Wednesday, 26 January 2011


I am privileged to have been asked to write the closing words - the blogituary - for Nige's sacred journey into the heart of life and death. I have not said all that there is to say, but I have said what I felt needed saying, and that is enough.

On January 24th 2011, Nige Atkinson completed his 104 day long Experiment in Conscious Dying. Before you read on, worry not - he has not died! (I cannot tell you how relieved I was to wake up next to him on day 105 and see his beautiful self breathing! What a remarkable work of art the lungs are to house life so delicately, yet so essentially.)

"Each breath the first, the last."
Stephen Levine

It has been an incredible honour to walk alongside Nige, to witness him on this journey, and to find myself having a parallel, personal experience with death over the last few months. I am sure there are a number of readers of this blog who feel the same. As death touches all those who love a person, so too does consciously dying, it would appear.

Nige's decision to take the 104 day long journey towards a conscious death - a journey that his dad took in 2009 when he found out about 'that cancer' - set his feet firmly on a path that brought just about the sum total of the human experience to him in a short time span.

In examining death, and in fearlessly facing the prospect of his own expiration, he encountered experience after experience, emotion after emotion, forgiveness after forgiveness, eventually arriving at the Still Point, able to let go, able to say goodbye, ready to greet death and the forgetfulness that a new beginning brings.

"Opening up to the pain of death is one of the most mysterious blessings of life."
Marianne Williamson

One of the sentences I often heard him speak was, "If I only had 74 / 13/ 5 (and so on) days to live, how differently would I live my life today?"

Towards the end of the experiment, this was a question that he fired in my direction more than once! How, he challenged, would I live my life knowing that he was going to die in just a few fleeting days. What a question!, my ego ranted.

Unbeknownst to me, the possibility of Nige dying in a rapidly decreasing number of days had become genuinely frighteningand I wrestled with a strange mix of thoughts and emotions swirling and whirling and whooshing around inside me, all boiling down to a single thought: "Please don't leave me!"

My own greatest fear, met through his experiment. What a blessing.

What a question, then, for all of us. What a question! This is perhaps one of the greatest learnings that I witnessed emerge in Nige from this experiment: if we each lived our lives conscious of death's inevitable arrival, conscious of its complete lack of predictability, conscious of our eventual departure from this heavy body, how differently would we choose to live? 

How differently would we choose to think?
Fear or love - which do you choose?

How differently would we love?
Fear or love - which do you choose?

How much more willing would we be to leave no stone unturned so that when Death greeted us, we could say: 

"Yes. Today is a good day to die, for all things in my life are present."
Fear or love - which do you choose?

Without reservation, I can say that Nige gave himself fully to this experiment, and to answering these questions. I know that you know that - you were there. You read the blog posts. You saw the images. You said your final words to him, just as I did. You mirrored the respectful sacredness with which he entered into this experience.

In doing so, you have been an essential part of a seminal journey of healing. On behalf of Nige, and on behalf of Jim - ever present and greatly missed - I want to express heartfelt gratitude to life, for flowing through us; to death, for always being a hair's breadth away; and to the Great Giver of life, to Spirit, which flows through all things and bestows miracles upon all of us.

"Everything that comes from love is a miracle."
A Course in Miracles

May our eyes see the miracles that we are, and may we live each day ready to greet death, consciously aware of the magnificent lessons that it would have us learn while we live, so that we may remember that in truth:

"Only the Love is real in any situation."
A Course in Miracles


  1. Oh man, Elloa, this is so deeply touching--on so many levels. If you two beauties were in front of me now, I'd bow to you both. And give you great big warm hugs.

    I am forever grateful that you have come into my life. I am certainly changed for the better.

    I choose LOVE.

    Thank you for always pointing me back. I treasure you both.

  2. Thank you for the beautiful gifts you give me every single day of this wonderful life xxx

  3. My mom and I were joking about whether it was time to roll away the stone yet, and how we could do that:) What a beautiful way to speak to all of this, through Elloa.

    This is so beautiful, and this entire experience has been such a rich part of my life these past months. I can't tell how grateful I am to have You both in my life, your bravery, uniqueness, and tireless pursuit for turning it all to love.

    Thank you, again, for cultivating this sacred space.

  4. Oh, and that is the sweetest little boy I've ever seen!

  5. Yes, it is a powerful journey to be certain, and is one worth bringing to the forefront of our awareness rather than burying it somewhere in our substrata. Thank you Elloa for this beautiful summation, and thank you Nige for welcoming me along the journey. It's been very touching.

    I was so touched by my own experience through this practice (and actually, I've done this exercise a number of times over the years in different ways) that I'm offering a 13-month group to anyone who is interested in being held and guided through their own journey with death. This group is to bring us to a place of collaboration with the inevitable death so that we may live our lives and take our breaths more fully while here... If interested, info is on my website: