Grief Talk w/ Vonne Solis

Ep. 59 Leaning Into Our Mortality – Why We Should Contemplate Death

October 18, 2023 Vonne Solis/Shari Otteman Season 3 Episode 59
Ep. 59 Leaning Into Our Mortality – Why We Should Contemplate Death
Grief Talk w/ Vonne Solis
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Grief Talk w/ Vonne Solis
Ep. 59 Leaning Into Our Mortality – Why We Should Contemplate Death
Oct 18, 2023 Season 3 Episode 59
Vonne Solis/Shari Otteman

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With a Master’s in Divinity and Board Certified with Christian Professional & Pastoral Counselors, my guest Shari Otteman is a Hospice Chaplain, Spiritual Counselor and Community Celebrant. Shari is passionate about spiritual health and helping her community thoughtfully interact with their own and their loved ones' mortality.

Shari founded Aspen Roots Care and Counseling to provide both in-person and virtual counselling sessions and education on end-of-life planning, spiritual health and more. Her biggest passion is assisting loved ones with planning a memorial service, writing a eulogy, and mourning their loss within their community.

Tune in for this fabulous, fun and educational conversation on all things dying, death and beyond with Shari.  Who really is an angel on earth!

Connect with Shari:

Connect with Vonne:

Dr. John Lerma (website being updated)
Caitlin Doughty

Grief, end-of-life planning, and spiritual health with a hospice Chaplain. (0:00)
Spiritual care and support in healthcare. (1:10)
Healthcare communication and spiritual abuse recovery. (6:45)
Spiritual abuse and its impact on individuals. (12:05)
Spirituality and community. (15:54)
Spirituality, mortality, and personal growth. (21:51)
Embracing mortality and living in the moment. (27:31)
Embracing death and finding peace. (34:07)
Afterlife communication and mediumship. (39:31)
Death, grief, and personal experiences with passing. (44:58)
End-of-life planning, DNR, and disenfranchised grief. (51:13)
Healing, spirituality, and self-love. (1:00:06)
Spiritual counselling and personal growth. (1:06:36)

Subscribe to the podcast! Share your favourite episodes! Connect with Vonne on LinkedIn and Facebook.

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Send us a Text Message.

With a Master’s in Divinity and Board Certified with Christian Professional & Pastoral Counselors, my guest Shari Otteman is a Hospice Chaplain, Spiritual Counselor and Community Celebrant. Shari is passionate about spiritual health and helping her community thoughtfully interact with their own and their loved ones' mortality.

Shari founded Aspen Roots Care and Counseling to provide both in-person and virtual counselling sessions and education on end-of-life planning, spiritual health and more. Her biggest passion is assisting loved ones with planning a memorial service, writing a eulogy, and mourning their loss within their community.

Tune in for this fabulous, fun and educational conversation on all things dying, death and beyond with Shari.  Who really is an angel on earth!

Connect with Shari:

Connect with Vonne:

Dr. John Lerma (website being updated)
Caitlin Doughty

Grief, end-of-life planning, and spiritual health with a hospice Chaplain. (0:00)
Spiritual care and support in healthcare. (1:10)
Healthcare communication and spiritual abuse recovery. (6:45)
Spiritual abuse and its impact on individuals. (12:05)
Spirituality and community. (15:54)
Spirituality, mortality, and personal growth. (21:51)
Embracing mortality and living in the moment. (27:31)
Embracing death and finding peace. (34:07)
Afterlife communication and mediumship. (39:31)
Death, grief, and personal experiences with passing. (44:58)
End-of-life planning, DNR, and disenfranchised grief. (51:13)
Healing, spirituality, and self-love. (1:00:06)
Spiritual counselling and personal growth. (1:06:36)

Subscribe to the podcast! Share your favourite episodes! Connect with Vonne on LinkedIn and Facebook.

Vonne Solis  0:00  
Welcome to another episode of Grief Talk. Everything you want to know about grief and more. I'm your host, Vonne Solis. As an author, mentor and bereaved mom since 2005, through guest interviews and coaching, here's where you'll always get great content that is inspiring and practical to help you heal after lost. 

Today's guest is Shari Otteman. With a master's in Divinity and board certified with Christian professional and pastoral counselors, Shari is a hospice chaplain, spiritual counsellor and community celebrant. Shari is passionate about spiritual health and helping her community thoughtfully interact with their own and their loved ones mortality. Shari founded Aspen Roots Care and Counseling and provides both in person and virtual counselling sessions and education on end of life planning, spiritual health and more. Her biggest passion is assisting loved ones with planning a memorial service, writing a eulogy and mourning their loss within their community. 

Okay, so welcome to the show. Shari. As I said to you just before we started, I have been so excited to talk to you. And I mean that with all my heart.

Shari Otteman  1:01  
Oh, I am so excited and flattered Vonne. I've really enjoyed getting to know you through your podcasts lately. And I just, I love anytime we can sort of air what's going on deep in our hearts and deep in our spirits and engage people in that conversation. It's a gift. So thank you for what you do. And thanks for letting me be here and hello audience.

Vonne Solis  1:30  
Absolutely, Shari. So audience one of the things that drew me to Shari is we connected on a networking site. I'll be quite honest about that. Was the fact that Shari, you are a chaplain. You're female, you're young, and I'm like, Okay, I have got to talk to this woman. And we had a nice little chat on Zoom and connected instantly. And have lots and lots of shared thoughts and we're going to be getting to that today audience. And I just want to for a quick recap, just remind the audience, that you are Shari, a healthcare chaplain, spiritual counselor, community celebrant. We're gonna get into what all of that is as I invite you to just tell us a little bit more about what you're currently doing, and basically how you serve your clients today.

Shari Otteman  2:20  
Yeah, absolutely. So I've been a healthcare Chaplain for about four years and currently in the hospice field. So doing full-time hospice chaplaincy. About half the time with patients that are in a facility and half the time with patients that are in their own homes. So if you don't know a healthcare Chaplain is really just there to provide spiritual support, encouragement, be a liaison for community spiritual encouragers and supporters, to patients and families going through difficult times in a healthcare setting. And obviously, those that are going through end of life stressors in a hospice setting. So that it's just, it's a career that I feel like was made for me or better. I was made for that career. It's, it's lovely. 

One of the things I started to realize, though, is that as fewer and fewer of us are going to church, there is sort of a lack in our communities of spiritual helpers. So I get to meet these people in hospice and health care when they are in the midst of sometimes the most horrible experience of their lives, or, you know, it's a real crisis situation. But if they aren't in crisis, how are these people in the community, getting spiritual care and spiritual support? So, last February 2022, I opened my own business, Aspen roots Care and Counseling. And really, I just tried to provide that chaplaincy model of spiritual support to my community through counseling sessions, funeral Memorial planning, free education and seminar events. Sort of anything and everything I can think of to nurture our communities in a place that I think we really, really need it right now.

