Holding Hands With the Dying

 

1354 Relax and Succeed - Holding Hands with the DyingWhen I do it, it’s usually for a client. But not that long ago I helped a dear friend die. The way it happened we didn’t have a lot of time, but enough to have a couple really beautiful heart to hearts.

Like many sick people, he liked that I didn’t have a hyper cautious or maudlin way about me. Unlike many, he loved the world the way it was. He wasn’t interested in overextended expressions of sympathy. He was in a state of acceptance and he wanted connection.

Dying is new for each new ego. Having someone there to hold our hands in a particularly profound (even if not physical) sense can make that journey less daunting and more wondrous. Due to preparation, we didn’t have much ‘daunting’ stuff to deal with then, but we did talk about awe, which can feel similar.

I’d met this friend as a student of these classes, so our flow of language was very helpful. We had some terminology for some pretty nebulous things and at that time that really helped. He had always been eager and diligent and he made the most of everything I shared with him. Anyone who knew him considered him a lightning rod for energy and enthusiasm.

He was very kind and generous with his words and he was extremely forgiving as well. By the time he’d died he had the ability to extend all of those qualities to himself too. That too is a beautiful thing. With no history to slay or lost future to hope for, we stayed present and talked about the journey he was on.

Part of that included discussions about potentially embarrassing physical issues and hospital life, but almost all of it was about the wonder of a lifetime and the wonder of death as well.

1354 Relax and Succeed - Even through death

 

We discussed the fact that he didn’t have to worry about dying itself. Death had plenty of experience and it was in charge. Mostly we talked about how marvellous his life –ugliest warts and all– had been. And how exciting the next mysterious step was.

The joy he felt in looking at his life in that non-judgmental way was so incredibly beautiful to behold that it still stirs me deeply. Even his anxious excitement about death felt more like someone breathing deeply before stepping onto a stage for the first time.

It was difficult knowing that so many people in that building were facing a similar fate, and yet so many are often scared and alone –if not in the physical sense, at least in the spiritual sense.

Several times I’ve overheard the loving visitors of other patients struggle so hard with gigantic emotions that they would end up unwittingly saying things that felt as wrong to the speaker as they did to the listener. Presence must be practiced. It’s a form of psychological balance.

If it wasn’t such a personal moment between them I almost wish I could have comforted the dying person afterwards. There were ways to do that and help contextualize the visitor’s innocent mistake.

1354 Relax and Succeed - Everybody wants to go to heaven

Hearing those people struggle makes me look forward to the day when –instead of someone calling me for help with a family member’s death– every family will know how to handle it with grace. That will be a victory for the dying as well.

My friend had a great life and a great death. Although I will say, I think he made one mistake in his clarity. He forgot that the people he left behind don’t live with his enlightened perspective, so his lack of a funeral gave everyone no way to close this chapter of our lives with an event.

I presume he didn’t do that because he was concerned it might be a maudlin gathering he would be asking people to participate in, but in that case he underestimated himself. Because through his influence, I feel quite confident that everyone who knew him would have learned enough from him to forgo grieving his loss in favour of celebrating his existence.

Learn from my friend. Don’t be afraid to die. Live fully instead. And work towards profound and non-judgmental self-love. Because in every moment we achieve it, we are winning at life.

RIP Orest. I love you.

peace, s

Spirits, Ghosts and You

Because of the experience I had when I was little, many people ask me about my experiences with life after death, my belief in ghosts and spirits, and whether or not I believe in any kind of God. They are often surprised that my response feels as much scientific as it does spiritual or paranormal.

542 Relax and Succeed - We can think of the soulShelagh Rogers recently did an interview on CBC Radio’s show The Next Chapter, where she talked about a variety of subjects with author Karen Connelly. Among them were questions about the spiritual events surrounding Connelly’s sister’s recent death. In the interview Connelly talked about how, as her sister faded, she began using blunt terms for travel for her situation. It’s important to note that she wasn’t using them as metaphors—she would talk as though she was literally going somewhere with statements like, I’m not allowed to leave, I’m not sure how I’m supposed to leave, or where’s my passport I’m leaving soon. Connelly talked about how her research after the fact demonstrated that those are common terms of reference in palliative care. Moreover, as the patients got even closer to death, they would imagine spirits or angels or guides appearing to make things more helpful. Today’s post will endeavour to explain to you what those spirits are and where they come from.

