Dying is tough. Losing a loved one is tough. But La Jolla resident Lannette Cornell Bloom’s book, “Memories in Dragonflies: Simple lessons for mindful dying,” aims to look at the “magical side” and “sacred joy” of death.
Inspired by the passing of her mother, Bloom said she wrote the 112-page tome as a way to heal and encourage others to rethink the death process and the “beautiful moments” that can occur.
“Death is not fun nor something we’re told we want to face. People get caught up in the sadness and not wanting to go through it, like we don’t have a choice,” she said in an interview with the Light. “Of course, we don’t have a choice when it comes to death, but we have a choice in how we look at it. I want to help people look at death in a different way, and understand that they can make the best of it.”
A nurse by trade with experience delivering babies, Bloom is familiar with seeing lives begin and end. Aware that her time with her mother was coming to a close as her mother battled pulmonary fibrosis, she looked at each day more carefully. “Knowing I only had so much time with such a beautiful person, I wanted to keep her life as normal as possible and help her live each day as best she could. For me, it was the quality, not quantity, of her days. I learned you can have beautiful days, just in different ways.”
As Bloom she writes in her book: “The journey I took with her as she crossed the bridge taught me the absolute beauty of slowing down to the pace of a dying soul. Colors became more vivid. Listening became a way of being.”
Taking note of these new ways of looking at life, Bloom began to jot down memories and reflections of care-taking in a spiral notebook she purchased from Warwick’s. “I didn’t see the hard times, I only remembered the beautiful moments,” she said. “I ended up with a year of memories. I couldn’t believe how detailed the memories were.”
But she couldn’t stop there. “For years after my mom died, I had the urge to write this story. When I started to write everything down, I realized I wanted to write a book about it. I wanted to be a thought leader to help people have as good an experience as they can in a hard time. It’s a possibility.”
With draft in hand, she attended a writer’s conference and took a memoir-writing class. It was published by She Writes Press earlier this year.
And the title, Bloom noted, was inspired by a story within the book that she carries with her to this day.
“When my mom went into hospice, they gave us a spiritual leader. She came to the house and when she was at the door, there was a red dragonfly fluttering next to her head. I was amazed at this little creature.
“(The spiritual leader) said the dragonfly was there for me to serve as a reminder that if I feel anger, to let it go. I thought that was weird, because I didn’t feel angry because I was too busy. As soon as she said that, the dragonfly flew away. So now, whenever I see a dragonfly, it’s a reminder to slow down, appreciate the simple things and let go of anger.”
Her daughter Melissa added: “My mom wrote the book so someone could read one chapter and get a lesson out of it. That’s what sets this book apart from others about the dying process. It was not to write this big thick book with all this research that is hard to process when you’re going through something hard in your life. Even though there are sad moments, there are moments of inspiration very quickly.”
— The book will launch at a private party at La Valencia Hotel, and an open-to-the-public event is scheduled in September. Warwick’s is slated to carry the book, which is also available wherever books are sold online ($16.95) and through simplejoys.com