Category Archives: Gifts, Gratitude, Grace and other final feelings

An emotional window of opportunity opens at the end of life…we should groom it for all of its gifts.

Editor’s Note: Please note Sherri’s exquisite and beautiful attention to detail and environment as her father died. She created a sacred space, a sacred dying experience for her father and her family. Death is and can be further groomed to become a holy moment–this is most easily accomplished if dying can occur in the home. Imagine the stark contrast of experience that may have occured if instead, his dying took place in a hospital room or ICU. Continue reading

Dad didn’t feel like dying. He felt full of life and longing to live. He had more to do, more to say, more to feel, to taste, to write, to experience. He was angry and sad, disappointed and confused, scared and brave, unaccepting and, finally, accepting.

For the past three years, I talked to him daily to be as close as I could. I listened as he told me everything he could think of about his day; he often told me the same things twice. Our time together was coming to an end, and although we didn’t know when that would happen, we knew it was coming sooner than we wished.

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Throughout the course of my career I have probably been with hundreds of people as they transitioned into AND out of death. Although I am familiar with what this journey looks like, I have not yet been privy to the journey myself. Rarely though, I have had the pleasure of listening to someone who has journeyed back from death and arrived with a story to tell. Regardless of your position on the validity of near death experiences, take this one for what it’s worth to you-

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Please raise your hand if you are NOT going to die.

If you haven’t found the fountain of youth and we haven’t perfected anti-aging technology, then you my friend are going to die. But you are not alone, so am I, and so is your mother and your father and your brothers and sisters and even little Johnny down the street.

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I pulled the stifling surgical mask off my face as I left my last patient’s room. I had just finished suturing a complicated facial laceration and was bone-tired from the evening. Glancing at the clock, I saw that mercifully, my shift was over.

Collapsing into my chair to finish up my charting, I was slightly annoyed when my nurse held a clip-board in front of my face, “Here is your next patient.”

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Emotional wellness is important to cultivate in all phases of living, but may be most naturally available at the end of life—the very time when the wellness of the body may be waning.

How is this so?

When people have a sure knowledge that they are nearing the end of their lives, a new type of energy is unleashed. Old inhibitions and blockages may be released. An emotional and spiritual window of opportunity opens which allows love to be shared more freely, old grudges to fall away in insignificance, and relationship healing to occur which seemed unobtainable at other times of life. Continue reading

He looked dead. The paramedics brought him down the hall toward one of my critical care beds, and for a moment I thought the patient was dead. He was nearly the same color as the pale sheet covering his thin frame. His cheeks were sunken in and his eyes were gazing upward, in what I sometimes call the “death stare.” Then, surprisingly, he moved his arm upward to push his oxygen mask off of his face, resting it atop his head like one would wear a pair of glasses not in use. Continue reading