Speaker: Maki Kawamura

Stories with Dying Patients in Japan

Maki Saionji Kawamura is the Managing Director of Goi Peace Foundation in Japan, that brings “together people in wisdom, united in their hearts toward the common goal of peace on Earth” with events that have included the likes of Bill Gates and Nobel Laureates. She is also the Vice Chairperson of Byakko Shinko Kai, a 50-year-old organization that supports prayer as an instrument of social change.

Growing up in America and Germany, Maki’s high school experience of volunteering led her to pursue a career in medicine. After receiving an MD degree from Tokai University, she spent a year studying Eastern medicine before starting her practice as a pediatrician. That combination gave her profound insights not only into the human body but also into the curative capacities of the human mind and heart.

Witnessing her magnanimous grandfather's passing at the age of six left an enduring mark in Maki's heart. The visceral loss stirred her to wonder:  What is death and dying?  Can the process of dying be a peaceful experience for everyone?  In her teenage years, that formative question drove her to spend her summer breaks from school serving in a hospice.  Drawn to healing, she eventually went on to became a doctor, and then to steward a remarkable peace movement with her family in Japan.  Four years ago, Maki's journey found her stewarding a House of Joy to support people's journeys through cancer, and in the past year, she began a hospice to more deeply support people and families in the dying process.

They say we die the way we live.  Maki sees it first hand, in as many shades as there are fingerprints in humanity.  Her raw lessons from supporting the dying turn our gaze towards the values with which we walk through life.  Recently,  she recounted how, when a father lost his 22-year-old son, he held vigil next to his son's body for 24 hours. Each time a guest came, he invited them to share: "What was it that shone in his life to you?"  Like a midwife of the heart, she remarked, "He was breaking the patterns of a funeral, asking, 'How can his funeral be held in a way that people walk away blessed?'  That invited us all to reflect: how do we relate to our loved ones?'.  This person was gone, but undoubtedly exists in so many infinite ways."

Our 90-minute call will be moderated by Yogesh Parmar, a leading behavioural scientist and heartful leader; and Marilyn Dunn, a big-hearted volunteer who deeply cares for special needs animals and the environment.     

We will begin with a moderated conversation with Maki and conclude with an interactive activity to personally reflect on our relationship with death (and life) and the loved ones we've lost.  Questions we may hold include: What does dying teach us about living?  What questions come to life on one's deathbed?  What are the most common experiences people face at the end of life?  What am I least willing to let go of, and why?  How do the values of loved ones who've departed live on in our lives?

RSVP below to join for this virtual gathering to soak in the shining grace, humble spirit, and towering inner strength of Maki's remarkable insights in holding loss and love, grief and grace, impermanence and the infinite from the lens of the boundless heart that she embodies.

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