"I created a colorful abstract for the pure joy of it."
by, Jan Steinle, Certified Zentangle Teacher
Special Guest: Leslie Cottrell Simonds
~Author, Caregiver, Creator of The Visionary Passage~
~The Visionary Passage~
I always find it interesting to hear people say they were shaped by the experiences they found themselves in as either children, or young adults. Could it not be the reverse? Perhaps we become immersed in certain circumstances solely to help us remain on a path that was ours to travel. Like the gutter lanes we set up to help our little one feel successful as a new bowler, becoming comfortable with experiences that are a bit out of the norm for others can nudge us forward to be different people than we may have been otherwise. Different people, only because we are journeying our divine paths.
After finding myself in the presence of several people as they prepared to transition from this life, I began to wonder just why it was that I experienced this event multiple times. What was most interesting to me was that I found the experience of holding space for someone actively dying as an honor. It was beautiful, peaceful and transcendent. It was such a pure feeling that I had no idea others did not feel the same!
After hearing some recollections of fear, uneasiness and even disgust, I began to embrace the idea that I felt the way I did because it is my journey to see beauty in the tender last moments, to see strength in the peaceful transition, and to see the face of God in the “in between.”
After being present for the last five days of my Father’s life I began to really understand the need for end of life support. The dying need the support of someone who can set their grief aside and immerse themselves in the journey unfolding before them. This is the key to holding space for the loved one who is nearing their last earthly breaths. It is the simplest of concepts and perhaps the most challenging of all tasks.
How does one being to prepare for an end of life vigil? The question itself opens a flurry of emotions. I had a friend who refused to talk about what was ahead for her Mother. She had a head knowledge that her Mother’s last days were approaching, but wouldn’t talk about preparing to support her Mother at her end of life because she felt it was a disloyalty.
I received a frantic and tearful call from her one mid morning after being met outside her Mother’s Nursing Home door by her Mother’s Primary Care Physician. He attempted to tell her that her Mother had entered the stage of active dying and would probably be alive no longer than two or three more days. Suddenly struck with the realizations that could no longer be avoided, she was desperate to gain enough knowledge to really be there for her Mom.
I did what I could to support her from the lengthy distance between us. Several weeks after her Mother’s funeral, she admitted to me that she felt like a Mother giving birth with no labor classes. She never felt like she could “catch up” to what was unfolding before her eyes. Another call some months later ended with these words, “If you ever want a testimonial for why we need to prepare for death vigils, just have people call me.”
One thing we can do to support our loved ones is to ask them well in advance about their end of life choices. I speak about this in great length in my book, “I Want You to Know.” This book is a straight from the heart guide to walk you through all the necessary information for expressing your wishes, or documenting the wishes of a family member for all of life’s eventualities.
I always invite families to talk early and talk often about their wishes. It’s never an easy subject, but the benefits of having the answers will serve you well in fragile times ahead.
Just remember that the most important thing you can do during an end of life vigil is just be there. Be present, be aware and be an open conduit to support your loved one’s journey. Much of caregiving is about action. Holding vigil is less about doing and much more about being.
Quiet music that was their favorite in their younger years, soft lighting, subtle aromas of essential oils, reading passages from Scripture or their favorite book, a light massage, a cool cloth to the lips; these are all simple acts that set the tone for peaceful energy in the vigil space. Just remember to be aware of intuitive nudges. I clearly felt led to change the music in my Dad’s room from Hymns, to string music and finally felt clearly that it was no longer the time for any music. Allow your loved one the freedom to choose their moment of passing. Many times, they will wait from someone to leave the room because they want to spare them. Sometimes a person clearly is waiting to see a loved one for the last time. Much of these last days is just about going with the flow.
Allow yourself to drift in the river of the passage. Don’t fight the current for your sake, or for your loved one’s sake. This is as precious as birth and as unpredictable. It will unfold, just as it is meant to be.
For more information visit TheVisionaryPassage.com
Amazon: “I Want You to Know” at: http://amzn.to/2g0ygez
Thank you for being my guest today Leslie and for sharing from the heart. You've made a lasting impression. Thank you for creating your book!
Sending best wishes for the week ahead. Thank you to Leslie for sharing from her heart, advising us on one of the most important, precious moments in our life - the end of life decisions. Embrace them. That's the heartbeat that keeps us going, loving the ones we care most about.
All in the name of love,
Copyright March 2017