Vonne Solis  4:02  
Right, so my next crisis, I'm calling you. And when I say that, I mean, I mean, you know, we're not, we don't have direction when something hits us for the first time and suddenly. Or when something hits us and I've had subsequent losses to losing my daughter in 2005. So for the audience that may not know, I was actually introduced to grief in 2005 when my daughter, Janaya at age 22, took her life. 

So before that and we're going to be talking a little bit about this today Shari, before that, I had no knowledge of grief. I really didn't understand it. I didn't think about it. I only thought about death in terms of very existential. And I was, I had a spiritual practice. And, you know, at that point, it had been for 23 years. And so, you know, we, a lot of us in that spiritual practice it's really great to sit there and ponder death and ongoing consciousness and so on when it hasn't been a reality for you. And when it has become a reality for you, it's still great to ponder all that but for me, it took on a completely different meaning.

Now, I really wanted to know if there was an afterlife. Now I really, really wanted to know where my daughter was. Now I really wanted to know, how could I connect with her? Was it even possible? What did she feel in her last moments? Who met her? You know? Who met her? Was she alone? Was she sad? Did all of her pain go away? So these are all sorts of questions that we may not think about by choice, or because we're just not thinking about it when we're alive. 

So I just want to say hats off to you for working in this field. Because it takes a very, very certain type of individual to have the care and compassion. And you don't always see that in the medical field. And you might want to speak to that a little bit as we go into our next, the next segment here, because I would like to get your thoughts on that. And this is not attacking the medical field. It was when I was training back in 2006, for personal support, it was a health care model, where you were not allowed to show any compassion and empathy. Or explain your own lived experience. And it was not a model for me and I had to leave it. 

Can you speak to that a little bit? You know, even when you talk about opening up Aspen Roots Counseling, expand on that a little bit. What was missing for you that you are now providing through your own services?

Shari Otteman  6:38  
Oh, so much to unpack Vonne.

Vonne Solis  6:40  
I know.

Shari Otteman  6:41  
All this experience and wisdom, and I just so enjoy it. So yeah, the healthcare model is trying to adapt. So previously, we had this sort of parental figure was your doctor, and you did what they said, and you took their advice, and they were the expert, and you are the recipient, and that was your relationship, right? Then there have been other models where it's sort of a parallel process. Like, well, why don't you tell me what you need. And well, we'll both kind of go our own ways. Some of those have fallen through the wayside. They are trying to move towards a more collaborative approach, right? And this is where you get to like, you have to be your own advocate. You have to show up prepared for your doctor's appointments. And then their responsibility is I have to actually listen and respond and not just be the expert, but be the other human in the room. 

So there are some health care providers that are naturally very gifted at this. Who got into this field, because they felt so drawn to helping people because they were already empathic individuals. And there are some who are not naturally gifted at all. They got into the healthcare field because they were good students. And they could memorize information, and they rightly so, wanted to make a living. 

So one of the lovely things that healthcare chaplains have been invited to do in recent years in hospital settings anyway, is to become part of training our healthcare professionals on what we call therapeutic communication. So therapeutic communication is the model used by counsellors and you know, 911, operators and hotline. People who answer the phone,

Vonne Solis  8:29  
Wait a sec. What really is therapeutic communication?

Shari Otteman  8:33  
Right? So it's just another, it's another model that says, this conversation isn't just about me learning things from you or you and I taking turns telling stories. It's, I want this conversation to benefit us. And how do I structure our communication in a way that benefits us? So one of the things, like just as a quick tip to anyone who might be listening. The best thing I was ever taught was, when in doubt, reflect. People will tell me things, and I have no idea what to say, when in doubt, reflect. And now, you know, you said this horrible thing happened to me yesterday, and I say, that horrible thing happened to you yesterday. Right? Like you need to vent about that tell me more. And really teaching our clinicians who are more sort of right-brained, how to engage in that and it ends up often creating better health care. Better survey scores. Better, like it's, it's a good skill for them all to have. So that's that piece. 

Then you asked me what was missing? And what really what motivated me to start Aspen Roots Care and Counseling more than anything else, was the number of people I meet, particularly in hospice care for whatever reason, who have experienced adverse experiences in their spiritual home in their religious past. So I wouldn't categorize all of it as abuse, but a lot of it as abuse. And these people when they experienced abuse or adverse experiences in their church homes, nobody was there, to receive them and offer them guidance and counseling, and to help them sort of move on in their spiritual life, right?

And so what almost across the board these people end up doing is for their own safety, leaving their religious communities, and trying to figure things out on their own. Some of them are very successful at that. And some of them are not. And most of them have never received any kind of counselling around this abuse. So we have all these models, for instance, for like domestic abuse recovery, or child abuse, recovery, sexual abuse, recovery, and we don't have a model for spiritual abuse recovery. And we just expect people to figure it out on their own. 

The church is notoriously terrible at even acknowledging that spiritual abuse happens. But then I've searched far and wide for books and podcasts on the subjects that are healthy and therapeutic. They're, they're so few and far between. The general consensus is, yeah, people make mistakes. You still have to go to church. And I just want to scream from the rooftops, that's not healthy, and it's not helping. So as I'm seeing all these people who have been carrying decades of woundedness, and have had no one to talk to about it, and now that they're facing death. All these existential faith crises because they haven't had spiritual health for the last 15, 20 35, 50 years, I just thought, if there was any way to be more present in these communities before these people were in crisis, right? Before it was all of a sudden an urgent question of what happens where it when I die.

Vonne Solis  12:05  
Just to jump in for real quick question. I want to go back to spiritual abuse for a second and really dig down a little bit about what that could, you know, be for someone. So they can really be listening to this and going, huh, that's me. Oooh, I didn't even know I was spiritually abused. What are people most worried about from your experience and the patients you've and clients you've worked with? What are, I'll just say we, really afraid about as, the closer we get to death?

Shari Otteman  12:35  
So just just to clarify what I mean by spiritual abuse.

Vonne Solis  12:39  

Shari Otteman  12:39  
Like abuse wheel that has been published showing all the different types like financial and emotional. All of that. Spiritual is on that wheel as well. So Google that and look at their description. It'll be better than mine. But my own personal experience with both, it can be anything from, you know, a woman telling me that she quit going to church because her Pastor told her, if she really loved her children she would quit her job. Right? And she, that was so abusive to her that she never went back to church. To the woman who had an affair with a priest. And even though it was consensual, that power dynamic, that power differential made it an abusive sexual relationship that changed the way she thought about her faith for the rest of her life. Right? Those are kind of two of the I mean, not extremes, but two different approaches what I would both consider to be spiritual abuse that left people feeling like there was no safe spiritual home for them.

