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In Gratitude for Michael

I always knew I’d have to write these words some day but had hoped to push this task off for months or even years but life doesn’t work like that.

Death came for my friend Michael Bischoff this week. He slipped from this world surrounded, uplifted and sent forward into his new life by the love of his family.

Michael and I met through my friend Bruce Kramer. Michael never met Bruce but Bruce became his “coach”as Michael navigated life with brain cancer. Michael and his wife Jenny read “We Know How This Ends: Living while Dying” as he received chemotherapy. They listened to Bruce’s words during our MPR News podcast. Michael lived as Bruce did in spite of a life limiting illness. Michael chose love over fear, connection over isolation, acceptance over resistance.

He lived with an open heart and an open mind.

When I first met Michael at a Minneapolis Tibetan restaurant three years ago, it felt as though Bruce was speaking through him such was the conversation. After that, Michael and I would meet at his favorite spot on the banks of the Mississippi River to talk about his fears and joys and how his life was changing through the lens of his mortality and the ravages of cancer. We laughed and we cried, just as Bruce and I did years before. This photo captured a leaf that floated past, during our last river visit in November of 2019. It was the only leaf in that area of the river at the time and it was perfectly timed as we talked about death and dying. 

I got to see my friend for the last time a couple of weeks before his death. I’m grateful for that. Grateful for the tears and last bit of wisdom from Micheal. He encouraged me to continue my work to help people develop capacity to deal with what’s most difficult: loss, dying and death. He felt, as do I, that the sharing of stories around what’s most hurtful helps in healing what’s wounded in all of us.

If you’re not familiar with Michael Bischoff’s extraordinary journey, please read his Caringbridge page. It’s been visited nearly 130,000 times and for good reason. My friend was generous in sharing his wisdom and his spirit. He will be missed by many.

 

 

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