277. His Family Lost to HIV, He Helps Others Grieve and Live Life After Loss
Benjamin saw the oncoming car hurtling straight toward him at a deadly speed. As his head crashed into the windshield, for a split-second he felt indescribable peace. He was 20 years old. Decades later he’s still learning from the experience….
Benjamin Allen’s life was devastated by the death of his wife and two children through an HIV infection. It became the watershed experience that reshaped his life. Lydia was infected in 1982 at the birth of their first son, Matt, through a transfusion of blood platelets. After the deaths of his 2 sons and wife, he went to Thailand to teach English, where he met his second wife, Rachel Flower, a British national. When they decided to move to the U.S. in 2006, Benjamin began his grief work, which he refers to as “living with loss.”
How Did You Start Using Your Talents?
Benjamin had a near-death experience at age 20, when a drunk driver hit his car head-on at a high rate of speed. As he attempted to understand his out-of-body experience and his miraculous recovery, he opened himself up to spirituality. Decades later, dealing with the tragic HIV-related losses in his family, he draws on spiritual resources as he helps other people who are living with loss.
The Most Impactful Turning Point?
Benjamin’s is a life filled with dramatic turning points, which gives him a unique understanding of life passages and passions. “The thing that’s interesting about finding one’s passion, from my experience, is that every moment is a turning point. Every moment is a choice, every moment in consciousness we follow a path or we create a path. There are major events, but it’s the small decisions that I make that create the path, not the large ones.”
The Most Powerful Lessons Learned?
When Benjamin told the congregation about the transfusion-related HIV status of his family members, he was asked to leave. Later, in his work for a denominational agency, he was helping people with AIDS find welcome in local churches. It was early in the epidemic and fear was rampant. “My belief system is one of inclusion, not exclusion. So, I had to move away from that. What hit me was, what I really wanted to do with my life were two things: 1) live a life of integrity, wholeness, and authenticity; and, 2) seek wisdom. That’s been the template for me for 30-some-years. And I want to glean the most I can of this experience on this planet, and to find how I can give back to life.”
Steps to Success from Benjamin Allen
1. Live with integrity, and harmony between your inner life and your outer life.
2. Recognize that passion comes out of who you are, not what you do.
3. Each day, remember the pricelessness of every moment. Ask yourself, “How do I want to engage in this moment?”
4. As you gain wisdom from life, remember: If you want to keep it, you have to give it away.
On His Bookshelf
Out of the Ashes: Healing in the AfterLoss, by Benjamin Scott Allen
Healing in the AfterLoss: A Personal Pathway through Grief, by Benjamin Scott Allen
Connecting With Benjamin Allen
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