Vonne Solis  13:42  
So it would be anything that a person would feel as betrayal or pain or hurt in any other way that occurred by, or by the church, or obviously someone in the church. And whatever they consider that would be as abuse because church can be a foundation and is a foundation for a lot of us in our childhoods. Let me ask you this as a chaplain and working directly in this area. When people leave the church, and you were saying earlier that, you know, there's been a decline in church attendance, do we feel guilty? Do people or can most people and I'm thinking here about people who have been raised in very, very traditional and staunch like Catholic. It's something very, very, it's so ingrained in the culture. So when they leave their church or any other establishment that is religious for them, would you say a percentage of them, a larger percentage of them or it's just all over the place about those that would feel guilt about that through their adulthood of feeling like they abandoned the church?

Shari Otteman  14:53  
Yeah, well, I mean, the joke among Catholics is that they always feel guilty, right?

Vonne Solis  14:58  
Oh, (laughter).

Shari Otteman  14:58  
So yeah. A majority of my Catholics but it's sort of tongue in cheek, right? Like, 

Vonne Solis  15:04  

Shari Otteman  15:05  
because what people are doing is they're protecting themselves. And how do you really, how do you stay in a place of guilt and regret when you did what you had to do to protect yourself? I think what is the more pervasive, negative fallout is that loss of a spiritual community and spiritual direction.

Vonne Solis  15:24  

Shari Otteman  15:25  
That's what they are experiencing as this deficit in their lives. Some of them go on to try and find it in other places. I have the coolest patient right now who followed a guru for a while in Boulder and then went back to the Catholic church for the music. And then went back to the like, some people really do go on a profound spiritual journey. But the vast majority of people when they are spiritually abused, retreat into a protective mode. Which makes perfect sense. But then they are left sort of, like I said, with that deficit of community and, and guidance.

Vonne Solis  15:59  
You know, you're speaking about something number one, I've never talked, I have never talked about this subject with anyone before. But as you're talking, I'm thinking back. So my early 80s. So I'm, what I'm thinking about here is when we lose that direction. So if something happens in our in our family. So my father, just really as an example, was raised a Mennonite for God's sake. And because he married my mother, who was this in the best in the best way, I'm gonna say crazy, free liberal artist and musician. It was bound to fail. And ultimately, it did fail years later. But you know, my dad, I don't think ever, ever got over the roots of that Mennonite training and discipline. And although he, and his parents, so I have memories of my grandparents, who, you know, they didn't listen to music. They didn't wear makeup. They didn't dance. You know, there was basically just very stoic, you know, I remember sitting in the living room watching this heated lamp turn around. It was a waterfall and you know, I just have these these memories of just oppression. I didn't know it at the time, but looking back, it would have been oppression. 

But anyway, so my dad tries to break the mold. And then the us kids, of course, like what, like he tries to having us in Baptist Church, and then we all leave the Baptist Church. And, but the point I'm making, and I'm not alone in this. I'm pretty sure this happens with you know, lots of people. The point I'm making, you know based on what what you just said, the model falls apart, and we have no direction. So fast forward, here I am in my mid 20s about to become a mom. You know, by the grace of God, I found spirituality through Atlas Shrugged. The book Atlas Shrugged actually. It expanded my brain and from there, you know, just started searching. And at the time, we're talking 1982. 1983. You know, new age was, was the catch word of the day. There were certain thought leaders and industry leaders in a in a more new age, quote, spiritual approach. 

And, obviously, this stuff has been around for generations if you think back to 19th century poets, you know, writers and artists and so on. Always questioning the more. In a lot of spiritual practice, God or Source is at the center of it. You know, some greater Being that does, I don't want to say exercise, but certainly has a power over us. And I mean that in the nicest and gentlest way. And in the spiritual practice I adopted and I did go to Unity Church for a number of years in my 20s. And later on in my 40s for to for a foundation. To show my children a foundation. And again, see? The religious portion. But with Unity, while it relied on a traditional sort of model, if you will, of religion. Bible and stuff like that, it took it a step further. And then we would have expanded consciousness, spiritual thought, spiritual empowerment in that. In other words, we are a part of God. And you do have a choice and you don't have to hand everything over to it's just God's will. It's God's choice. There's a heaven, there's a hell. You you, you have a place of empowerment within that religious model. So the point being is so when we're searching, it's very difficult to know what you're searching for right?

Shari Otteman  19:34  
Sure. Absolutely I think in this day and age, you know, we think about in all the times past where you inherited the religion and the beliefs of your tribe, that's the end, right? Maybe you met some traveller on a foreign road and you learned a little something or you became a disciple to a different rabbi, or to to the Buddha or but pretty much like wherever you were, that's what you believed. And that's no longer true over the last maybe 100 years. And so we we have all these options, right? We can get on Google and we can, oh my gosh, the Baha'i faith is growing like crazy. That's super interesting to me. We have all the faiths of all the history. That's super interesting to me. 

So what I, what I encourage people who are in some sort of spiritual recovery to do in order to not be bombarded by the problem of choice right? To not to be stressed out by that. And ask themselves exactly that question. What is it that I want? What is it that I feel like I'm missing? And I don't think I could over, I don't think I could overestimate how important community is when we're on a spiritual journey. A lot of what we're feeling is spiritual loneliness. So community is the big one, which means geography does still matter, sometimes. And the second one is just a recognition that who I am is okay, right? To me, that's such a huge part of what spirituality is. Not just my lifestyle, or the life circumstances I'm living it. But the person I am. The existence I am. The spirit that I am. That that is okay and valid. That I deserve to take up space. That I am worthy of breathing the oxygen that sustains the planet. That you know that the sun's rays were meant for me as much for the flowers in the field. That's, I think, what if you're, if you can narrow down what you're actually looking for in a spiritual journey to sort of something in that realm, and the community focus, I think you can find what you're looking for through whatever it is that really speaks to you. 

Some people feel the most valid and the most seen when they participate in community building ort of charity work, right? Some people find their faith home in the soup kitchen. Or in the homeless shelter or, or in art, or volunteering at the animal shelter. That's really validating. Some people really find it in sort of new and emerging gurus that are asking the hard questions. Or the Baha'i faith that has this incredible noble goal of improving the world. ike, let's stop acting like that's impossible and do it. So I just think that you have to, you have to tell yourself what you're in it for or it's really easy to get lost.

Vonne Solis  22:34  
Oh, yeah. And while you were talking about all the different ways that we can find our faith. Basically our faith, expanded consciousness, spiritual practice, metaphysics, and all of that. Baha'i, Buddhist. Doesn't matter. As long as, here's where I've, where I've arrived at in my mid 60s. As long as we don't lose ourself in all the giving. Great, go to the soup kitchen. Go to the homeless shelter. Go to the wherever, wherever as long as you can learn to treat yourself with the same compassion and empathy you're giving to those who are serving. And this is what's missing. This is what's missing. I've actually worked, talked with some practitioners on my show, you know, about those who volunteer and volunteer and volunteer and can't say no. Doing a great disservice for themselves because they've lost themselves at the root of it, and are maybe trying to atone for, you know, the, the problems and self-worth.

