"May the wings of Spirit carry you through your day..." Alberto Villodo
I was speaking with a friend of mine recently and she was asking me what I like about what I do and what I get from it. I told her “If everyone sat with a dying person, this would be a very different world." “That’s your next blog,” she replied.
When I trained volunteers in hospice to sit with the dying, there were always two things that people were concerned or uncomfortable with. The first was usually the silence—if the patient was in a coma or was non-responsive. The second was, what to do? The answer to each is both simple and very challenging. Just be.
It is the ultimate meditation on our existence. To sit and be with the dying is an invitation to experience the full range of emotions of being human. It is an intimate, sacred journey that all of us will take. Yes folks, all of us! For me, it is about wanting to know what it is like at the end. It is said that knowledge is power. And yet very few people want to stop, slow down, and talk about “it.”
In our busy lives, for us not to be doing something is asking a lot. The reality is that we are doing something. We are being a witness to the end of a human life. A witness to another soul whose time has come to move on. That soul—like all of us—has loved, laughed, cried, and experienced triumph and disappointments. We are walking our brothers and sisters to the next level. We are supporting and loving this person—a person we sometimes do not even know. But we have a love for them because they are human.
We are sitting outside the gate to make sure that they find their way home. And no matter what their life looked like while they were here, they know that they are loved. This human, this container for soul, is not the stories, history, or the events that took place for them while they were here. They are not the atrocities they may have committed, or had committed against them.
To be with the dying means to take time to get out of your head and into your heart, no matter how many times your heart has been broken. Yes it is asking much. It’s asking very much. And what's in it for you? An understanding, an inner wisdom that we are indeed all one. You get to experience their world as they approach their transition and released from a body that no longer serves them. You get to feel the purity of joy, love, elation, and beauty. And yes, sadness—that emotion we do our best to avoid.
It does make a difference whether this soul crosses as a happy and light soul, or as an angry and troubled soul, as I had confirmed in my recent Ancestral and Family Healing intensive. By being there, you can contribute to making a difference for this soul. You cannot put a price tag or value on that. The rewards don't count for much on our self-obsessed, greed-driven, give-me-the-biggest, latest, greatest, most expensive economy of ours. The rewards transcend. They are quiet, strong, powerful, and healing.
I have been fortunate—and honored— to sit with people who had no one left in their lives. As their flesh begins to crumble like pastry and their organs are no longer able to cooperate, as their sweet scent turns rancid and no one touches them except to poke or prod them for yet another sample of something, is the time that they desperately need someone to hold their hand. They need to feel human and remember what it is to belong and to be loved. This simple act could change the world—if we all did it.