New Mexico: 2 in Albuquerque, one each in Dixon and Los Cruces and surprise, surprise – there is one in Taos. It’s wonderful to have designated places and events where one can discuss death and dying without someone saying “Let’s change the subject and discuss something more positive.”

My childhood training included: never discuss politics and religion. Death & dying should have been included on that list. It is never a well received topic of conversation, as when folks ask: “Are you well; is something wrong with your health?” “No, why do you ask?” “Because you bring up the subject of death and dying.” Yes I do and for many good reasons.

Think of all the cliché, routinized phrases we use in various circumstances surrounding this subject – phrases like: sorry for your loss and we all gotta go sometime, or perhaps we tell someone, moments from death: don’t worry, every things gonna be A-OK. Death Cafes offer places where small groups gather to drink tea and eat tasty treats while discussing fears and understandings of death and dying.

One of the difficult aspects of death is the ability to let go. This is true for both the dying and the survivors. In some ways I am freer than many in that my only survivors will be my 3 dogs. Of course they concern me but not the way children, grandchildren, husbands and lovers concern most people. It is a blessing to know that no one is going to live with a broken heart over my passing. Doggies recover quickly when given a loving home.

Physical suffering is the culprit and when absent from the dying scenario there is nothing to fear…………today is as good as tomorrow for the big event; one is never ready to say goodbye. I know I must sound conflicted and perhaps I am deep in my subconscious but my conscious self is not afraid to be gone. My fears lie in the going. If it is peaceful and painless I can welcome it’s embrace.

I can welcome death’s embrace because I have had a wonderful life and the party is always over before we’re ready to go home. I get it and …………… I’m also a little sick of the direction the world is moving. But I love life and will love it until I breathe no more. What is impossible to reconcile is the death of close friends; I don’t believe in an afterlife recognizable to humanity. By that I mean energy lives forever but not in the form of Jane and Bob and Jill. These are some of the concepts, feelings, beliefs that can be discussed at the Death Cafes.

I hope I’m free of all fears of death but there is no way of knowing for sure until the time arrives. I did have the dehydration experience, knocking my head against a concrete floor producing an enormous knot. I was very woozy but went against all advice to go to the hospital even tho I knew mom died in a similar experience. I had no fear of dying; the experience was very liberating. But who knows? Guess I might discuss this at a Death Cafe.

Early Kubler-Ross

Back in the 1970’S I attended a lecture by Elizabeth Kubler Ross in NYC on death and dying. Basically she was the only real advocate for the dying and her main thrust was to urge people to treat the dying in a compassionate manner and NOT to go the usual route of reciting silly “jingles’ on how everything is going to be alright. I hope the included very early video will inspire you to go to the never failing YouTube and type:early lectures of Kubler Ross into the search box and listen to her inspired wisdom on this subject.

I wish I could remember the details of her story of how she was inspired to begin her mission for the dying which was initially very difficult professionally; her peers thought she was a little nuts. I do remember fragments of this story and I hope it is close to the reality of what she spoke that evening in a very large hall, sitting on the edge of the stage with her legs dangling over the edge.

As a psychiatrist in a large hospital she was walking the hall to a dying patients room when she heard an intuitive voice telling her to speak with the female orderly/nurses aid to learn how to care for the dying. She listened to words that later became her philosophy on death and dying. On subsequent days she had experiences with guidance that would appear as human forms around her instructing her to follow through with her new found knowledge on death and dying. The forms would disappear when she tried to pursue them.

I know there is a cassette tape on this lecture because I had one which unfortunately disappeared. Never knew how that happened but if anyone knows of this lecture please let me know. The included video is the closest I have come to the knowledge she spoke of that night.

As I recall it was the Maharishi who introduced her. He started out by saying “I live in a world of twinkling light.” I was immediately blown away because that too was my reality.

As I touched on in an earlier blog “The Unmentionable” I am stunned at the reality of having only one friend who will speak freely about death and dying . Guess I need to discover some Buddhist friends because the Buddha, horrified and inspired by his early experiences with the dead and dying, made it a focus of his philosophy.

Buddhists are taught to meditate on impermanence and death since it is as central to Buddha’s teachings as it is to Kubler Ross. It’s unfortunate in the West we are well taught not to mention the subject; it’s not appropriate in polite company. Strange, since it’s where we are all headed, sooner or later and we never know when.

The Unmentionable


Here we are Over70s teetering on the edge of the twilight zone between life and death and yet many of us are more than reluctant to mention the words death and dying and even less eager to discuss the socially incorrect subjects particularly in the US where philosophically we act as though death is not a viable reality – so let’s ignore it for as long as possible and that usually means right up to the very moment of prolonged death.

By the age of 75+ we have lived full lives, raised our families, enjoyed grandchildren and lived our many adventures. Yes this is a glorious world and we know that we are not immortal and to pretend otherwise is the great denial of the inevitable,

There are so many aspects of death and dying to consider – from Elisabeth Kubler Ross to Sogyal Rinpoche and beyond. This post will focus on a very controversial subject as presented by Ezekiel Emanuel MD in his 10/14 The Atlantic article “Why I Hope to Die At 75”. It was exciting to read his view; basically I am in full agreement.

There are numerous reasons why Emanuel, 57, has made this stand. He quotes Osler’s medical textbook The Principals and Practice of Medicine: “Pneumonia may well be called the friend of the aged. Taken off by it in an acute, short, not often painful illness, the old man escapes those cold gradations of decay so distressing to himself and to his friends.”

Emanuel is not interested in prolonging his life in any manner; I agree and have already decided not to have open heart surgery, chemo or other extreme procedures and I hope to die with whatever comes first to take me. And like Emanuel I will gladly welcome palliative care if needed for pain.

Emanuel thinks everything goes south at a fast rate after 75 years including one’s ability to contribute to work and the world at large. All functions rapidly diminish and there is basically little one can do to extend the good life. Who wants to spend the final years debilitated mentally or physically, living in a residential care facility isolated from all one care about.

Unfortunately this is a difficult subject for most people. I read the first paragraph of this post to an Over70 friend and she implored me to stop, it made her heart ache and she didn’t know a single person who talked about the subject. She went on to say that at 73 she had not made one preparation for death………… will, no adoption arrangements for her pets etc.

Why on earth are we so fearful of death; it is the great liberator. Ignoring its existence does not influence its arrival one way or the other and much is lost by saying it isn’t so, particularly when the avoidance is maintained up to the moment of passing.

There is no one size fits all at the moment of death, the important ideal is to die in peace knowing all your affairs are in order, your loved ones know they are loved and that life has been a glorious blessing with no abiding regrets. This is kind of difficult to accomplish by ignoring death’s existence on the near horizon; death is always walking beside you and needs your friendship not your denial.