Dead Awake A Love Story

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February 12, 2024

Dear Friends, When I think of Valentine’s Day, I think of my love experiences with the many people who have graced my life. Not always traditional, yet real.

Fourteen years ago, my Valentine’s message was a love letter to my daughter, Lisa, who had suddenly passed away on April 1. 2008, two years before, of a pulmonary embolism.

I copied that letter below. I learned more about love these years after Lisa left us than ever. I was broken open in millions of pieces and stayed grounded in being alive and carrying on. That was not an easy job, but I knew this experience was not just for me.

This time since has helped me be more humble, real, open, receiving and giving love like never before. 

When the heart breaks, we have an opportunity to be more heart-centered. 

Our ego keeps us going through life, protecting and deflecting, and making everything all right that is not. When we are shattered, the ego is not in control, and we can grow more personally and spiritually. 

I paid close attention to my process, learned to love myself through this incredibly challenging survival time, and focused on thriving again. I was not a victim. Mothers lose children every day. Falling apart challenged me to stay strong and build a powerful foundation of love, trust, gratitude, and grace. I was grateful I had developed Be The Medicine, with all its teachings, tools, and practices. I used every single one. Living them saved my life and brought me back to wholeness again. 

It was years of grieving and growth, pain and love. I trusted myself and the divine when many might falter. This was the greatest learning and gift of all. I was always held and loved and had to do my part to put myself back together again. 

The healing and learning I have had since Lisa’s death has been profound. Living through all I had and thriving again brings humility, patience, and understanding that has served me and many I have supported on their journey. The two biggest lessons were to love myself through everything and allow people to give to me.

Dead Awake: A Love Story to My Daughter Lisa 1/10/2010

Twenty-two months ago, on April 1, 2008, my sweet daughter Lisa, my baby at 29, left us and journeyed to the next world. I have been journaling my process of awakening and healing and reflecting on how all of us deal with loss and how we can reclaim life. 

All forty-one years of spiritual, wisdom, and personal healing work before this day prepared me to awaken from a sleep I did not know I was still in. 

On my personal journey to Be The Medicine, I had deliberately practiced and surrendered and let go of the world and its trappings, people, ego, roles and rules, beliefs and fears in myriad ways. With Lisa’s passing, I was challenged to let go of everything I knew and become even more. 

On the day of Lisa’s funeral, my mother abandoned and attacked me viciously and for months to come. I also needed to give up full-time work for as long as it took and find ways to survive, live, and heal. My life prepared me to surrender to what was needed and call for and trust that I would be held when I let go.

So many gifts came along with the earth-shattering pain. Gratitude abounds every moment. 

Three years before Lisa died, in March 2005, I sold my home of twenty-one years and minimized what was a large healing center and practice so I could take a sabbatical. I let go of full-time teaching and healing to take time to be and integrate my life’s work into a cohesive program and books.

I thought it would take maybe six months to a year—rabbit consciousness. The journey was not so easy. Although I knew my astrology spoke of a complete transformation in the next several years, I could never have been prepared for what it would take.

I was surprised by the continuous trauma, challenges, and loss that followed. I felt like a machine gun was fixed on me, firing rounds without many breaks. I knew there were no bullets; they were illusions, yet they felt real and opened me more with each hit.

I swayed like a cartoon character full of holes and kept walking and standing. Few people knew this-not that I hid it, just that I kept going. 

I knew that my life purpose was to learn through experience how to help others make it through these changing times. I am so glad we do not know how things will change ahead of time. 

My life before this was also not easy, and I was a master at making lemonade out of lemons. I was also very tired of having to do this. 

I have always been the energizer bunny who kept going. Since a little girl I have been called Suzy Sunshine who sees rainbows with the pot of gold at the other side of stormy times. Those rainbows were nowhere in sight for years. 

I fell apart and came back together regularly. I felt like Humpty Dumpty and was grateful when the pieces eventually came back together until I fell apart again. 

I am grateful for all the lessons and amazing companions with me through this time. There were life-changing relationships with people, teachers, and students.

Little did I know that Be The Medicine would come together from these experiences, not from sitting at a desk with a pretty view. I learned to receive help and support more than ever before.

I experienced my soul’s purpose and lessons from the continuous losses and challenges. I faced each one and kept going. Not always pretty or graceful, I felt like I was being ripped apart and not in neat pieces that would ever come together in the same form. 

In 2008, after three years of integrating my experiences and research and moving three times, I was ready to bring out Be The Medicine. I had support from two international leaders in my work and felt excited to proceed. My classes were large and well-received.

