The Death of Ivan Ilych

Title: The Death of Ivan Ilych

Author: Leo Tolstoy

Rating: 7/10

This book, short and powerful in its delivery, reminded me of the importance of ‘meeting’ a client exactly where they are – fully understanding their SOI (System Of Interpretation) and how they relate to and with the world.

Often, it is not what a client says that is of most importance, but rather what s/he does not say.

I am re-learning how important it is to remain open and curious with all beings I engage with – what is going on inside? What is not being said? What is being communicated through the body (illness; posture; expression, etc)?

The internal world of Ivan Ilych totally fascinated and captivated me.

Ivan Ilych grew to deeply resent those round him who he considered to be living in a state of falsity and denial.

Whilst these feelings were an outward projection of that which was occurring within, Ivan was not aware of this for quite some time.

As a coach, it is my responsibility to embody truth and to be a mirror for my client.

Ivan, given the opportunity and support, could have benefited greatly from exploring his impact on the world; identifying toxic relationships; and exploring how best to remove these or mend them.

Death as the only constant.

Death is the ultimate result for everything on this planet, yet it is a truth that most of us ignore.

The capacity to hold safe space for a client to explore their fears is an important quality of a coach, and indicative of the coach-client relationship.

The exploration of death has been quite personal for me and

reading this book prompted me to reflect on my own experience with, and relationship to death, as seen through my mother.

I find myself asking whether or not she was aware that she was dying (for this was a fact that she strongly resisted/denied to everyone around her).

I wonder about the deep sense of responsibility that my mother felt she had to protect all of us (because she felt we could not handle the truth, and to be honest I don’t believe we could), and how this must have weighed on her.

I wonder whether she was even aware of the aforementioned… I do know that my mother felt incredibly loved and supported by all those who comprised of her ‘Inner circle’ – we did represent the strength and light that she needed. And, it worked. Doctors could not understand how a woman who they decided had only 3 months to live, fought for 14 months. I do believe that the support my mother felt, and her absolutely immense inner strength and fighting spirit is what is responsible for this miracle.

However, on the other hand, I wonder how much of this was ‘spiritual bypassing’… ‘denial’?

I wonder when it was, and what it was that shifted to eventually allow my mother to let go, and to embrace death.

There are so many questions…

It is books such as "The Death of Ivan Ilych", and "A year to Live" that remind me of the importance of exploring this relationship within myself.

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