I am reminded of a gentleman I met almost 30 years ago, Mr. David Fairfield, who got sober, and
was rebuilding his life very effectively when he was given a diagnosis of cancer.
When I spoke to him he seemed mystified as to why it was happening to him, and I was unable to
do anything but listen.
I did not get to talk to him again before his death, (we did not have a professional relationship),
but many people in the AA community were very upset by the diagnosis, and began to spin out of
control emotionally. (We had a small community back then).
David gathered strength from some deep place and modeled what I will call a conscious and
purposeful dying and legacy for the AA community in Bloomington, Il.
He taught those of us lucky enough to know him about moving effectively towards this inevitable
part of our lives, and in so doing modeled appropriate death and bereavement for many in the AA
I do not know that he had a counseling resource, although I believe that he would have sought
out professional help from his religious guides, and perhaps his AA sponsor. I hope he did not
have to bear that community burden alone.
It is snowing where I am now, in Rockford, Illinois, with my four year old daughter in the tub
upstairs and my wife Julie getting ready for work, and we are headed towards the winter solstice,
which is always a time of reflection and reassessement for me, a time of slowing down, and
I wonder if Dave had a bereavement counselor?
And what is a bereavement counselor?
Everything dies. It's a fact of life we learn at a very young age. But this knowledge doesn't make
experiencing the death of a beloved friend, colleague, family member or pet any more bearable.
Often when people die, the feelings of grief, anger and dismay of those they have left behind
Individuals or whole families can fall apart as a result of a death, and it requires an outside