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How to Cope with Death--and Live Life--with a Little More "Joie David"


How to Cope with Death--and Live Life--with a Little More "Joie David"

RI lifestyle photographer_1131
RI lifestyle photographer_1131

Our family is groping through the darkness, trying to reorient ourselves after the sudden loss of my luminous cousin, David, on October 28th.

(You may remember David from this post about the morning I spent with him leading up to his wedding.)

I've never known anybody with a laugh quite so infectious, an aliveness quite so intense.  He was deep and he was light and it's perhaps his mastery of those two extremes that most fascinated me about him.

David Pearson Deep and Light
David Pearson Deep and Light

My cousin believed that life is "the soul's playground"...a RIDE between the nursery and the morgue.

He used to ask, "Are you enjoying the ride?"

It brings us comfort to know he packed more living into his 39 years than most could pack into two hundred.


My father said it best when he said:

"We've had SO many wonderful relatives and friends send their condolences and love to our family.  For that we are eternally thankful, and that is an incredibly helpful ingredient in our healing process.

But there are a lot of people here today [at his services or on this web page] who never met David.  You are here because you are sorry for our loss.

We are sorry for YOU, because you didn't have the pleasure of knowing one of our favorite people."

RI lifestyle photographer_1130
RI lifestyle photographer_1130

It's been really moving to see how many people have stepped forward since David's death to say, "that man changed my life."

I wrote the eulogy below in an attempt to preserve some of the big ideas David lived by...ideas he was always so enthusiastic about sharing.

I would like David's message to continue on and to spread as far as possible, which is why I've elected to record and share the eulogy here.

For those who have loved David:  may this eulogy help you cope.

For those with the misfortune of never having known him:  may this eulogy help you live.

Intense love,




Coming to Terms with "Everything Happens for a Reason"

I've never been interested in figuring out which religion is correct in their stories about God.  I do believe there is a higher power at play in my life and in yours, and I don't think it matters what we call it.  Call it God, call it Uni-verse, call it Buddha, Allah, Subconscious, Coincidence, Synchronicity, Love - call it whatever you want to call it:  I believe it will be there regardless of whether you call it anything.

What HAS been a hard pill for me to swallow on my own spiritual journey is the fact that bad things happen to good people.  If God loves us and God is omnipotent, then, honestly, God, where do You get off allowing innocent people to suffer?

The very idea of bad things happening to good people pounds my heart with anger and quickens my breathing because it's just one more reminder that, despite the copious amount of energy I've put towards inhaling good news and exhaling bad news my whole life, I really am in control of almost nothing.

Sometimes, God/Universe/Buddah/Allah/Zen is very difficult for us humans to understand.

One year ago today (12/11/11), my radiant 75-year-old grandmother died fairly suddenly, leaving 25 of her devastated family members speechless on the floor of her small hospital room.

A head-on collision with the "everything happens for a reason" statement leaves you mangled by the side of the road, staring up at the heavens, defeatedly asking, "WHY?"

I believe these collisions happen at a fork in the road. You may either go left towards bitterness, anger and defeat, or you may go right and try to find the silver lining.

Sometimes, God/Universe/Buddah/Allah/Zen is maddeningly evasive.

The bitter and angry response to heartbreak is seductive.  My grandmother worked her whole life to support not only her own seven kids and my tirelessly passionate immigrant grandfather, but dozens of extended family members too.  Her retirement was "supposed to" be spectacular.  She was "supposed to" become a snazzy old lady in the Red Hat society.  She was "supposed to" teach her great-grandkids to make chocolate breads on her bright blue formica countertops.

She wasn't "supposed to" die.  It "could have" been prevented, if only she hadn't been so good at smiling through pain.

But I think that when you love someone, you refuse to allow their death to be without reason. You refuse to allow their ordeals to have been unnecessary.

Memere's death changed my life.

Holding her hand as the clock expired on her time on this earth instilled in me a sense of urgency:  How do I want MY children and grandchildren to remember me?  What is my purpose and am I living it?  Or am I shrinking back in fear of putting myself out there?

And so, over the past year, I've moved towards my fears.

Writing Memere's eulogy about her willingness to love unreservedly forced me to own up to the ways that I have held back from love in order to protect myself.  When either I or my husband is gone, I want to know that I held nothing back.

And so, I've taken new risks in love.

It brings me to cathartic tears to consider all of the breakthroughs that have happened for me in the last 365 days, all stemming from epiphanies I had when Mem passed.

So now I wonder:  what if her "unnecessary" death was, in fact, necessary?  What if she HAD done everything she was meant to do in this life?  What if she never wanted to be a member of the red hat society anyway?  What if her final mission on this earth was to teach us a few things by leaving it?

They say that everything happens for a reason.  I believe that sometimes it's up to US to find that reason.Maybe that decision - that refusal to allow anybody we love to suffer in vain - maybe THAT is where God hides when bad things happen to good people.

Though we cannot control the fact that sad things happen to good people, we CAN control how we respond to those things.  In fact, it's the ONLY thing within our control.


I dedicate this post with profound appreciation to my beloved and effervescent Memere, Lucille Mabel Cloutier Bouyssou, who we lost one year ago today.

The tears on my keyboard are a sign of how much Memere's life meant to me. The very fact that this blog exists is a sign of how much her death impacted me.

I hope everybody who loved her has grown in some way from her death, as we all have grown from her life.

Basking in the radiance of her eternal smile,