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Echoes of an eclipse

Rediscovering mom after my dad's passing

On August 1, 2022, my father suffered a brain stroke and fell into a coma for 23 days, marking the beginning of a profound period of transition for my mother and me. He had a magical passing on February 22, 2024—magical because, despite his illness, we made a short film in which he starred called “El milagro de la 10”, premiered just four days before he passed away. Inspired by a resolve to "live well to die well," and encouraged by my friend Felipe Giraldo, I decided to attend Modern Elder Academmy's workshop on life transitions with my mother, led by Jeff Hamaoui and Carl Honoré.

Mom, dad, and I at the premiere of "Milagro de la 10" in Pasto, Colombia

Nestled in the mystical Baja desert, the workshop setting mirrored the introspective journey we were about to undertake. It combined the wisdom of seasoned facilitators with the stunning beauty of the surroundings and the depth of the content presented.

Our group, named Eclipse Latino,” focused on the power of active listening—transforming my goal into becoming an expert listener. We explored the significance of the questions we ask ourselves, shifting from asking "How are you?" to:

"What questions have you been asking yourself this week?" 

This change not only altered how we interacted with others but also deepened our internal dialogues.

Eclipse Latino was the name of our cohort
  • Growth Mindset: Inspired by Carol Dweck’s theories, we confronted our fears and imagined creative paths forward.
  • Appreciative inquiry: This approach helped soften the impact of my father’s death, providing us tools to discuss and process our grief gently.
  • Self-perception: We shifted from seeing ourselves as impostors within our own lives to explorers, charting new territories of personal growth.

Juanita, a fellow participant, encapsulated our experience by saying:

"We’re a process, in process, processing," 

emphasizing that life transitions are a step-by-step journey.

The workshop was not just a platform for learning but also for profound connection with ourselves and our classmates. Witnessing an eclipse with my mother, I pledged to share more of nature's wonders with her. The workshop’s reflective practices led to major realizations about our family dynamics and my professional life. I created a poem during this time, distilling my new understandings into verse (see pic bellow).

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Some of the practical strategies we adopted include:

  • Active Listening: Engaging more deeply with what people are actually saying, rather than preparing our next response.
  • Questioning Deeply: Using questions to explore and understand deeper truths about ourselves and others.
  • Embracing Change: Viewing life transitions as opportunities for growth and deepened relationships.

As I navigate this post-sabbatical and post-loss phase, my heart is filled with love, ideas, and curiosity. I am deeply grateful for the shared journey at the MEA and for the tools it provided us to navigate our new realities. The facilitators—Jeff, Carl, and Valentin—were not just teachers but compassionate guides who enriched our experience immeasurably.

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If you're in your forties, haven't recently shared a meaningful journey with your parents, or are navigating significant family transitions, a workshop like this could be very transformative. It offers a profound way to deepen understanding and connections. I encourage anyone to explore these themes—whether through a workshop, dialogue, or personal reflection.

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 Your journey could inspire and support others, just as sharing mine has enriched my understanding of myself and my loved ones.

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Gracias Jeff, Carl, Valentin, Felipe, my Eclipse latino family, and the entire MEA crew!