The original version of this marble statue of a dying Galatian Celtic warrior is one of the most famous sculptures to survive from ancient times. It is unusually expressive of the pain but also the nobility and power of life in the face of death.
This is how we imagine he wants it to end, on his shield, his weapons at hand, still holding himself up despite the blood pouring out of a visible stomach wound. That’s why the statue was a mandatory stop on the Grand Tour for people like Byron, who described the Dying Gaul:
He leans upon his hand — his manly brow
Consents to death, but conquers agony,
Do it like this. The Dying Gaul is training, preparation for our own death, a model. Probably not a very useful one, but you take what you can get.
When it comes to preparation for end of life, or acceptance of mortality, or however you want to say it — there isn’t much training to get outside of joining a religion. Secular authorities like Doctors are trained only to combat death, rarely to accept or prepare for it. Psychologists and counselors receive almost no therapeutic training in death as it relates to individuals or to family systems.
I started making up a training for myself in 2007 after I helped my Mom die. I’ve been working on it ever since, informed by life experiences like cancer, chemo, years of hospice volunteer caregiving for Kaiser and Zen Hospice Project, and frequent workshops with health care professionals and students.
I also have a Black Belt in Teaching and Learning. I like it doing it face-to-face irl, online, or in virtual worlds. I think webinars are a sweet spot, overcoming the barriers of being together while remaining easy and accessible to many, but of course not all, people.
Webinars are the learning environment of our time and the risks and fears of death are always the central feature of any pandemic.
An Instructional Design for Dying brings psychological and practical preparation for end of life to your laptop or phone as an eight-part webinar series I am offering with Renegade University.
September 22 — November 10th
8:30 PM East/5:30 PM Pacific
Sessions will run 2 - 2.5 hours.
Attendees can choose to share their name, video or audio, during the live sessions or watch anonymously.
This is just the beginning. Virtual environments provide simulation and deep immersion opportunities that are not possible in any other medium, including so-called real life.
We are leading death events in VR now and have been throughout the pandemic. The best teaching and learning platform is all platforms combined without restriction. That is how we will be engaging with death together as we renew our relationship with nature and each other.
Learn more about An Instructional Design for Dying with Renegade University here