More surprises unfolded that month. After I wrote my March 2008 newsletter announcing new beginnings, I heard a voice – You have more healing to do first. 

Four days later, Lisa died.  A new level of healing was about to occur.

The first month I kept going, doing some things, going to meetings-not knowing what else to do. I was like a soldier who was hit with a near-mortal wound and stayed in the battle until they went down.

I was in shock and disbelief, not knowing how to live while dying inside. 

Four weeks after Lisa’s death, I thought I could teach two scheduled seminars. I went to Woodstock, NY, a few days early, all set up to teach. These were to be my last before I allowed myself to let go and take time off to heal totally. 

My body and soul had another plan. I found myself with bronchitis the day before the first class.  This was a defining moment. I knew I had a choice to stop before I was stopped and could not come back. I could not hold energy for a group of people and offer anything. I needed to take care of myself.

I canceled and went to bed. Oxygen mask on for as long as I needed. 

A lovely friend in Woodstock, NY, gave me refuge in her master suite, which had a steam shower and a gorgeous view. My healing began. I learned how strong it was to stop and heal. I had been doing this all along, or I would not have made it this far, but this was a total time-out—a forced retirement. 

I came out in spurts after that. At times, teaching amazing classes or working with people in sessions. Just as powerfully, I had to take long or short breaks and do more self-care and healing. For three months now, I have been full of energy. Lisa helped me complete my healing along with apprentices and spiritual support. 

Lisa has been my teacher and guide on earth and now in heaven. She came to me the moment she left her body while she was in the ambulance. “I’m gone, Mom”, she said. I missed her first cry coming into this life, as she was a c-section, but she was sure to be with me the moment she left. 

She held me in the family waiting room in the ER while the doctors were supposed to be reviving her. A wave of love came over me. She told me how much she loved me while her father, sister, and stepmother asked me to help. 

I could not tell them she was already gone and here with us. I waited for the doctor to tell them. In these past twenty-two months, I have learned more about life and death on earth and in heaven than I ever dreamed.

Lisa has been helping so many others and me from the other side. I receive calls from clients and students regularly about their experiences with her. When psychic friends told me over the years that one of my daughters would be working with me, I never imagined it this way, So when you read the Be the Medicine blogs, newsletters, and books, know it all comes from deep experience and love. 

I share my heart and journey, hoping it opens you to your life and love more. This is my life purpose and what brought me back from the abyss of deep grief. 

At Lisa’s funeral, I spoke of how her death was about love. I saw how her leaving so suddenly and unexpectedly opened the hearts of many. This is one of her life’s purposes.  I watched some people fall apart and some wake up and heal because of Lisa. 

I can let her go no matter how much it hurts and how much I miss having her here to hold because I honor her soul’s journey. And honestly, my friends, I have no choice. She left, and we are here – that is the truth.

To hold on hurts her and me. So, I bless her life and her new life and continue to learn, grow, and love her more. Being her mother has been the greatest honor and gift. She is never far away and comes whenever she wants to speak to me or let me know she is here. 

I have witnessed all of us break our hearts open from this loss, and more love pours out to help all. Love is the healer and awakened. Do not be afraid of love or feeling, or hurting. 

I have taken the time and space needed to heal. The result is that I am fully here again, better than before. All the losses have brought multiple rainbows and pots of gold to share with all of you over these next months and years. 

I have learned to be the tortoise instead of the hare, which has made all the difference. More is lived, learned, and accomplished from this place of being. 

So today, I honor Lisa Michelle Zwiren, our Sweetli, and each of us for our bravery in being, living, and learning. I also honor and thank each person here on earth who has held me dear through this time and all those in heaven who loved and held me and helped to keep me alive so I could finish this journey with you here. 

My mom is back; by the way-I learned how death affects everyone differently, and it is their pain and wounding that reacts this way. 

For you, Dear Readers and Friends, Do your best to learn to let go of beliefs, fears, attachments, self-importance, pity, illness, pain, and depression that keep you stuck. 

Reclaim the beautiful, amazing, unique you. This is the spiritual journey of awakening and becoming. It happens through healing, letting go, and embracing life with purpose. 

Take time. Slow down. Be present. Have fun. Love everyone-especially yourself. Be love. Be patient and kind to yourself and others. We are all on this journey together. No matter what it may seem, not one person has it easy. 

Life is about loving, learning, living, and dying. Make the most of each juicy moment. Today is all we have. Live it well—blessings to all. 

Be the Medicine, Live the Power of You! 

In Love and Joy! Janet StraightArrow Monday, February 1, 2010 [email protected]


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