Monthly Archives: September 2014

The Inner Work of Dying

The Inner Work of Dying

Our connection deep within as our guide

My work with families at the end of life brings me intimately into their walks through this world and from it.  The discussion of the work that is involved in the dying process includes the physical symptoms of pain, weakness, shortness of breath, and anxiety.  We hospice nurses are well educated on how to manage these symptoms, and have a long list of medications and ‘tricks of the trade’ to assist.  There is another element of this work that I cherish sharing: it is the deep inner work of connection to our spirits that must also happen. We can become participants in releasing our bodies, and I believe this is the most important of all.

I watch the ill focusing on their outer lives, often with a fierce attempt to grasp each and every moment they have with the people and lives that they love.  Yet I gently remind them that time alone is needed; for rest but also to seek that inner place of alignment with this process.  It is a skill that grows with focus; the words and feelings, the images and the deep knowing becomes ever more sharp if it is sought.  Just as meditation requires practice to quiet our busy minds as we become attuned to those same guiding whispers of our soul, so too for those caught between life and death.

Illness often includes the physical symptoms I listed above.  The medications that help through these cloud the mind.  This is usually a necessary outcome.  So in the moments that clarity of mind is possible;  when the body is free of pain or other intense distractions, it is so important to guide those we love within themselves.  To seek their connection with their soul.  To find the comfort of spirit and the guidance that is always present.  This peacefulness often helps to diminish the intensity of the physical symptoms, and promotes a more peaceful death.

Just as bringing a physical life into this world is hard work and demands deep inner connection and quiet, so too releasing our bodies and birthing ourselves into the next life requires the same.  I find myself joyous and tearful at both of these sacred events.







Home and Nature

I find myself struggling to keep my passion for writing, for sharing, and for beauty flowing freely.  I wonder why any job feels it is appropriate to demand my focus rather than to promote a healthy lifestyle that will radiate back to my worklife.  I am scheduled to work ten hour days, yet each of these days spills over into many more hours.  This is the norm here;  my seasoned coworkers that have provided hospice care for many years found they must long ago surrender to this demand.

I see and hear the anger and resentment in all of us.  I see and hear the exhaustion.  I marvel at the compassion and expertise that we all continue to operate under, the love we show to those we care for.  Yet it is expected that we will do more;  that we will somehow be more productive;  that we will meet these unhealthy demands in the name of caring.

Caring for who?  How is caring for others seen as superceding caring for ourselves?  How does a company filled with passionate professionals operate under the assumption that we are here to serve others but not ourselves?  It brings to mind the bitterness of nuns of old.  And this is truly old thinking.

I intimately know that giving of myself naturally flows from giving to myself.  That boundaries are true kindness to all, that they contain respect for the empowerment of all rather than a few.  I marvel at this culture that I struggle through.  I remain because I am invested in end of life care.  Yet my investment to myself will always come first.  We shall see how this proceeds.  For today I am joyful, I am home, I am renewing myself with my gorgeous home and nature.  And soon with others to connect with and enrich us both.

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