So at so while you were talking, you know, I was sitting there you sitting here thinking about how many millions of people are struggling. And I'm thinking, I wonder if our fear of condemnation for those that have been really religious or are really religious. Condemnation, at that moment of our last breath. Something to think about, folks, we're not going to maybe talk a lot about that today. But we, because as you were talking about all the worth, and so poetically, and beautifully put it you know. Worth the air we breathe. Worth the sun. Worth the flowers. Worth the birds. Worth all the beauty that we can see in this life. And seeing beauty is up to us, of course, in how we see it. But for those of us that choose and can see beauty, yeah but that it's a part of us too. And the more we sort of inhale that energy, I'm just going to use that word as a visual, the more we do become part of it. And I know you and I are going to be talking a little bit about being part of creator and creation towards the end, but I want people to start thinking about that at this point in our conversation. 

One of the things I want to move into is Shari, that you know, one of your key takeaways I saw. I think it's from your website. You say leaning into that discomfort with your own mortality can lead to an absolutely rich life. And I think that's a beautiful segue into thinking about, well what what I just said, but honouring also the process that we know one day we're going to transcend. We're not going to be here. We're in the physical. We're gonna die folks. Listen, I often think about my death, Shari.

Shari Otteman  25:21  
I bet.

Vonne Solis  25:22  
Yeah. And you know what? I'm sitting here going now, okay, if I said that to some people, they would go, Oh, my God, she's morbid. But no. It's actually kind of interesting. And I don't listen, I don't sit here and ponder, obsess about how I'm going to die. But I actually think a lot. And it influences how I live my life about what I'm going to face when I cross. And I have an added benefit, because I've had my daughter visit me, you know, since she passed 18 years ago. And in the first several years, she visited me regularly, and showed me an awful lot about what it was like in the afterlife. And I am not alone in having a loved one die, and have visits from them, where they show us what you know, quote, I'll call it heaven, After Life. the beyond is like. I have every faith that it is what we want it to be. But at its most, I can't even think of the word I want for it. But at its most original form, pure. That's what my daughter taught me. 

And this white light that people talk about seeing for near death experience. So I had the ability to see that in a past life regression. This was several years before my daughter died, and very rare to feel it. And how do I know it was that same white light? Because it was a white light we don't have on Earth, but it doesn't hurt your eyes. And I really felt like I was at the feet of God. I swear to God, the person was very, very experienced in doing past life regression. And he felt the energy change in the room and everything just changed in the room. And it felt like minutes I was there. But it was probably only seconds. And it was so powerful. I was fully conscious. But I came out of that scene and it never left me. That's how powerful it was. It's never left me. So when my daughter actually died, I actually think that moment prepared me for her death 20 years later.

Shari Otteman  27:31  
I was just thinking. Thank God you had that experience.

Vonne Solis  27:34  
Yeah. Yes. Because it has grounded me and anchored me and especially in the first years of grief wondering where she was. And then, and it was a peacefulness but it's something you can't describe. You have to experience it. And I do believe it's probably very similar, if not the same as what near death experiences, people that go through near death experiences describe as well. You can't really, and in fact, many of them, if you read books on near death, they you'll find a lot of them took years and years to tell anyone about it. Their experience. Because they thought it was just too crazy. And in some of them, it changed their lives so profoundly they didn't really want to be back on Earth even. Back in their bodies. Because that's how beautiful that feeling and experience is. 

So all I'm going to say is, in my experience, I just accepted it as an experience. But fast forward 20 years and when my daughter died, I relied on that for years and years and years to comfort me. And then when she came to me mostly in what people would call a dream astral visit, well, that was how she appeared. And there was no pain and there was no, there was no, it was just love. And it was just absolute absolute love. And it was a world that I was still aware that there was a difference in our vibration and in our worlds, if you will. But it has caused me, influenced me, invited me is probably the right word. It has invited me to ponder passing for years.

What I want to talk about is this discomfort. Leaning into our discomfort to think about our mortality. What do you want to say about that? Now and I've set that up in the context for my experience, but as a Chaplain and the work you do and your own beliefs, what do you think about death and why should we contemplate our mortality?

Shari Otteman  29:31  
Right. Oh, man, thank you for sharing that. 

Vonne Solis  29:35  

Shari Otteman  29:35  
It really was beautiful. And, you know, okay, I'm gonna get back to that later. So it's important to remember that this is very cultural. And that your culture in Canada. My culture in the States are even that's a little different. But the culture that each of us exist in now is not a permanent representation of the human experience, right? It is we got to zoom out and be like, that's what that culture believes in this time and place. So I read this fantastic book, From Here to Eternity Traveling the World to Find the Good Death by Caitlin Doughty. So good. Cannot recommend it highly enough. But she goes into this a lot. She talks about, I can't remember the name, but the Indonesian culture that mummifies their dead. Gets them back out for parades then. Like there are cultures all over the world that think about and plan for not just their passing. Not just their afterlife, but how they will continue to interact with their descendants. Right? 

It is a uniquely Western 2023 experience that when you and I start telling people about how much time we think about our mortality, they ugh. Or, you know, when I say, Oh, I get to do another funeral this Friday, and my friends look at me like I'm insane right? How many funerals does that make Shari that you've done this year? And not enough is always my response because I love that work so much. But that is a uniquely cultural lens. There is nothing in the human experience that says we have to be hardwired biologically, physiologically, emotionally, to resist contemplating our own mortality. So, so shed it right? You don't have to be that way. You can, the Buddha says that the more you think about sort of the impermanence of life, the more rich richly we'll be able to be in the moment. The Judeo Christian scripture says, you know, teach us to number our days, oh Lord, so that we might gain wisdom in our heart. Like, we have all sorts of spiritual leaders saying, pondering your mortality is good for you. And there are cultures all around the world that embrace this. Ours, I think, is the unhealthy one. 

