Thursday, July 12, 2012

The gift of emotion at a memorial service

Many people have the feeling that it is wrong to cry at a memorial service. "I need to be strong for the family!" However I feel that being real with your feelings is important and can actually be of service to others attending.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Feeling your loved ones's presence after they have gone is an important part of the grieving process. When my father was 89 years old he died suddenly of a heart attack. He and my mother lived right next door to us. Yes we knew that he had heart disease, but he had just been to his doctor the day before and was told that his heart was doing fine. On that day he also worked in his workshop and visited friends in the hospital as well as a visit to play with children in a pre school. His death was a total shock to me and I grieved deeply. I wanted to save all of his clothes for they still had his smell. Once I was shopping in a large supermarket and had my basket filled with organic fruits and vegetables. As I was reaching for bananas I looked up to see a little old man pushing his cart past me. He looked just like my dad. Tears burst from my eyes and I had to run from the store to my car, where I cried for a long time. I missed my father terribly.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Recently I talked with a friend as she was sitting with a woman who was dying. My friend had been there for almost 24 hours just sitting and helping when she could. This was one of her closest friends. Not many people were there that could relieve her, and so she felt that she needed to stay to be present for the actual time when her friend took her final breath. She was tired beyond words, but felt that she needed to keep sitting close to her friend.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Receiving help

A young woman has written to me because her father just died and her mother has a very serious stage 4 cancer. She does not know what to say to people when they ask if there is anything they can do to help. She wonders if they are serious in their request as at times it feels very shallow. It seems they don't know what to say because it is so tragic, so they say "can I help", but it doesn't feel very sincere. What does a person do in a situation like this?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The main article of Time Magazine this week is called, "How to Die", by Joe Klein. In this article he writes about his parents death and how he felt while caring for them. Even though he is a Time writer, Washington correspondent and many other lofty positions, he felt lonely, frustrated and powerless at times in caring for them. However he also felt richly blessed by being able to be with them on a daily basis in their dying experience. These are feelings that are normal for whoever is caring for a dying person. In this blog I want to give support to all of these feelings, and especially bring forth the blessings of being with a dying person.

In our book, "A Mother's Final Gift", our family of five cared for my mother in the last year of her life. We all felt at times lonely in our experience of caring for her, powerless and frustrated over the changes that came with her decline but mostly we felt an enormous blessing for the privilege of being able to be with her. All of our feelings need to be accepted and honored if we are to truly be able to be with a dying person. Being with a person who is dying can be a positive life changing experience and is worth all of the hardship and personal pain. It is a chance at personal growth that is hard to find in any other situation in life.

Sunday, July 10, 2011


We were visiting our friend who is dying. As I stepped into his room I could sense a profound peace. He told us that he feels angels all around him. As we described in our new book A Mother's Final Gift, my mother was comforted and guided by angels throughout her dying experience. Death truly can be so beautiful and it is such a comfort to know that we are never alone, especially in this great transition of death.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Living more fully and joyously

Today a very lovely woman named Clare came to talk with us. She loved our book A Mother's Final Gift and wants to help us get it into the hands of more people. Her passion in life is conscious end of life care. We talked about the problem of DOD, denial of death. Perhaps many of us have DOD to some degree. We see a very elderly person just barely able to get around and we think, "Oh that won't happen to me." We hear of people dying of cancer or being killed suddenly in a car accident and we compassion for them, but again are in denial that that could be us. Once in a workshop in Hawaii a young man with AIDS was close to death. (this was before any treatment had been found for AIDS)  We had him come into the middle of the circle and we were sending him healing light while our musician Charley Thweatt sang to him. At the end of the song he looked around the circle at all of us and remarked, "You are looking at me like I am having an experience that you will never have. Each one of you will have this experience of dying at some time. It just happens to be my time right now." I often reflect on his words.