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PHILOSOPHY ON DEATH

 “Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity”

- Pema Chodron_

Uncertainty can inspire fear or curiosity. Death is an uncertainty, I believe here in North America we fear it, we are a death phobic society. It is almost always talked about in the future tense as if possibly it will not happen.

When people refuse to tell their dying spouses, children, parents, elderly, or friends that they are dying, they believe they are saving them from knowing they are dying. The families of the dying person some times do not want the person who is dying to know.  My years of experience with death and dying has shown me that these people we think we are protecting from this knowledge truly know they are dying.  I believe knowing we could be dying begins our dying. One of the craziest things we believe about death is that you have a right not to know that you are dying, or that you will die.

None of us get out of here alive, so if dying is inevitable, why do we have to learn how to do it? Why is it so hard to die? It may be in part that mortality and death is in this day and age, a medical experience, one that we are dreadfully failing at.

The elderly have seen their deaths coming for a while. They have seen the end of  many things; their vitality and health, the deaths of loved ones, the end of the plans of that they would do if  death were not standing beside them. Their death becomes their most faithful companion. They will be dying slowly, a long life and a quick death does not happen for them.

I feel after more than 30 years working with the dying in many different arenas, that death is not understood at all. Knowing we are dying in our culture is where the real pain and suffering starts. A code of silence settles over us when dying really needs talking through. 

I am humbled to say that I have been witness to many, varied types of death. I have been called on to do much as an advocate for those who cannot communicate or those who literally cannot communicate in the med-tech world that we “professionals” so easily hide behind at times. Truth, transparency, and candor elude us when we are faced with the most important task of giving it to people at this time in their lives. This has led to people living their dying alone; scared, suffering and many times prolonging death.

Whether or not we will die does not depend on diagnosis or the statistics of prognosis. Death really depends on ones willingness to know difficult things, to be curious, and to be courageous.

I believe we are here for a time, indeterminate to us, to walk our journeys’ path, for each of us, a different one, just as death is different for all of us. What the meaning of our life is has much to do with our dying, the true moments, real connections in the flesh, your soul beliefs, the legacy your life has after you are not on the Earth plane. This is something possibly one should reflect on during life, long before you are told you are dying. Our living has everything to do with our dying.

Death for a person is mysterious work, work on a Spiritual level that I have witnessed many times. Dying is not what happens to you , it is what you do.

I  pray that I can navigate my death with love in my heart, grace and humility. Life has a limit, most of us will not know when the end will be, despite the well intentioned medical professional’s statistical prophecy of “your time left.” I believe we leave when we are done, for dying is not physical work, it is Spiritual. Having witnessed death, and the changes one has working through it, is life changing for those of us who work in this area. I am grateful for the journey that my life is on, for what I have learned and for the heart and soul that has led me to do this work.

I am here to share my passion, to serve those who are between two worlds. To tread lightly as an emotional ally, a mere mortal to walk beside you as genuinely as possible, is my  heartfelt commitment to you.

     

Finding My Way

Grief rains down, sometimes pouring, sometimes drop by drop, onto your heart, permeating your soul…the sounds around you dull, as does the color of your world…

Until one day by the grace of God your heart begins to beat again, the rhythm soothes you, softens you as the light of the Divine brightens your world…..

Your loss remains as an imprinted memory, always with you as your heart reaches out beyond the sadness, honoring your grief while bravely opening, reaching for life, joy and what is coming…..

-J Fitzpatrick