So in the ways that for me, I mean, I can't speak to how other people feel but the ways for me that, you know, being a part of funerals every month

Vonne Solis  32:08  

Shari Otteman  32:09  
that's provided wisdom in my heart is that I have a much better practice of, this is what this is my little mantra, this is my life right now. This one. So I've been in a string of like things breaking in my house, it's really annoying. But my dad comes down and helps me fix night reserve. And we've got parts all over the kitchen. And instead of thinking, I can't wait for this to be over. I can't wait to get back to my regular life. I think right now, this is my life. You know, this moment where my dad and I are handing the screwdriver back and forth. This is my life. How precious is this moment with my father, who I'll only have for who knows how many more years, helping me fix my freezer. This is my life. Or you know, that moment, when you go into wake up, I have teenagers. Go into wake up my kids for school in the morning, and they're sleeping with their soft little mouths still open and their eyelashes down on their face. And they look like tiny children for a second. And I think this is my life. This beautiful, sacred moment. And I can pause instead of in my head being like, Okay, we got to do this and this and get out the door and not be late. Not be late. So that's just one of the ways that I think really being aware of my own mortality of everybody's finite existence on this planet creates a more rich life. A richer experience.

Vonne Solis  33:38  
So I'm going to ask you this Shari. So I love what you say about all of that. Fantastic. And no. And I really mean that. And I respect that. It's very much like living in the moment. Same kind of concept.  Gratitude. Living in the moment. So, so using all those same examples, and then I asked you to contemplate your death. Contemplate the passing and what you'll be leaving behind at any moment. Now, do you do that? Do you do that? And should we be doing that? You know? Because what you just described, nobody wants that to end.

Shari Otteman  34:20  
Amen sister! Right? That is the great tension of this life we've been given. That the more we recognize that it will end someday, the more precious we view our moments. And the more precious we view those moments, the less we want them to end someday. That is the great paradox of the human existence. And look, there's, there's two ways out of it. One way is to say, I don't want to go through that. I don't want that heartbreak. So I'm not going to invest in my life. I'm not going to grow my heart. I'm not going to grow my experience. I'm gonna go day in and day out. Or go to the other side of the I just lost the word

Vonne Solis  35:02  

Shari Otteman  35:03  
there's either like eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die. Like who gives a shit?

Vonne Solis  35:08  

Shari Otteman  35:09  
We're all gonna die anyways. Let's all be out for ourselves, right?

Vonne Solis  35:13  

Shari Otteman  35:14  
You can go to those two extremes and live your life completely devoid of meaning.

Vonne Solis  35:21  
Right. Right.

Shari Otteman  35:23  
One way to avoid attachment to your life. That is one way to avoid attachment.

Vonne Solis  35:28  
Yeah. And I'm sure people do do that. But let's just be really clear. There is a segment of the population that does do that. Right? Avoids attachment.

Shari Otteman  35:36  
I would just argue that at some point, they're going to feel very, very dissatisfied. 

Vonne Solis  35:41  

Shari Otteman  35:41  
I don't think that's a satisfying way to go through this little drop in the bucket. A mist. Whatever you want to call it.

Vonne Solis  35:49  
Right. So I have a question for you. Seeing as you are doing funerals every month and by the way. Okay, I have two questions. And and, and I'm, you know, anyway, but I know you're keeping track of them for me. So first of all, I did want to ask you, so seeing as you are doing funerals every month, so you're around death all the time? 

Shari Otteman  36:15  
Yeah. Well, my hospice patients are dying all the time. Like it's my life right now is just death and dying.

Vonne Solis  36:22  
So you're very comfortable around death. And something you said about the book. I'm going to actually, I want to put a link to it. But what is it? From Here to Eternity?

Shari Otteman  36:33  
The subtitle is Traveling the World to Find the Good Death.

Vonne Solis  36:37  
So my question to you is, seeing as you're around death like all medical professionals, and other people in chaplains, chaplaincy, and so on and so forth. How has that changed your, unless you always had your views around death. Has that changed or expanded your awareness that you yourself could contemplate and embrace your passing, basically peacefully? Could you? Do you think you could?

Shari Otteman  37:10  
I would, I would say personality wise, I've always been a little inclined to be like, you know, c'est la vie. And certainly, before I had children, I wasn't afraid of death or dying at all. Suddenly, we have children and all bets are off right? 

Vonne Solis  37:29  

Shari Otteman  37:29  
... unless my children are involved, right? Like, all of a sudden, all of our firmly held beliefs are super challenged. So I still have, you still have. You say, I'm so comfortable with that. I still have great fear, and great anxiety around my own death right now because my children are 15 and 16.

Vonne Solis  37:32  
But that's fear of death, because you're basically you're basically more afraid to leave them without a mom. 

Shari Otteman  37:48  

Vonne Solis  37:51  
But remove them from the situation, or you're, you know, you've lived a good long life. Let's just call it that. I'm not talking about trauma here and stuff until you lived a good long life. And I do believe, based on my mother and my father's passing in 2010, and 2007, respectively, they both knew they were going. Absolutely and I've seen it in in patients when I was doing that personal support. So I'm just saying, at that moment, when you know, your kids are good. They're grown. They've got families of their own. They're all taken care of. You're 101 and a half. Can you, can you embrace. Can you embrace your passing? I'm talking about it just in very

Shari Otteman  38:41  
I'm going for 88. I feel like in all my work, 88's the right number.

Vonne Solis  38:47  
I'm going for 100 girl, if not 105. So, you know.

Shari Otteman  38:51  
I've got a room picked out at the inpatient hospice with a view of the mountains. I've seen enough of life for the sake of life. Prolonged grief.  I have NO interest in that. And I do on a personal level, I mean, deeply personal level, have deep faith that my spirit is eternal. And then even if I've been with other people who have different faiths from my personal faith

Vonne Solis  39:18  

Shari Otteman  39:18  
I've seen how whatever it is, I would call it the Divine, seems to meet them there and provide peace and relief. You know, you were lucky. I shouldn't say lucky. You have had this exceptional experience.

Vonne Solis  39:36  
I feel lucky Shari that I've had the experiences. Listen, I don't feel lucky that my daughter took her life. But I'm going to be very honest here. It's very different when you lose a child and you can make sense of it. And it's like an accident or an illness or you know something and you go oh, well. But when, and in my spiritual practice and thought, listen, I believe we all choose how we're gonna go and when we're gonna go. I just, that's been a foundation of my thinking for 41 years. So, but when it's a suicide, like that is that is proof that they wanted to go. But I'm only gonna say, so I want to say two things about that. One. I can't deny the fact and I never did deny the fact that my daughter wanted to leave. Was I sad? Absolutely. Did it crush me? Yes, all that stuff. All that stuff. The bereavement and the grief comes more from me trying to figure out how I'm gonna live my life with that loss. 

Shari Otteman  40:38  
It would be.

Vonne Solis  40:38  
Not mad at her that she's gone and all the rest. I know she's great and and wonderful. So do I feel lucky and blessed that I have had this communication open? This this channel of communication open with her? Yes.

