How / Why did Emily Die? – The Emily Dahl Foundation

How / Why did Emily Die?

Katie and I had a wonderful dinner with my Uncle Russ and his partner Dolly.  The food and company were fantastic.

Part of the reason I wanted to see my Uncle Russ was to talk to him about my recent experience with Ted Ohlsen in Flin Flon which can be found at 

One of the carvings I got from Ted was this lovely carving of a fox pictured below.   I wanted to give a piece of Ted and the teachings of his carvings to my Uncle Russ so that every day he could touch the thoughts of Ted and the memory of his niece Emily Dahl. 

During the evening I told everyone the story of how I met Ted and how he helped me further understand the true nature of our existence on earth and how to overcome suffering and reach happiness. 

One of the couples at the dinner asked how Emily had died and I said, “she committed suicide”.  

 Upon reflection I think my answer could be better. 

Emily was an amazing 18-year-old woman who loved life, was full of compassion and wisdom and was always trying to help others.  She had a full life and in January 2019 she took her own life and transformed into another form but lives on within us all. 

We need a real awakening, enlightenment, to change our way of thinking and seeing things. To breathe in and be aware of your body and look deeply into it, realise you are the Earth and your consciousness is also the consciousness of the Earth.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

It is true that you carry Mother Earth within you. She is not outside of you. Mother Earth is not just your environment. In that insight of inter-being, it is possible to have real communication with the Earth, which is the highest form of prayer. In that kind of relationship, you have enough love, strength and awakening to change your life.

Fear, separation, hate, and anger come from the wrong view that you and the Earth are two separate entities, that the Earth is only the environment. That is a dualistic way of seeing.

Many people suffer deeply, and they do not know they suffer. They try to cover up the suffering by being busy. Many people get sick today because they get alienated from Mother Earth.

We have constructed a system we can’t control. It imposes itself on us, and we become its slaves and victims. We have created a society in which the rich become richer and the poor become poorer, and in which we are so caught up in our own immediate problems that we cannot afford to be aware of what is going on with the rest of the human family or our planet Earth.

If we are able to touch deeply the historical dimension – through a leaf, a flower, a pebble, a beam of light, a mountain, a river, a bird, or our own body – we touch at the same time the ultimate dimension. The ultimate dimension cannot be described as personal or impersonal, material, or spiritual, object or subject of cognition – we say only that it is always shining and shining on itself.

In late December 2018, our dear Aunt Liz died in a tragic accident.  It was in part Emily’s idea to go visit our Uncle Vern (Liz’s husband) in Hodgeville and showed immense compassion to Vern and his family. On that trip she said something remarkable to me that she had realized on her three-month trip to Belize from which she had just returned.  She said “Dad, there must be a better way to live that involves simplicity and compassion ” – like she experienced with the families she lived with and grew to love in Belize.  This was another sign along with the way Emily lived her life that she was very much in tune with what true happiness comes from – compassion and kindness. 

The carving with the fox was given to my Uncle Russ as a reminder of this reality.   So really, it is Emily through her actions and transformation that is telling us to wake up and search for true enlightenment. 

This kind of enlightenment is very crucial to a collective awakening. 

Touching the ultimate dimension, we feel happy and comfortable, like the birds enjoying the blue sky, or the fox enjoying the green fields. We know that we do not have to look for the ultimate outside of ourselves – it is available within us, in this very moment. 

So, there is much more to the question of what happened to Emily when she decided to transform herself. 

Emily acted as a rational person and abandoned prejudices of egotism and thus placed herself before others. 

The famous philosopher Śāntideva made the important observation that:

“If the suffering of one ends the suffering of many, then one who has compassion for others and himself/herself must cause that suffering to arise.” 

Sherman Dahl

Aug 20 ,2020