Are you facing a serious diagnosis?
Or maybe the news of your imminent death?
Are you struggling to deal with the reactions of those who love you?
Or do you love someone who is facing death?
Are you overwhelmed by the different treatment options available to you and the stream of well-meaning advice coming your way?
Through the loss of a close friend this year, I shared the experience of her receiving a diagnosis and the prognosis of imminent death. Apart from the loss of someone I loved very much, what shocked me on the journey with her, was the discovery of how our culture is so afraid to speak about death, even as the inevitability of it knocks at the door. As far as I know, my friend died, without ever speaking with those close to her, about the fact that she was dying.
Most people will do anything to deny what's really happening - sometimes it's the person who is ill who doesn't want to face the reality. But more often it's the loved ones who surround that person, who are desperately wanting to keep them alive at any cost.
This means that very often the person who is facing their last weeks or months on the planet, is left alone in their distress, with no safe place to talk about their fears, their regrets, their longings, their disappointment, or the totality of the mysterious journey they are facing. Instead they are met with well-meaning encouragement that everything will somehow be ok and they just need to go through the medical route and do what they're told, and accept the pain relief and pretend that they believe they can heal. Most dying people know the journey they're on and they don't believe the well-meaning things that people say to them.
I also saw first-hand that it's a rare thing for a death sentence to change a person's way of handling life. So most people meet death in the way they met life. If they blamed others or were fiercely independent and unable to receive from others, then it's likely they'll leave the world in the same way. Sometimes a dying person will have a personality change and finally speak their truth to their loved ones... and if that truth is hurtful, it might come as a huge shock. Finally the person has nothing to lose. Or else they're lashing out at those nearest them because they feel powerless in the face of death, and surrender doesn't match their personality.
In these situations, everyone needs support. And they won't always find it with each other. Death tends to highlight any relationship dynamics that were buried beneath the surface, and it blatantly faces us with our own vulnerability and our relationship with our self.
As someone we love disappears from their physical body, we are faced with our own mortality and it often feels horribly uncomfortable. As Sogyal Rinpoche says in The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying:
“A human being is part of a whole, called by us the 'Universe', a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest – a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature.”
~ Sogyal Rinpoche, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying
"I have found also, from my own experience, that it is essential not to take anything too personally. When you least expect it, dying people can make you the target of all their anger and blame. As Elisabeth Kübler-Ross says, anger and blame can 'be displaced in all directions, and projected onto the environment at times almost at random.' Do not imagine that this rage is really aimed at you; realizing what fear and grief it springs from will stop you from reacting to it in ways that might damage your relationship. Sometimes.”
In our current culture where science attempts to be in control of nature and people struggle to accept that WE ARE NATURE, and that our lives are part of the cycle of life and death on this planet, the space for consciously engaging with our own death is extremely limited.
As an herbalist and naturopath I can support your choices for quality of life, and work with vibrational healing to deal with the shock and release past trauma to allow deeper healing to happen.
My life experience has also given me an embodied awareness of other dimensions and the understanding that there is definitely more to life and beyond, than what we experience with our five senses.
Receiving spiritual support and relating current events to your soul journey can be comforting and reassuring as life is opening up this new adventure or transition for you. In the past I was privileged to hold space in my work as a guardian at the threshold of Birth. I now find myself and those I love approaching a new threshold, which demands the same honouring, the same presence and generosity, an open heart, an appreciation of the miracle that life is, and the space to acknowledge the love and wisdom the human journey has gifted uniquely to you.