Good Grief! In Memory of Dr. John Anderson

We just got back from a celebration of the passing of our good friend, Dr. John Anderson on Sunday, October 27 at the Merryman Beach House on Moonstone Beach in Trinidad, California. John passed away on September 29, the same day that my daughter, Jessica left for Barcelona. He was a dear friend of ours from the mid 1970’s.


Ten years ago, John was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma and was treated with chemotherapy which gave him ten more years of life. I had the privilege to witness two of his appointments with Michael Broffman at the Pine Street Clinic in San Anselmo, California. This is the same place where I lead Mindfulness in Healing on Wednesday nights.

Most people make a bucket list. John lived his. He spent time in India, Mexico, and other places throughout the world and continued to have adventures outdoors after moving from Nashville, Tennessee to Arcata, California in 2010.

so-much-magnificenceThe celebration was an example of good grief, as one of the more than 100 guests said when she shared one of her remembrances of John. We celebrated John’s passing in a style suitable for this fun loving, outrageously happy, spiritually engaged life.

After a period of eating, drinking, and mixing, John’s brother, David led a toast followed by devotional singing and chanting that touched everyone of us deeply. We joined in the songs and the chants and were uplifted by the talented musicians.

Next, Joellen read a booklet she had prepared with the family about John’s life. In real life, he was an emergency room physician for 25 years in Nashville, Tennessee. He provided well for his family.

Then, we were given an opportunity to share a story, an experience, or a memory of John to illustrate his love of life.

The event concluded with a walk down to Moonstone where a small amount of John’s ashes were released along with flower petals. We broke into a chant of the closing words of Magnificence.

Hallelujah, Hallelujah…
There is so much magnificence
near the Ocean, near the Ocean
There is so much magnificence
Waves are coming in
Waves are coming in

The whole celebration was coordinated by Kirsten, his oldest child. She manage to rally her friends to create a beautiful experience for all. It was amazing how efficient they were in setting up, serving, cleaning up, and supporting the Anderson family and friends.

I was so overwhelmed by the number of people who attended and the depth of their sharing that I felt it would be inappropriate for me to share something I had prepared for the family rather than a story or a memory of John. Instead, I walked up to each of John’s children and said something like the following.

My dear Kirsten, Eric, Jessica, Mary, and Marti: Whenever you are missing your dad, and I am sure there will be times when you do, please remember that you are a continuation of John. In you, 50% of all your cells are made up of John. You don’t have to go very far to find him.

When you do sitting meditation or walking meditation, you can invite that part of you which is John to sit with you or walk with you. You can smile at him and be a peace because you know that he is in you and you are in him.

You could say, “Dear father in me, do you want to breathe in with me? Dear father in me, do you enjoy breathing out with me?’ Then let yourself breathe in and out with John and smile. Just allow yourself to feel this.

The second part was to offer these loving kindness blessings to the family and all the guests, which I do now:

May you be safe from internal and external harm.
May you have a calm, clear mind and a peaceful, loving heart.
May you be strong, healthy, and vital.
May you experience love, joy, wonder, and wisdom in this life, just as it is!

There is another aspect of good grief that I wanted to share with the family. Please find it in your heart to forgive yourself for anything you may have done in your life to cause John pain. Then forgive John for all of his trespasses. Continue to practice forgiveness until you feel healed.

There will always be a place in my heart for John and his family. I’ve known all the kids since their childhood and they are a wonderful family.

Would you like to share something with John and his family? Please write it below.

Connect with Meditation Practices

Connect with

Or enter your name and email address below.