I’ve previously written about how dreams are when you integrate with the rest of the universe and you loosen of your own personal interpretation of events as being events that happen to a singular you, and instead your reality warbles and you melt back into the universe where your experiences are merely experiences to be had in principle. The fact that you see them as having happened to a You is only because you weave that narrative with your own personal thinking. But that narrative is weaved from the energy of the universe and it plays out in the energy of the universe. So it’s like during the day you’re an icecube floating in water. You’re water, the water’s water, but you’re in different states. But during sleep—and near death—that hard sense of a separate reality starts to get narrow and it’s as though the icecube—recognizing that it truly is just water in another state—begins to melt back into its larger context: the universe.

542 Relax and Succeed - After your deathRather than truly individual brains, our personal human minds are more like a connect-the-dots that moves through the universe. All of the elements of life that we have been taught are then part of our quiver of metaphors that we can draw from. So in essence, when we die we are engaged with the act of melting back into a full realization that we always were made of the water that surrounds us. Our personal minds will naturally convert that experience into a metaphor relevant to our experience of the universe. So if that aspect is You then you will turn it into something that makes sense in your personal experience. So if you’re a physicist it’ll all be about energy, if you’re a neurologist it could be about your brain’s experiential wiring, and if you’re a lay-person it might be about ghosts, spirits or guides. Each group will literally experience the belief it holds. All are true and none are true.

So are ghosts, spirits and guides real? Are we really going somewhere when we die? These things are both real and not-real. It might make it clearer if I explain it this way: to me your daily waking life is just as real/unreal as dreaming or dying is. These performances all take place on the same stage. So to me whether you’re saying you’re alive or there are spirits and some place to go that could be anywhere other than here and now—that’s all irrelevant. It just feels like different terms for the same thing. So yes, there are spirits and ghosts. And you’re being one right now. When that statement doesn’t seem like a paradox, then you’ll fully understand what it is I’m trying to say here. I wish you every good-fortune on this meditation. It’s a good one and it’s really worth engaging in. Don’t forget to have fun. 😉

peace. s

Opening the Gates

263 Relax and Succeed - There are four questions
I can’t help you grow if you won’t take on ideas that currently aren’t a part of your belief system. So if you read my stuff long enough you can fully expect to eventually disagree with me. In fact, those times are probably where your best lessons are. The area people are most sensitive about surrounds religion. When people ask me how I feel about it, I’m neutral. I don’t know how to answer the question. Because what does that word mean? For some it’s charity. For some it’s judgment. For some it’s fear, for others it is love. So I’m pro-love and indifferent to judgment but I have no opinion on religion.

When I look at why my very kind, open-minded friends are sometimes very vigorous in their attacks on religion, it is because they can see other people being oppressed by an idea—by a fear. It’s a natural tribal reaction. It is the defence of one of our own. I’m entirely okay with someone using the word God, but I don’t want them thinking that success in life comes from being judged worthy by any such God. That doesn’t even make sense. If God is all things, then God is also the offending thing. How can God offend God?

Pray, believe in cosmic forces, even use scripture to help you keep in touch with your overall understanding. But don’t be afraid of not getting into some sort of Heaven. It’s not a gated world. It’s a state of mind. Heaven exists for eternity, right? Well eternity is all time, which means it must include now. So if this is a part of eternity, then we should have access to Heaven—and we do. 263 Relax and Succeed - One's destination is never a place

We can have an enjoyable, loving existence filled with people that love us. Or with a little more effort we can create a miserable, angry existence where people avoid us because they don’t want to get caught up in the negativity that has consumed us. That choice is ours. “God” has given us the tools and resources to create a great life. We must now honour that opportunity and use what we discover to advance ourselves towards greater and greater levels of rewarding, loving, generous, fulfillment.

Believe in God if you like. But do not be afraid of Hell. Because living with that fear is Hell itself. The magical worlds that are created by the telling of parables from any ancient text are merely teaching tools that were designed to be studied and examined for personal growth. Yet in some cases they have become hardened into physical locations for no other reason than our own limited comprehension—because of course the human mind is nowhere near powerful enough to be able to comprehend the vastness of God’s (or the universe’s) scale and imagination.

You don’t need to be coaxed or motivated or forced into behaving in caring, cooperative, compassionate ways. That is entirely in your nature. So you don’t need to earn anything, achieve anything or accomplish anything. All you have to do is Be, and you are free to Be pretty much whatever you can imagine.

Hell is not a place to be afraid of. Hell is an idea. Hell is what life becomes when we get far away from Love. So if you ever want to know which way to go in life—and if you always want to go in a Holy way—then I would suggest you follow the feeling of love for as far as it will take you. Because that would most certainly constitute a heavenly journey.

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peace, love and God Bless, s 😉

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations locally and around the world.