08/22/2014 03:02 pm ET Updated Oct 22, 2014

With a Conscience: 'The Other Side'

"The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not 'get over' the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same nor would you want to." -- Elisabeth Kubler Ross

This summer, I attended two wakes. I have to be honest and explain that these two people were not people that I saw or talked to with any consistency. In fact, I saw very little of them over the past couple of years. What I was gently reminded of this week is that people don't have to be in your life on a regular basis for an impact to be made. I am deeply grateful and astounded that both came into my life and with their separate examples saw the value in me and thus, partnerships were formed, allegiances were made and together we made a profound change to a small community but no less important.

My grandmother died at the age of 98. My father died at the age of 74. My mother is 89 refusing to wear a "life alert." That's what I'm used to in my family... longevity and stubbornness. Death in my world has been "reasonable." I'm sad to say for so many others, that has not been the case. When someone dies, you can't help but wonder about the other side and whether we have any control over our existence at all. I am more inclined to believe that we don't. But I also know this... death is the progression of our lives.

Philosophers, clergy will say that death is divine and a release to heaven where we are met with an abundance of love and light. Others will say that death is an extension of the organic, energy, or force that we possess and have with us and then it changes and becomes part of the centrifugal force of nature just in another form. We suffer when we lose someone we love, but the fact is, the hard core fact is they, the person we love, can't suffer any more. I've asked myself many times why some suffer more than others but then Buddhists will say that suffering is universal and in knowing this, we are able to heal because when we know something is universal it's easier to cope.

If you watch the news, death on a large scale is horrific, senseless and unfathomable and there can be no justification. It's interesting how history and death have taught us nothing and as each decade goes by, human beings die at the expense of the greed or evil of their own kind. The only solution in my mind is the continual education of our young to be tolerant, to be kind, to be mindful.

We should contemplate our own death. Here's why: Contemplating our own demise gives us freedom. We are free to take our lives in any direction we want without regret. We learn that human beings, WE, are fragile. So if there are regrets, or fears then we need to get to busy with the present. That is extremely hard to do when our responsibilities take over or personal sensibilities. This is when our health suffers. This is when we suffer because we are fighting within ourselves for our own self worth. A life without regrets may seem unrealistic or unnatural but as I'm finding out, it is healthier and creates a sense of peace. Easier said than done, I know. Some are more successful at it than others but death can be our catalyst, at any age, to follow what makes us passionate.

When I was young, I was terribly afraid of death. Young people should be. The fear keeps them from doing something terribly, fatally stupid... or so we believe. We've all taken ridiculous chances in our youth and, luckily, we lived to tell the tales.

The more people cross my path, I am grateful for their contribution and their kindness. At any given moment in time, we can have an impact on another person's well-being. Death has become much more meaningful and life has become much more meaningful. We understand what true love is. We understand that even in our grief, we are capable of wonderful things. Why? Those we lost would want it so. Death gives us these gifts if we take the time to accept them. We can change our focus at any time.

So hear this... I want show tunes. Lots of singing of show tunes, loudly. I want everyone eating pizza and drinking beer. I want everyone wearing their best shoes or better yet, NEW shoes. Oh and there had better be dancing, lots of dancing. Disco music, say, Gloria Gaynor or Donna Summer and Michael Jackson, some Billy Joel too. Take the ashes and release them somewhere near Broadway... theater row... hopefully in like another 50 to 100 years. As summer wanes, and the air starts getting slightly chilled, my heart is full. My heart is stronger, my world is much richer, because of all of the people who have crossed my path.

"The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep." -- Robert Frost