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Peace requires us to surrender our illusions of control. We can love and care for others, but we can not possess our children, our lovers, family, or friends. We can assist them, pray for them, and wish them well. Yet in the end their happiness and suffering depend on their thoughts and actions, not on our wishes.~ Jack Kornfield

I didn’t realize what a tight ship I run, that is, until my children and grandchildren arrived for a visit. You have to realize that I live in a very controlled environment, where predictability assures safety. Gentle, lighthearted conversation, belly-laughing humor, along with deep intimacy and Presence is the norm. Enter four adults and two boys under the age of seven and we have a decibel level and chaos not common in my (probably) overly controlled physical space. Upon their arrival, each of my dear caregivers and friends comment on the physical and energetic difference of my living space.

And when my family leaves, they notice my fullness of heart bursting with a panoply of emotions including grief from the void left behind, the memories from our past that cannot be relived, as well as the relief that with each visit we have fewer unexamined or unresolved issues together. I am left with equal proportions of deep grief and deep joy.

Each visit feels special in its own way, but the visit last March seemed particularly deep and a bit less fragmented than usual. There were less opportunities for long individual conversations, but more building of love and cohesion as a family unit. Perhaps because the boys are getting older there are more opportunities for connection that doesn’t involve physicality, of which I am completely and regretfully incapable. Jordan came a week early to have mama time – my boy and his mama – and a week later his girlfriend Emily, Casey, Kumar, River, and Luc arrived.

The background of this visit included a movie being filmed by Kumar with River, Keyahi, Luc and Amali as the stars. I was cast as the Oracle. 🙂 I have to admit that the Oracle participated in the game of Cards Against Humanity on two different occasions with adult family and friends during this visit. If you have not played this game, the liberation that results from this sort of catharsis cannot be measured by trips to a therapist or pharmaceutical medicine. Try it. You will be horrified and humiliated, but if you can weather it, you will experience the immense liberation that comes from casting out all of our inhibitions.

Luc, my four-year-old grandson, is an adorable handful. (He is the one under the table in the photograph.) I’m not sure what it is about second children, but I see this pattern over and over again. Although with Casey and Jordan, a milder version of the opposite was true, which was probably due to their wider age difference. Luc is the child who tests every boundary presented, often for his own safety, and at other times for his parent’s sanity. It’s a good thing Luc is so adorable, because his will is pretty fierce at times. Both of his parents adore him, have a high threshold for his willfulness, and continually provide him with love as medicine. Luc was the child who, at two years old, poked the cat eight times in order to learn she would scratch him every time when he didn’t honor her boundaries. Casey eventually needed to intervene, because he still didn’t get it. Casey and I have this sort of tenacity in us as well. When it can be harnessed, it is a useful life skill in an adult, but this quality in a child is not easy to parent.

First children are considered the hero child. Perhaps the second child needs to enter with a vengeance to show us who they are, possibly to topple the heroes from their perceived throne. My beloved caregiver and friend told me her theory – if they gave you your second child first, you wouldn’t have a second child. 🙂

Each time they come to visit we get closer and closer. There is so much gratitude for each visit, while at the same time the impending grief grows. The courage it takes for each of us to continue to open and not shut down in the face of the inevitable Great Grief is profound. I think my respect for them grows along with a certain capacity to hold the grief.

Luc is also the child who is completely uninhibited and forthright. He came to me and said, “You’re going to die.” Fortunately, after working with children for nearly a decade, I don’t get rattled by much. I replied, “Yes, I have to get my angel wings.” This gave me the opening to have the conversation with him I’d been wanting to have. I told him that I would be with him his whole life and he could always speak to me, but he wouldn’t see me with his eyes, only his heart.

Later that day, I had a similar conversation with his older brother, River. This conversation needed to be more sophisticated, because River is less in the magical thinking stage and more concrete. River has been precocious since day one and requires more Presence when engaging with him. If you have had one conversation with River, you know this about him.

This was a groundbreaking visit and auspicious in its timing, because my physical condition has begun to rapidly decline. I hope I have the chance to reinforce these beliefs, that as I move toward the end of my life, feel more like truths. Casey was a witness to these conversations and I’m sure she will reinforce them for the boys and for herself. Casey was the child who taught me about the other vibration. When one of her children is struggling, she can recognize the greater missions they have undertaken. I trust she will be able to find me.

Sometimes, children’s eyes can see what adults’ have forgotten. May they feel my love through the veil with their hearts and not their minds. And if they have trouble finding me, perhaps Luc can show them the Way.

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“Pain and happiness are simply conditions of the ego. Forget the ego.” -Lao Tsu

Late 80s

Late 80s

Jordan was born in 1985. His father and I were deeply in love and Jordan was born with much love and readiness on the part of his immediate family. His sister Casey, had been asking for a baby sister or brother for years. Being nearly seven years old when he was born, she was allowed to hold him and watch over him as much as a seven-year-old could.

There is an expression that true happiness is when you realize your children have grown up to be wonderful people. My son is a wonderful person. He is deep and sensitive, intelligent and he loves his mother very much, which is a quality I find admirable. Smile.

When his father and I separated, his heart was broken for the first time. No doubt this catastrophe in his life also fed his depth and sensitivity. Who knows why “things” happen to people. I never believe these things are arbitrary; not marriages, divorces, illnesses or addictions for that matter. (For an evocative read on this theory see Robert Schwartz’s books on soul plans. They changed my life.)

