The passing of my dear colleague, Dr. Voss, like any death, provides us with a moment to reflect on our lives and our purpose for being here in our temporary bodies.
We must all face the ending of our physical body at some point, and as far as we know, we are the only mammal who realizes mortality. Ignorance is bliss for animals and our precious pets, whose brains are not large enough to figure it out or worry about it. The human experience would be so unfair if we had to live with this doom and gloom realization and we had no way to transcend it. Luckily for us, we do. We have a prefrontal cortex, fully 1/6th of our brain, that confers the experience of mindfulness, an awareness of the present moment.
The bottom line is that the purpose of our prefrontal cortex is to care for one another, and Dr. Ching Voss was the embodiment of such kindness. I never encountered a single interaction with her that involved anything other than caring for me personally or caring for her patients.
Bereavement and Loss- Mindfulness and Healing
This week’s Mindfulness and Healing Group will focus on bereavement and loss. In this physical world at least, all relationships end – I die, you die, I go away, you go away – no exceptions. Despite this, we often carry an irrational expectation that relationships will not end, that they go on interminably. Perhaps they do on some heavenly plane. However, this delusion on everlasting continuity in this physical world may account for why we take relationships for granted, and why we get bored with them. In fact, relationships are precious precisely because they will not last forever, so what we have right now, this very moment, could be experienced as exciting and new, if approached in this spiritual way. The “newness” is often not apparent because we are not applying our prefrontal faculties, which does not come naturally for most of us (including me), and needs to be practiced regularly and learned.
Relationships are Sacred
Suffering bereavement and loss is caused by the “cognitive dissonance” of two irreconcilable thoughts; Thought #1 - this relationship should go on forever and… Thought #2 – This relationship did not go on forever because you/I died or you/I went away. In other words, the brain runs a circular, ridiculous process..it should be forever, but its temporary; It should be forever, but its temporary; It should be forever, but its temporary; It should be forever, but its temporary; It should be forever, but… yada yada in perseverative, obsessive thinking. That conflict between two mutually exclusive thoughts drives a sympathetic, fight/flight, autonomic stress response that is the cause of bereavement symptoms. There are only two solutions, to this or any problem in life. Either we maintain the status quo, the relationship, or we “let go” of the delusion that the relationship should never end. We have an apparatus that can penetrate this mental-illness-causing thinking, which can drive some people into suicide, and recognize how the irrational belief in the perpetuity of relationships is the problem, and not the fact that the relationship has ended. An unwillingness to accept this basic truth is not only the cause of bereavement suffering, but its also the cause of an inability to experience the sacredness of relationships we still have.
Maslow called this self-actualization, which means according to some interpretations that the “actual” purpose of existing as a human being is to love and care for one another. That should be the definition of “wokeness,” not some hateful propaganda. Our brains are hard-wired to awaken and experience this. In my recent book, along with many of Maslow’s devotees, we suggest that self-actualization evolves into transcendence, where a human being can activate the hardwiring of their brain to such a degree that we transcend that other 5/6ths of our animal brain which is constantly preoccupied with the biological imperative of all life, survival.
Remembering the Kindness of Dr. Voss
Dr. Voss seemed to be mostly interested in the caring for others, so when it came her time to pass, she had certainly earned an uneventful transition. I had heard about her hospitalization, and during a meditation one night, I suddenly felt an urge to pray for her transition, so I did. I rarely pray (perhaps that’s my problem!), but I found out the next morning that the time I was “called” to pray for her was exactly when she was passing on.
I am grateful to have known Dr. Voss, who appeared to me to be the embodiment of such compassion and self-actualization. She was brave to have risked an expression of her caring for others in a profession that does not take kindly to such self-actualization. My own fortitude to persevere is bolstered through her exemplary kindness and I can cherish those brief moments we had together.
Mindfulness and Healing Group every Sunday evening at 7 pm.
Everyone is invited.
To join, simply call 712-770-4340 and when prompted, enter the code
Charles Gant MD, PhD, is a physician, author and teacher and has practiced Integrative and Functional Medicine for over three decades. He specializes in getting to the root cause of health issues to support healing at the molecular level. Areas of interest include ADHD, chronic diseases, metabolic, hormonal and immune disorders, infectious disease (Lyme and co-infections), genetic testing and more. He is an expert in interpretation of functional medicine testing to diagnose precisely what is deficient in each patient, and then replenish those missing, essential items.