Death 9 Ways for Memorial Day


NineKindsReapersIn honor of Memorial Day later this month, here is a drawing of reapers of 9 personalities from my book, The Enneagram of Death – Helpful Insights on Grief, Fear, and Dying by the 9 Types of People. This book is for people who are mourning, afraid of their own death or the death of a loved one, or interested in ’s accounts of interesting and meaningful experiences with death and dying.

If the words are hard to read, here is what the reapers say:

1-Perfectionist – “I’m sorry. No exceptions.”

2-Helper – “Come, my darling. I NEED you!”

3-Achiever – “Perhaps you’d like to make me an offer?”

4-Romantic – “I promise you eternal tragedy and beauty.”

5-Observer – “Aren’t you curious about what’s beyond?”

6-Questioner – “Wanna argue about it? Go ahead.”

7-Adventurer – “It’s the ultimate adventure!”

8-Asserter – “I take no prisoners.”

9-Peace keeper – “Take my hand, Sweetie.”

         The following excerpts from The Career Within You by E. Wagele and Ingrid Stabb expresses some attitudes toward death from some 4-Romantics’ perspectives:

• Betty was able to drink in the aesthetic expressions of her Romantic friend and intuit his feelings when he faced death from AIDS. He wanted to live as he was dying, and he wanted her to meet him on an emotional level. When he was near death he needed nursing, hugging, and honesty—and she could do that, too. She could talk with him about death, which most of his other friends were unable to do.

• When Kate worked in a cemetery, she helped people understand the choices they were making. Should they put Grandpa in the ground? Would it be okay to put him in a triple grave or a double grave? She would interpret the symbolism of their choices, explain the difference between having a memorial or a bronze plaque, and help them understand what they’d be giving and receiving.

Since Tiffany is drawn to drama, life and death, joy and grief, and the macabre, unusual, and offbeat. She has no problem working in crime-scene clean up or in a mortuary. Tiffany doesn’t want to keep the realities of life hidden.

• Romantics don’t plod through life or shy away from intensity. Some face danger or even death working in a country going through a revolution if it means making the world a better place. Allan faced dangers when he performed acts of compassion around the world: “I worked in countries where people were being killed and I had to think fast or I might be killed myself.”

4-Reaper

See http://ewagele.com to buy and to read reviews.

Cartoon: the 4-Romantic reaper from The Enneagram of Death

Saturday May 25, 2013 at 7:30 Elizabeth will give a book talk on THE ENNEAGRAM OF DEATH in Mountain View CA. http://www.eastwest.com  650-988-9800

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Guest blog by Charlotte Melleno: “If you cry, I will never tell you how I feel.” Part III


Frank

Frank

This story about an Enneagram 5-Observer type from The Enneagram of Death – Helpful Insights by the 9 Types of People on Grief, Fear, and Dying  is infused by the feelings and style if its Enneagram 4-Romantic author.

When Frank was first diagnosed, I asked if Don could help him. He said, “Don has to take care of his mother, and besides, we don’t love each other.” I said, “That’s baloney. He loves you and I think your willingness to spend ten years of Saturday nights with anyone is, in some way, a love connection for you.” He never really admitted that, but the week before his death he told me how grateful he felt to Don for all his support and how surprised he was at Don’s generosity. Frank was so fearful of being encroached on by anyone and was so suspicious of people’s love for him, he barely gave it credence. He found rejection and struggle a headier and more exciting, albeit painful, experience.

He talked with us about his funeral arrangements and intended to look into Hospice and make a will. All of this was normal Frank, tried and true.

What surprised me was the person who emerged after he was given the news—an open and unguarded man—one I had rarely seen since we first met him thirty-six years prior in an encounter group at San Francisco State. His father, a high-ranking officer, who didn’t meet Frank until his second birthday, had denigrated his early, loving relationship to his mother, and called him a sissy when Frank showed more interest in books and music than sports. Since his father put down self-expression and his mother took any expression of negative feelings personally, he had developed a poker face by the time he was six. Then, the fledgling human potential movement opened Frank briefly to a beautiful vulnerability that I fell in love with. Now, these two Franks braided together in an unusual manner. Once unwilling to express his needs for fear of indicating weakness, he now drew up a list of simple house rules for visitors, beginning with a brief explanation of his illness. He asked for help in an assertive and direct manner:

Please put food back in the refrigerator exactly where you found it.

Please hang up any clothes, books, or items you may have moved during your visit.

Please take down the trash when you leave.

 

At the time, I’d been ill for almost four years and many household chores had become difficult, but I never thought to hand out a list to my friends asking them to be mindful in order to ease my physical suffering. He was teaching me something about being entitled to ask for help.