Shari Otteman  40:54  
But what I wanted to say about those visitations, 

Vonne Solis  40:57  

Shari Otteman  40:58  
Well, in my experience, those do become really common at the end of life. But I know in your work, you have that how to sort of open yourself up to them. I think that becomes easier for people when they're sort of saying goodbye to the physical world, hich can be a really long process. They become more open. Because it's, it's ridiculously common. Like I never would have believed it until I started doing this work regardless of their beliefs to have visitors from the afterlife  in a peaceful and non-threatening way, show up in their rooms and hang out with them.

Vonne Solis  41:37  

Shari Otteman  41:39  
I don't get to hear the near death stories. So I don't hear the stories of and then they held my hand and we went to the white light. But I hear the phrase all the time of, why is my sister here. Susie, why are you here?

Vonne Solis  41:51  
Oh, I'm so so glad that you're bringing that up. And for folks, there is a there are two wonderful books by Dr. John Lerma. L E R M E R. And he was a palliative is probably still is a palliative care physician in Houston. And he almost risked his career by collecting stories of many of his patients who were more or less within the last couple of weeks of their life. All about Angel visits, visits of Jesus, visits of loved ones. And anyway, he's got two books, and I'll put a link to his site for anybody interested because I found them so comforting. Because when we lose our loved one. So turning to the survivors for a moment, when our person has actually gone, and particularly if it's a death out of the linear model that's expected, we do want to know where they are. And it is very comforting to know that there might be an afterlife. That they might actually still be in existence in some form. 

And so for people that don't believe it, yeah. Listen, for people that don't believe it, I always say when I have to, I'm not trying to convince anybody. You need to experience this and decide for yourself. But I also did some training with a world renowned medium, James Van Praagh for a week and it was all about just doing mediumship. Very different than doing Angel work, which I've also done for many, many years and having my own daughter. It's opening yourself up to be a channel for our loved ones to come through. And in the case of being a medium, you're actually allowing or inviting the energy, if you will, of somebody else's loved one to come in. And I did that for a week. And you know what? I didn't like it. I was so good at it. But I didn't like it and nobody came to me that was nasty or anything like that. But they do still carry when they come through, an energy vibration that isn't quite as high as angels. And you can feel like who they were as people. Everything. You feel everything about who they were and then you describe that to quote the sitter. And they go yep, yep, yep. So there's been a lot of debate over the years, you know, are you just tapping into the memories of the sitter, you know? Are you making this up? Are you this, that and the other. But nevermind, that. That's not what we're talking about. But what I am saying is you can be a non-believer until something happens to make you a believer. And thank you Shari for saying you've seen it over and over and over again, where loved ones from the other side come and visit those that are getting ready to depart.

Shari Otteman  44:58  
And it happens you know when they're towards the end. Visions.. It happens a lot in dreams. One of my favourite things to ask patients is, what have you been dreaming about? And you know, it does worry, to your listeners who probably aren't hospice patients, but who are gonna know hospice patients. It worries friends and families when our loved ones say, you know, things that sound like hallucinations. 

Vonne Solis  45:21  

Shari Otteman  45:22  
What I always say to the friends and families, is it comforting? Is it humourous? Is it or is it scaring them? If it's scaring them, I will come in, and we will do all the work we need to do. And we will pray in whatever way we need to pray to protect them. You know and we'll deal with it. But I think that's, I don't think that's ever happened. I tell them, I will, right? And we'll medicate them. We'll do all the things to make sure they're not scared. But typically, families go you know what? It's not distressing them. And so I tell people, you don't have to believe stories are true for them to be therapeutic. So you don't even have to believe that, that that story is the actual reality to find it extremely comforting to everyone involved, right?

Vonne Solis  46:13  

Shari Otteman  46:14  
You don't have to buy into the fact that that's not a hallucination. That's a real angel visit. It doesn't matter if you believe it or not. It is comforting her, and we're going to let her be comforted with those who are going to be present in those rooms. Because I think it can be distressing for people who aren't experiencing it. We just, we worry.

Vonne Solis  46:33  
Yeah. Oh, for sure. And so I'm gonna I'm gonna, you know, tip my hat and respect to people who are worried and are going to call it hallucinations and the medicine and this and that, that's fine. But ultimately, let's think about this for a moment audience. Everybody's death is their own.

Shari Otteman  46:51  

Vonne Solis  46:52  
And, and we cannot presume to know what they have experienced. And I say this, because losing my daughter. Then losing my dad and losing my mom. And then there's been my daughter's best friend died, you know, from a different circumstance, a health issue. Very, very, you know, distressing. But I worried that my daughter, and I'm not alone in this. I worried that she suffered.

Shari Otteman  47:23  

Vonne Solis  47:24  
You know and that and that she was alone. And, you know, and lots of people, Shari. Lots of people and listen, I have read, a lot of people die alone. They wait to see all their loved ones and then they choose to pass alone. Unless you have a loved one that never leaves the room. Right?

Shari Otteman  47:45  
Well some definitely prefer it. Yeah, you'll have a loved one that's been there around the clock, and they go to the bathroom and that's when they're taken because some people really prefer to do it privately. 

Vonne Solis  47:58  
Yeah. So audience that happens. So it's a very personal experience to die. To transition. And we really can't project our own fears and what we think it's going to be like on that individual who's ready to go because our passing is going to be our passing. And, you know, listen, I wasn't able to go in and look at my daughter, you know, at the actual scene, obviously. I couldn't do that. So a police officer came to me a few hours later and said, you know, she had worked with an awful lot of of death and suicides. And she, you know, said to me, your daughter looked, so, she looks so beautiful. Because, and I've said this once or twice before on the podcast, that funeral home like, workers. I don't know what their official wouldn't be the director. But you know, people that do embalming and things like that, told me that you can't change the expression of a deceased person. And both my mom and my daughter, my daughter especially actually looked like an angel. A sleeping angel because we did you know, when we did see her.

And now I'm not again, for those that are going oh my god, she's so morbid. No. I have a podcast called Grief Talk. And Shari and I are talking about death and grief as I talk with other guests about it. It's not fun to think about but it comforted me. That's what I want to say. So if you're fortunate enough, and mom just looked like she was sleeping. And so if you're fortunate enough to have a loved one pass in peace, and not agony, and I was fortunate enough to be with my husband's brother who passed four years ago, I think it was. Four years ago. And even though at the point of his passing. And it wasn't I don't think painful for him. But it was unexpected from a sepsis situation and shouldn't have occurred but did occur. And we were able to say goodbye to him a couple days before he actually transitioned. And he wasn't speaking at that point. But it was, it was almost an honour for me to just be able to stroke his forehead a little bit. Give him a kiss on the forehead. And he knew we were there. 100% he knew when we were there. And after he passed, a few days later, all the electronics in my car, we came down to the car and everything, the horn was going. The lights were flashing. Called the service, the BCAA. And they go, I have no idea what's wrong with your car, right? Tow it to the thing and the guys like the mechanics. It stopped and there's, I don't know what's wrong with your car. So we're like, thank you. You know, just a little sign. But that's, that's a little aside.

