In this personal and unconventional talk, Mathews challenges people to break free from the limitations and language of a “grieving process” and change the way we think about and respond to the death of those we love.
After the love of her life died, Mount Shasta resident Jennifer Mathews wondered why she wasn’t devastated. How could she still be happy?
Years ago, Mathews had been known as “one of the laughing girls” in Mount Shasta. Her life-partner Kate Asch was the other. Both were Certified Laughter Yoga Teachers and offered free weekly classes at the Wellness Center. And then in 2011, life presented an unexpected twist. Kate was diagnosed with advanced cancer at age 41. She died 12 weeks later.
To Mathews’ surprise, grief wasn’t her primary experience after Kate died. Instead, she felt a consistent love and connection most of the time. She questioned herself for years, and then she began questioning the cultural expectation of grief itself.
In 2019, Mathews had the honor of speaking about these experiences on the TEDx Ashland stage. Her TEDx Talk, “Death is Inevitable – Grief is Not,” was released earlier this month by TED on YouTube. She boldly asks viewers, “What if grief is not the only authentic way to respond to the death of a loved one? What if some people, like me, respond differently?”
In this personal and unconventional talk, Mathews challenges people to break free from the limitations and language of a “grieving process” and change the way we think about and respond to the death of those we love. She combines life stories and tools with references to recent studies on grief, opening up new possibilities for emotional wellbeing when navigating death.
She is clear in her intentions: “My hope is not to discourage cultural permission to grieve. My hope is to encourage a cultural shift to expand our permission to respond to death however we’re inclined.”
On Sunday, Nov. 10 from 1 to 4 p.m., Mathews is offering an in-depth experiential workshop based on TEDx, called “Reimagining Grief: How to Respond to Death Differently.” It will be held at the Wellness Center at 633 Lassen Lane, Mount Shasta. The venue is wheelchair accessible.
The suggested donation is $25, more if you can, less if you can’t. Register online at mtshastareimagine2019.eventbrite.com.
Mathews has lived in Mount Shasta since 2006 and is a founding member of the Living/Dying Alliance of Southern Oregon. She organizes and facilitates conversations on death and dying for the Ashland Death Cafe and the award-winning film “Death Makes Life Possible.” Jen has led discussions with over 1,000 people across the U.S., as well as in the UK and Ireland. For more info, go to JenniferMathews.com