More surprising was how the news shook the starch out of him and loosened his tongue. He began to talk with other people in an easy, eager, and comfortable manner. Our mutual friends had never seen him so easy-going nor heard him disclose his feelings in such a vulnerable manner, accompanied by dark humor.

He had never cared much about money nor saved for retirement and only began to make more than a living wage in the last ten years of his life. His main ride at sixty-six was still a motorcycle. He didn’t own property and had feared that once he grew old he’d have to depend on the kindness of friends or move into a senior residence like the one he had managed as a facilities director in his early forties. It would take more than his social security to feed his love of travel, learning, and adventure. He had retired as a young man—having adventures, visiting exotic countries—and only buckled down when our son was born shortly before his fortieth birthday. “There’s a certain relief in going out before I have to worry about how I’ll support my old age.”

I realized I had passed his test when I didn’t cry after he told me his diagnosis. Over the next month, he called me more often than he had in the previous six. Sometimes, just to give me the news of the day; the family member he had told, how different it felt to connect with other people, the internal freedom he had never known. The watchfulness deep in the back of his skull was gone.

“I spoke to Mary Lou yesterday,” he said, referring to his closest Aunt, who had, herself, been living and dying with lung cancer over the past year. “After she got sick, I began to call less and less. I didn’t know what to say. Poor Mary Lou.” They had been so close when he was small. She was only twelve years older, his father’s little sister. “Now, we’re like Chatty Kathy,” a talking doll from the nineteen-fifties, “We don’t want to stop.”

I heard the pleasure in his voice and realized he was also talking about us. “No one else knows what to do with me,” he said. “They’re all giving me advice. I’m just delighted with you.” Shortly after, I received a text, “…a bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck.” These acts of tender openness meant the world to me. It was as if his dying had opened a vault, a safety deposit box.

OpenVault

Charlotte Melleno is a Marriage and Family Therapist living in San Francisco CA.

Read Part IV of on this blog, the last installment, on December 25.

Visit Elizabeth’s updated web site to check out her books, CD, articles on Beethoven and introverts, cartoons  and videos, and Famous Types page.

Read What I Learned about Prisons at My School Reunion and “The Enneagram as a Standard for the DSM” in Elizabeth’s recent Psychology Today blogs.

Save the date for  FINDING OUR WAY HOME February 9, 2013 in Chicago with Elizabeth and Ruthie Landis. A day long workshop. Please see https://ewagele.wordpress.com/about/

On May 25, Memorial Day weekend, Saturday at 7:30, Elizabeth will speak in the South Bay Area in California. Save that date too.

New book: “The Enneagram of Death”


Image

When people ask me how I got the idea to write about death, I tell them I wanted to explore the differences in the ways the 9 Enneagram personality types feel and express their deep emotions. I was interested in the intensity of our feelings when we’re confronted with our own fear of death or when we’re  grieving or dying ourself, or close to someone who is dying.

Probably the first time I really understood the word death was when I was 5 or 6 and tried to save a tiny baby bird that had fallen out of a nest. I loved this little bird. I nursed it, hoping it would grow big and strong enough to release. But it died and I was devastated.

Death became a mystery to ponder, to fear, and to grapple with. My father and I discussed it together. My mother hated the subject. I couldn’t talk about it with her. How could she not be curious about death?

So early on, I found out death affects people in different ways. When the stories, essay, and poems for my book started coming in, some of the contributors had successfully healed great fear or grief and they did so by plunging themselves deeply into their feelings and coming out the other side. Some at first had taken refuge in defense mechanisms, but with the help of the Enneagram were able to perceive these defenses and change course. I found out the key to being less frightened is to let yourself feel deeply.

Many of us are afraid of our own demise and the loss of loved ones, though some of us may not realize it because we avoid thinking about the end of life. But neither fear nor avoidance changes death’s reality. A third relationship to death, however, exemplified in many of the contributions in this book, is to engage with it to the extent we overcome the fear. Then a precious new beginning is possible and we can release the energy previously held back by fear.

Some of the signs of resisting true feelings are:

• spacing out (taking drugs, excessive drinking, eating, TV, etc., so as to not feel anything),

• restlessness of the mind (distracting oneself by excessive worrying, fretting, pessimism, or inner torment), and

• excessive doing (keeping busy to avoid pain).

In a few cases, the subjects of the stories never do recognize they are avoiding feeling their true feelings; these stories are helpful, too.

This press release tells about the International Enneagram Association publishing The Enneagram of Death and includes some short reviews of the book. There’s also more information to the left of this blog.