Shari Otteman  51:03  

Vonne Solis  51:03  
When someone passes, I say, don't touch my car. Leave the car alone. Thank you.

Shari Otteman  51:11  
It is absolutely an honour to be present when somebody passes. We have like a Japanese proverb hanging in our inpatient hospice facility that says, sunsets are no less beautiful than sunrises. And I think of that every time. It's not, it's not true that every death is easy. Like, I'm not gonna lie to people, and say that, but the best thing you can do when planning for or hoping for a peaceful death for yourself and for your loved one, is to talk about it and stop pretending it's never going to happen. The more we talk about it, the more open we are about it. The less we say to our friends who are hospice workers, like ugh. Like the more willing you are to engage, the better off your entire family system will be. And I get on my soapbox about this, because I've seen it go in such different directions. The family that has talked about it. The family that knows what Grandma believes and knows what Grandma wants, versus the family that never thought this would gonna happen even though Grandma had stage four lung cancer. And the way families can just fracture, when everyone is scrambling to try and figure out what's the best thing for Grandma's final days and after, versus the family that can hold each other, and love each other and give Grandma the death that she wanted.

Vonne Solis  52:39  
Yeah, yeah.

Shari Otteman  52:41  
I can't stress it enough. Go online, fill out the five wishes. Do all of the weird little quizzes. Do a living will. Do a medical power of attorney. Do everything you can think of to do. Then put it in a binder and forget about it. But do it. Because it will have such a profound impact that may last for generations. And yes, you can have a super peaceful death with hospice, or you can die in agony, because you waited too long to seek treatment.

Vonne Solis  53:10  
Yeah, that and and, and also, and by the, by the way, when there is a sudden death, let's just give nod to that for a little bit. And I know that's not your work. But for those that do and there's a lot of us that do lose someone suddenly. Can be a parent, heart attack, you know, aneurysm, anything. Boom! There one minute. They're dead the next. Happened with my mom. So, you know, it's so important what you just said about talking. I did have to ask you what is online Five Wishes? Is there a link to something that someone, like they can go somewhere? I've never heard of that. What is it?

Shari Otteman  53:48  
It's great. So there are a number of these but Five Wishes is the one that's free. There's a link to it on my website. You can throw one up on yours and it's about starting the conversation with your loved ones. So people get real, as they should, overwhelmed and flustered when they're given a you know, DNR form or a 

Vonne Solis  54:07  

Shari Otteman  54:08  
And they don't know well, do I want to be intubated but not or do I want to feedings but I don't want or something, and like, you know what I mean? Like, it's like.

Vonne Solis  54:19  
Here's a question for you. DNR, do not resuscitate for those that don't know that. When should we be thinking about that? And do they only ask you in the states to fill it out if you're in a medical emergency, or do you prepare one in advance?

Shari Otteman  54:34  
You should all be thinking about it now. Do it now. You can always update your wishes. So like I'm 41 and I have teenagers at home. I don't want to be DNR. I want everything right? Shock me as many times as it takes. Intubate the heck out of me. I want all of it. 

Vonne Solis  54:51  

Shari Otteman  54:52  
If I ever am in a situation where I've just had my fourth round of chemo and I'm done then I can redo it. Um, and I could redo those documents. But do it now, because right now, they need to know who my and I don't know, this is just the States but right now in the States, they need to know who my medical power of attorney is. 

Vonne Solis  55:12  

Shari Otteman  55:13  
Even if I'm just unconscious for a few days, they need to know. They need to know, do I want to be kept on life support for three days? Seven days or indefinitely if I'm .... 

Vonne Solis  55:21  

Shari Otteman  55:22  
So yeah, it's never too soon. Never too soon.

Vonne Solis  55:25  
Yeah, and and thank you for that. Um, we're not going to discuss this anymore. But audience, I just want you to think about D N R. Right now, today, if anything happened to you where a DNR, meaning there is, is there is a chance that paramedics and physicians and so on. Nurses can work on you to try do everything they can with the tools that they have, the equipment that they have to save your life, do you want it? There's something thought provoking for you for the day.

We're getting to the top of the hour here, Shari, and I wanted to move quickly into and I'm going to bring these two together. So we talked, I want to talk a little bit to you about disenfranchised grief. Because you and I spoke about that a little bit when we were chatting on an earlier occasion. And I want to lead that into spiritual wholeness. The two kind of work together. But I want and then we're going to end with your resources. But I want to just to ask you, if you could explain for others, what disenfranchised grief means to you, and in your experience and your professional capacity? And and, you know, how one could sort of can, you know, think about whether this has impacted them in their life? And then let's move into spiritual wholeness, because that would be part of the healing journey that you offer.

Shari Otteman  56:48  
Yes, of course. Thanks, Vonne. So, disenfranchised grief is any sort of grieving experience where in addition to suffering a loss, you are suffering a type of estrangement from your community. So typically, that comes in the form of shame and discomfort. So for you, Vonne, losing a 20 year old, to suicide, that's the kind of story that makes the people around you, even those who love you, deeply uncomfortable. Where you might find the need to verbally process it, you will struggle to find people who are willing to spend that time with you and sit down. 

Vonne Solis  57:26  
Yeah, yeah, for sure. 

Shari Otteman  57:27  
And again, that's cultural. We've for years, people, women who have lost babies to miscarriages or to abortions have experienced disenfranchised grief because people were too uncomfortable to sit with them and let them process that. Stillborns. Infant deaths. SIDS. Oh my gosh, disenfranchised grief and the discomfort from that comes from, it's just too horrific to spend my time thinking about it right? It provokes, it triggers too much anxiety.

Vonne Solis  57:56  

Shari Otteman  57:57  
So what we what I see the most of in the healthcare world, of course, are people who died to addictions. That's the disenfranchised grief that I deal with the most. And the reason there's no safe place for those people to grieve is because again, their community gets uncomfortable and goes well, that's the choices they made. And when we say things like that, well, that's the choices they made, it helps us not feel. It helps us not have to feel and not have to lean into discomfort and be sad with people. 

The first funeral I ever did, I was a newbie Chaplain resident at a hospital and a family that was losing a 40 some year old to lifelong alcoholism and liver failure asked me to do the funeral. It was my first experience in really disenfranchised grief and grieving. And the sweet family had such complex emotions, right? Such complex emotions. Three boys, the youngest was 17. The oldest was 22. I mean, baby, babies trying to navigate this while also being deeply ashamed while also not knowing what to do. And it was just the loveliest for me experience because like I said it was my first funeral. They were anticipating a very small turnout because of this disenfranchised loss. We just did it at the little chapel in the funeral home, and Vonne, they packed the room. The community that came out came for this family. We had to open up standing room only. We had to open up the next room. I mean, it was just the loveliest form of a community recognizing which is so important that disenfranchised grief is real. Recognizing that those people need you more than anyone else and saying no, we don't care that it's uncomfortable. We're gonna show up. So that's, that's my biggest spiel on disenfranchised grief is when you catch yourself pulling back from something as a community. As a church. As an individual saying, oh that is too traumatic. That's exactly when you need to lean in.

