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.”


See 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.  650-988-9800

Recovering from Childhood Grief, Part IV, Guest blog


DC-3 and Elayne

This is the conclusion of Dr. Elayne Savage’s story, There is to be No Grieving, from The Enneagram of Death – Helpful Insights by the 9 Types of People on Grief, Fear and Death by Elizabeth Wagele, published by the International Enneagram Association in July of 2012. Parts I-III are on this blog site.


Out of the Ashes — A Community of Survivors

Truth be told, each time I’ve told my story, I’ve fantasized someone will recognize the circumstances of the crash and contact me: “I knew someone who survived that crash” or “I know a family who lost someone on that plane.”


And then it happened. The editor of the Mason City Globe Gazette interviewed Lee and me. One by one, members of the Swaledale community stepped forward to share their stories and to describe how deeply affected they are by memories of the day the DC-3 crashed in the cornfield. How neighbors volunteered for search and rescue to save the injured and protect the dead. How their farm tractors pulled ambulances through muddy fields. How they pulled down barn doors to use as stretchers.


I was stunned to learn how this community has been dealing with their own unresolved grief all these years. Just like us! Even the newspaper editor wrote, “Thank you for the opportunity to tell your story and to open another door in my life.” He reflected how our reminiscences are a reminder that people heal at different speeds.


Passing Down Fears

For some of us it is a struggle to move on. And some of us pass our unresolved grief along to our children. I had developed massive fears that loved ones might die and I’d be left alone. And I was passing these fears along to my daughter.


One Mother’s Day brunch when Jocelyn was about twenty-one, we were recalling how she would sob uncontrollably whenever her dad or I were late picking her up from after-school care. She remembers how she agonized that we had died in an accident.


Jocelyn and I made an amazing discovery that day. She remembers outgrowing her fears about death when she was around nine years old. I‘d been working on my own abandonment fears in therapy for two years! I don’t think it’s a coincidence that once my anxiety abated, her fears lessened as well.


My fear of abandonment affected my daughter in another way: I sometimes held back from showing my love for her. I guess I felt if I showed too much love I might lose her, just as I had lost my mother and grandmother.

Overcoming Fears

3 girl photo

Three girl photo

Now I’m the grandmother, Jocelyn is the mother and Cora is the child.

I’ve been working hard to create in my life what I lost in that Iowa cornfield. I’ve been trying to do for my family what my father could not do for his—searching for ways to address our fears and overcome them together.


Because we live so many miles apart, we have created the ritual of “The Three-Girl-Photos.” Ever since Cora was born I insist on taking a photo of the three of us when we are together. After all, we are the surviving women of the family now! The photos are a reminder that each of us has an inherited potential that is unimpeded by the tragedies and limitations of the past.


We can fly—even soar. And carry our dreams into the world.

Dr. Elayne Savage is a practicing psychotherapist, workplace and relationship coach and author of Don’t Take It Personally! The Art of Dealing with Rejection and Breathing Room-Creating Space to Be a Couple.



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New book: “The Enneagram of Death”


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.