Gifted by Grief – An Enlightening Journey
When Jane Duncan Rogers’ husband Philip, died in 2009, grief’s vulnerability and pain of loss initially overwhelmed her despite her background as a personal coach, spiritual practitioner, and psychologist. But over time she came to recognize the gifts grief brings to life and shares them in her courageously moving book, Gifted by Grief, A True Story of Cancer, Loss, and Rebirth.
Tom Morkes, founder of Publisher’s Empire, introduced us as accountability partners. I’m grateful for getting to know this world traveler and participant in Scotland’s spiritual community, Findhorn. Jane began her blogging in 2009 but her writing experience spans decades.
A journal writer for over thirty years, Jane said, “I took inspiration from my Mum who is an artist and used to just turn up in her studio every weekday morning, no matter whether she produced anything worthwhile or not.”
In 1997, Rogers published her first book, Choose Your Thoughts, Change Your Life. Later, she and Philip wrote and published, 60 Ways to Lose/Keep Your Lover. So it was only natural that when Philip received his diagnosis Jane encouraged him to write about his experience.
Jane’s rich life and spiritual seeking provided a base for her to plant the seeds of grief and see them blossom into gifts to benefit many. Her dedication page sums up the book, “To Philip – You were right; love is the answer.”
The first part of the book documents the journey from diagnosis of cancer, multiple attempts to treat the disease, and finally acceptance and preparation for death. Much of this first section is seen from Philip’s eyes through the blogs he wrote during this time.
His writings described the turmoil, doubt, confusion, and anger he felt, even though he was a life long spiritual practitioner and teacher. Jane also struggled, facing not only the loss of her husband, but having to accept she would live her greatest fear, being alone without a husband or children. Yet, through all the trials and suffering the love between the two intensified.
The reader experiences Philip’s death through Jane’s eyes and then walks with her week by week, month by month as she transforms through grief’s crucible to slowly discovers its gifts. Even before these discoveries Jane’s book is filled with moments of light and laughter. Such as during the first casting of Philip’s ashes she “. . .discovered you have to throw ashes in the path of the wind, not against it.”
As time passes, Jane discovers the reality – physical death does not separate her from Philip. On more than one occasion she perceives the unity of non-duality and the oneness of all creation. As she allows herself to fully feel her grief and express her anger, frustration, doubts, and confusion Jane’s heart and mind expands. She learns to “. . . listen to the subtleties of my intuition more and more. . .” and to act on it.
Her path leads directly to living in a mindful way. “Sometimes on top there is a disturbance of feeling or attachment to thoughts but it never affects the underlying presence of still peace.”
Jane comes to understand that “Left to their own devices, without a story being attached, emotions really do blow through of their own accord . . .” After almost two years of emotional ups and downs, Jane is able to write, “Are the feelings real? They feel completely real; but, in fact, it is all mind.”
For too many people, grief is an emotion to be suppressed, hidden, and should pass quickly. Gifted by Grief, engages readers to experience the heroic odyssey of grief.
Anyone who has experienced the loss of a loved one will understand her pain, anger, and revelations. When she rises from the flames, like a phoenix, with insights on life, love, and the oneness of all, we receive the enriching and enlightening gifts of grief.