Vonne Solis  1:00:06  
Yes, because it's horrible being on the receiving, it's horrible being on the receiving end of that. And again, we're not talking about that today. But that is, that is actually the reason that I went into the work I do. And I wrote my first book over five years, starting in 2006. And I documented what I was going through as I was going through it. So it was a very candid look at what my grief experience was. And, and then, because it's my because it's my journey, and I was able to then in the second part of that book, put in a spiritual, metaphysical healing, self-help healing practice that basically saved my life, but was channelled to me largely by the angels and again, my daughter. So I wasn't sitting there going hmm. Now, how did I heal myself? And I'm not healed. But how did I begin my healing? Yes, I made an a conscious choice to want to heal from this. But I'm being careful about that word, because I have met people in the bereaved community who don't like the word. And I, and I respect that. But for me, just bear with me. That was my choice. Right, right from the beginning. No, I can't stay suffering. So 18 years later, I'm still on the journey. And I have embraced it. 

And my my biggest question for me, and you know, audience, I love to share this with you is that, am I ever going to fully heal? Which is, you know, did I set the bar too high? And, you know, and since 2018, 2019, I published my third book in 2021, which also, that one was cathartic. The first one was not cathartic. My third one was cathartic. The middle one is just a self-help book for people. But I gave myself the grace and permission to let it be okay, if I didn't reach the bar, or if I have to lower the bar. And that has freed me to go vocal and not go out into the world, thinking that you have to be this whole person. Perfect person without any problems, to mentor or guide or counsel or help someone else through their journey. That is the most least authentic way to try and get into the work of helping others in my view. 

But on that note, let's turn to spiritual wholeness before we close this out, Shari and, and talk about what spiritual wholeness means to you in the work you do. And you and I really connected on on this idea that, you know, we're part of creation. We're part of our Creator, you know, and why you believe that? And you know, how people can think of that for themselves?

Shari Otteman  1:03:10  
Yes, yes. So piggybacking on what you were saying about becoming fully healed, I love the image of being the walking wounded, or the wounded healer that Henri Nouwen wrote about. Nouwen wrote about. Because I think that is, that's the pinnacle. When we are wounded healers, that's as healed as we're gonna get on this earth. And it's a beautiful place to be right? I think all the time, like, sometimes I wish I had more power. I wish I could heal people physically. I wish I could fix their broken hearts. I wish I could walk in and wave my magic wand. And yet, I know that if I was that perfect, and that powerful, I would be a horrible human being.

Vonne Solis  1:03:53  
Either that or God right?

Shari Otteman  1:03:58  
Yeah! So I think the pinnacle is the wounded healer. I think that's the best we can all strive for. So I do think you have to find within you, whatever it is that gives you that sense of joy and awe. And you have to learn to speak to yourself and about yourself, the way you speak to and you speak about that thing. So I do a lot of talks for moms, for Mother's groups. And one of the things that is so simple and so profound is, you know, when you're talking to yourself, would you talk to your little girl like that? You know? Say, when you're saying, for me, Well, it was a toxic marriage, but he never actually hit me. Maybe I'm overreacting. Would I talk to my daughter like that? Hell no. Hell no. I would say this is what you deserve. And this is the life you're going to go after because you are beautiful and smart and strong and you deserve all this right? 

So for moms, I think it's really powerful to find that you know, the precious baby in your arms to the little girl who fell down and scraped her knee. Like you don't say to that little girl, what a clumsy little piece of crap you are. You say, Oh, I'm so sorry. Oh, I bet that hurts. Let's work on whatever we need to work on together. So finding the ability to say, whatever is sacred in this world to me, I need to recognize that I'm that sacred to something. So in my faith, I'm that sacred to my Creator. In your world for you, you might be that sacred to your mother. You might be that sacred to the earth. Or to the dog that relies on you more. You know, one of my favourite cartoons is the woman looking in the mirror? Like, aghh, what is wrong with me? And the dog looking at her with a little thought bubble that's like, she's so pretty. There is some force around you, that delights in you. And when you recognize that you are capable of delighting in something else, you have to learn how to transition that into also realizing you are an object of delight. That I think it's the journey to spiritual wholeness. And yeah, it's all there. And yeah, like, I feel like even if you don't have faith in it, I have faith in it to anyone who might be listening. I have faith that you are an object of delight to the divine within you and outside of you to the sunshine on your back. You are delightful.

Vonne Solis  1:06:36  
I love that. Find yourself people. That's what's coming to me as a message. Find yourself. Your true self. 

Shari, this has been inspiring, thought provoking, informative. You know, educational, and I can't thank you enough for being candid. You speak so eloquently, articulately. I appreciate that. And for you coming on my show, because you are a rare gem and a wealth of wisdom. And people will benefit from our talk that we've had today. Our discussion and your messages. I know you have a website.

Shari Otteman  1:07:17

Vonne Solis  1:07:20  
And your socials. I see that you have provided Facebook links for me so that I can put both your website and your Facebook link in the description. Are you on any other socials? Or that's where you're mostly hanging out these days?

Shari Otteman  1:07:35  
Not right now. But my phone number is on those two, that's a business line. You can call or text at any time. Both the Facebook page and the webpage have a little contact emailme form so we chat, email. It is my sincere wish that everyone would find a little bit of encouragement from my work. So never, never hesitate to reach out to me.

Vonne Solis  1:07:55  
Oh, that's fantastic. And do you work with the, like anybody can call you? Like do you work over zoom in that as well as it's not geographic specific than to your area?

Shari Otteman  1:08:05  
I mean the funerals I work typically are geographically centered, but everything else Zoom, phone. Whatever we need to do, we'll figure it out.

Vonne Solis  1:08:13  
Yeah, I'm thinking of the spiritual counselling here and you know, whatever else you can counsel people on. So do reach out if you feel drawn to work with Shari, or inquire about something because I'm sure you have a wealth of resources as well, that you can impart on your site. And I've already learned about a couple of books that you mentioned here as well. So I'll put links to that as well. 

So thank you again, Shari for coming on the show. It's been just great. Did I miss anything? Is there any last parting words that you want to say? We covered an awful lot. So

Shari Otteman  1:08:51  
Yeah, it's been an honour and a pleasure Vonne. Thanks so much. I really appreciate the work you do and inviting me to have this conversation with you. It's precious.

Vonne Solis  1:08:59  
Thank you. Thank you so much.

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