During my last essay, when discussing my difficulty breathing, Jordan offered a quote from the Smashing Pumpkins:

A pure soul and beautiful you, don’t understand
Don’t feel me now, [I will breathe, for the both of us]
Travel the world, traverse the skies
Your home is here, within my heart

This, and much more, is what my son offers the people he loves. I have come to terms with many of the losses from this terminal illness and have transformed those losses into gains. The hardest is losing physical proximity to my children. When Casey, my firstborn, left for college I had to prepare emotionally for years to deal with this grief. I talked about this grief, performed rituals surrounding my perceived loss and wrote about it. Probably, the deepest teachings on grief surrounding my children have been from five discarnate monks who imparted these profound words. Instead of paraphrasing, I will print their original, penetrating communication:

Loved one, you must rest assured that death and loss are an essential piece of life that is so often ignored in this time on earth. Not only will your family be ok, but they will be matured through this gift of sharing your experience. Death is a beautiful path home to a place of peace and joy and magic. We are bothered with the sanitization of death from life as though it were a disease or a plaque or scourge or evil. It is none of those things. The false sense of immortality that cripples the souls of so many will not cripple your family. Your family will always be more aware than others, more present, more able to love and forgive. Please understand that through what they have witnessed in you, they will be much more aware as human beings with a broader perspective on life. We suggest again, although we know it will take much will power (of which you have an abundance), that when walking through the valley of the shadows of fear, you tell yourself “this is not real”. Right now, your fears of death and for your family are fears of the unknown. That is truly what they are. Just like the primal need for survival, the fear of the unknown is powerful. And the lower self can chime in and say “what will they do without me?” The truth is that your power becomes a part of all of them. Your words and your presence and your attitude and experience filters through them even now, but in death, you are sealed into their souls. This is not what we say to sound “Pollyanna”, but this is truth. Real truth. Try to resist the “boogey men under the bed”. Your loved ones will miss you and they will grieve, as is healthy for the emotional body, but they will rebound with your power and take that into the remainder of their lives with them as a part of their constitution. Continue to show your grandchildren your hope and power over mind. They will not be lost in a quagmire of sorrow or loss or feel abandoned. They will always be strengthened by your courage and their lives changed by the acceptance and awareness of the transition of the body as a natural flow of life and love.

Whatever one thinks about how these teachings were imparted, one cannot discount the quality of the message. I have found tremendous comfort in these words and hope others, my beloved readers, will as well. I think it was Ram Dass who said that we are all just walking each other Home.

“… If the earthly and no longer knows your name, whisper to the silent Earth: I’m flowing.” – Rainer Maria Rilke

Forgiveness-WebAfter I completed my book, I questioned whether it was time to leave my body, whether my Work was done; I thought about dying. I didn’t particularly want to think about it, it was just there as a viable option. After all, my level of functioning is pretty primitive on a physical level. I have been reading Kathleen Singh’s book titled, The Grace In Dying where she discusses something I had been contemplating, that Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s five stages of dying, so familiar to the general public, were actually states of ego. And after moving through these ego states, there is a state of transcendence that is beyond the ego. Kathleen goes into much more detail about the later stages, beyond the original five stages. She elaborates that the acceptance stage can include much panic and despair, and it is beyond these five stages where surrender happens. I really couldn’t read much more, because I was experiencing too much panic and despair!

I’m really not sure what my next piece on the path is. This place of not knowing is probably the hardest place to be on the spiritual path, whether one is able-bodied or not. I really don’t know… Yesterday there was much despair present, but today that has lifted to a large degree. I slept eight hours and dreamed a lot. What has come out of it is that I will meditate more. MSNBC has been my drug of choice. Some part of me keeps “hoping” that greed will recede and empathy will prevail. ISIL will “see the light.” And maybe as this story unfolds, I will walk again and then snow ski.

Actually, keeping current with the news and interviews of artists and new films and books, helps keep me relevant while in my physical body, though much of the news can be depressing. In all honesty, I did not turn MSNBC off, it stopped working mysteriously. Sometimes I can’t help from unseen forces. My choices to accept this, graciously. As I turn toward it internally, the panic and despair recede. There is more me available.

After all, this is really no different from any other major transition in my life. Well, maybe it is somewhat different.

Questions about my mortality and my ultimate transition become clearer through self-reflection. I mean, who gets to be with these questions calmly and consciously? Would following the trajectory of choosing palliative care through hospice, thereby employing a medication to increase my respiration be copping out? It reminds me of the personal decisions surrounding childbirth, an apt comparison. Natural childbirth or an epidural? Should this birth be induced? How much medical intervention feels right to me? Is there an undercurrent of political agenda influencing the trajectory? I believe how one navigates these transitions is a personal choice for each individual and their family.

Do I have the courage to do this “birth” differently? Instead of choosing a cesarean out of fear like I did in the past, could I just weather the panic and despair as it arose and move into the transpersonal realms? After all, I am very familiar with the transpersonal; I spent fifteen years traveling those realms in breath work.

Maybe, just maybe, I have the patience and courage to do this Sacred transition using my own internal resources that I have been developing over the thirty years since I birthed my babies. Making this transition consciously would require trusting myself and the Universal Love more than I ever have. As of late, I have begun a practice of creating presence internally, by consistently meditating twice a day with the intention of clearing mental and emotional interference. After all, the practice of meditation by many teachers has been described as practicing the dying process, something we will all do.

I suspect that by continuing my daily practices, I will be supported, living the most satisfying life I could’ve imagined with this curriculum while still in my body. Living consciously, with integrity, can only be the best prerequisite to dying with grace.

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Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. more...

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