Go Toward What Hurts

Frank Ostaseski shares experiences from his decades working with dying people and those who are dealing with the death of loved ones.

Illustrations by Tatsuro Kiuchi

Editor’s note: In the following piece, adapted from Frank Ostaseski’s book The Five Invitations: Discovering What Death Can Teach Us About Living Fully, he shares some of his experiences from the decades he has been working with dying people and those who are dealing with the death of loved ones. On a regular basis, Frank has gone courageously to places of deep pain and suffering few of us ever have to go to. As you are about to read this account, it might help you to know that it is deeply affecting, and yet also uplifting, to hear firsthand about people going through the hardest experiences of their lives.

Most of the people I have worked with over the past 30 years were ordinary people who were coming face-to-face with what they imagined was impossible or unbearable, walking toward their own deaths or caring for someone they loved who was now dying. Yet most found within themselves and the experience of dying the resources, insight, strength, courage, and compassion to meet the impossible in extraordinary ways.

No two people or stories were exactly alike. Som