Autism Treatment Center of America®

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The Perfect Death

February 29, 2008

Dear Samahria, Bears, Clyde, William & Zoe,

I hoped to write you each a thank-you note, but between running two Son-Rise programs and life in general, I decided a group letter would suffice. On October 19, 2007, my precious thirteen year old daughter died. The autopsy showed pneumonia, though I believe otherwise. Clyde & William, I want to thank you so much for the dialogues and consultations I had with you nearly two years ago. In preparation for Sara’s death I was wanting to figure out why her dying seemed so sad. My fear was that my sadness would get in the way of my being present for her as she died. I wanted to be able to talk and sing and read and play with her lovingly and happily as she died. I thought I was unable to change my beliefs after our sessions. But, when I went to wake Sara on October 19th, and found her dead, I was very much in the present. I was calm and filled with gratitude for our time together. The timing of her death came completely unexpectedly, so I didn’t go through her dying with her. But the work I did on being present for Sara helped me be happily and easily present for my other ten children as they dealt with her death. Thank you for your loving questions and attention.

Bears, though I have not spent much time with you in person, I feel like I know you from your books and tapes that have taught me so much. I love your philosophy. I attended the Son-Rise Start-Up Program and Maximum Impact, and started programs for three of my children. Sara was one of the children, and though we were always close, our last two years together in the Son-Rise room were the most loving, fun and happy times we had. And Sara was able to die in her prime. She had learned to speak ten words, push her wheelchair with one hand, control one hand enough to paint and turn the page of a book-the results of a process that gave us both great joy! I thank you for that gift. Also, I want to tell you something I think is interesting. I went to the Exceptional Woman Program in September, 2007, several weeks before Sara died. Before I left the Option Institute, I bought your CD “Fearless.” In it you ask a group of people how they think they are going to die. I heard that question and was immediately thinking about how I wanted to die, all day, everyday, for the next two weeks. At the end of the two weeks, Sara unexpectedly died almost exactly the way I had decided I want to die: at home, peacefully in my sleep, with little or no illness, with family around-we had a glorious evening the day before she died with laughter and fun and most of the family. Since she died I have had no interest in entertaining your question. I think my answering your question in my mind was my preparation for her impending death. Because she died in the best way I could imagine for myself, we called her death “the perfect death.” For a couple of months one of my youngest children told clerks, tellers, and anyone who would listen that his sister had died “the perfect death,” leaving people speechless. Thank you for helping me and my son see that perspective.

Samahria, I left the Exceptional Woman Program in September feeling so strong and empowered. That strength was a lot of what helped me through a challenging time. So much of the class was helpful, especially the session on loss and being held and rocked by another woman. The feeling of being held was so wonderful and I imagined myself in her arms several times during October & November. I wanted to hold Sara and offer her that same enveloping warmth and love as she died. (I did do that before she died.) I wasn’t able to hold her as she passed, so I held and rocked and shared soft intimate words with her after she died, until we were physically parted. It was so beautiful. Thank you.

Also, Samahria, you said something that made such a difference for me. You said something to the effect that you did not know exactly how you would react when Bears died, and you were going to honor however you felt and reacted. That helped me to be accepting of all my feelings. I feel grateful, loving and happy when I think of Sara, and I also tear up easily, sometimes. It all feels awesome. Now my challenge is to get back to taking care of me first. I lost that lesson between Sara’s death, the holidays, and the Son-Rise programs.

And Zoe, I absolutely love you and thank you for your love and joy. When I called you and told you about Sara, even though we only talked five minutes, I felt so unconditionally loved, appreciated and heard. Thank you, dear friend. I don’t think I will ever forget that conversation!

Keep up the good work. I love you all!

Lovingly,
Alice Mansfield