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.