Sometimes a peaceful passage needs permission

I was at the Sages Group of the Center for Spiritual Living in Seattle last week when reminded of a unique, lovely little book I discovered in Sedona about creating more peace and freedom around how we die.

The book is entitled Peaceful Passing: Die When You Choose with Dignity & Ease, by Robert S. Wood.

This is a most helpful book for people who desire to be well prepared for death – and take the matter – as much as that is possible – into their own hands. Wood uses material from Abraham’s work, which is channeled material, and keeps the topic of death “lighter.” He helps you see that when the time comes, you can help yourself gentle release your own life force and gradually “let go” into the next realm.

Wood begins his book like this: “This is the happiest little book you’ll ever read about death because it offers exciting good news. Like enlightened people worldwide, you can learn to take charge of your peaceful, natural dignified death. You can die without drugs or the stigma of suicide or euthanasia. It’s the ultimate solution to life’s universal problem,” and Wood goes on to share that it’s about gaining control over the end of your life.

This takes the “terror” away from dying and restores peace and freedom to the rest of your life as well. Makes sense, no?

This little book, Wood tells us, is the first of its kind to offer “a simple, natural, non-violent, dignified option for the peaceful self-delivery” that channeled beings from the other side suggest for us. He goes on to say that this is an ancient practice that’s been long forgotten by societies. It’s the “path of passing” that’s decided primarily by the individual; it’s for people who believe that we have the “absolute right to decide how and when we die.”

I particularly like the letter that Wood composed for his friend Tom who was in the process of dying in a hospital. He knew the man and his wife as dear personal friends, and he saw how the two of them were struggling around Tom’s final transition. He offered to Tom’s wife Mary that he could write a letter to encourage Tom to “let go,” if and when he personally felt the time was right. He begins this letter on p. 27 with these words:

Dear Tom,

From what Mary tells me, you’re lying around in bed loafing. We miss you out here on the trail. It would be great to have you back hiking with us again. …

            But if you’re just too darn tired and it’s not worth the struggle, it’s okay to just kick back   and let go.

Wood goes on to share personal things with Tom, reminding him that he’s “got nothing left to prove.” And if there’s not much left to look forward to any longer, and it’s getting to be too much trouble to “hang on, why not take a rest?” he quips. “It’s okay to say ‘enough’!”

In essence, it’s time to give yourself permission to let go and enjoy the huge “relief at the end of the trail. You’ve earned it,” he suggests, as a great friend would, to Tom. “Just go to sleep” and decide “to wake up in heaven.” Wood ends this letter of encouragement with this closing:

We’ll look forward, dear friend, to seeing you again — on this side or the other — here or hereafter.

            So be good to yourself and do what deep down feels best.

            Happy trails, Your buddy, Bob (p. 28)

Two days after Wood wrote this letter to Tom, his wife called to let him know that Tom had died, peacefully, in his sleep.

Sometimes we humans just need to know that our loved ones will be “okay” with our big decisions in life. And it helps when we can hear from them their perspective on what we are dealing with. This comes up again and again around the topic of dying.

If you are the kind of person who believes in his or her “right to decide how and when we die,” I suggest you take a look at Robert Wood’s book.

Although Wood makes it sound very easy, perhaps we sometimes make death more complicated than it needs to be?

He shares that his book can show you how to die consciously and deliberately, when you desire to, rather than unconsciously or when you feel that you have to.

Wood’s conclusion is: “Just go to sleep intending to wake up on the other side. If you desire or need is great enough, you can make the transition at a moment’s notice. No advance preparation in necessary – although it helps.”

Have we piqued your curiosity? If so I invite you to check out: Peaceful Passing. It’s a book like no other out there – at least at this time.

Maria will facilitate another one of her classes – on transitions and the essential oils – today, at 5:30 PM at the Brilliant Moon. For details, call: 868-2190.

The Last Adventure of Life (Australian Edition)

The Last Adventure of Life (Australian Edition)

 


From Compost to Compost? Katrina Spade could be racially changing after-death landscape around the world

Did you know that right here, in the Great Northwest, we have a young woman who could be radically shifting how we do after death care around the entire world? Her name is Katrina Spade; and she is a builder and designer who has a remarkable vision: A case for “sustainably” composting your dead body!

I learned about Katrina while attending an informal workshop in Quilcene on Green Burials. I learned a great deal about some new trends that are emerging around after death care in America. The most radical and profound Project I learned about is the Urban Death Project that Katrina is spearheading – right here in our own backyard! Katrina was able to raise upwards of $94,000 on the crowdfunding site Kickstarter.

Here are some statistics sited in an article on the Urban Death Project in CBC News:

Each year, in the U.S. alone, more than a million dead bodies are buried along with:

++ Enough metal to build San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge

++ Enough wood to build 1800 single-family homes

++ Enough carcinogenic embalming fluid to fill eight Olympic-sized swimming pools.

Spade noted that over half of the world’s population live in cities. City cemeteries are rapidly filling up to capacity; and currently, green burials are not available for most city dwellers.

Meanwhile, the most popular alternative to burial, cremation, emits as much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year as 70,000 cars driving the same length of time!

So, says Spade, her idea is a “practical one.” (For more, see this link.)

I had some questions that I wanted to ask Spade herself, but she is so busy that she referred me to some articles about her and her Project. I decided to share some questions and answers that she gave the Imprint Culture Lab in an interview on October 6, 2014. You may see the entire article here.

As a kid, what did you aspire to be?
As a kid, I thought I’d probably become a doctor, since so many of my family members are in medicine. We had plenty of conversations about death and dying at the dinner table. I guess it makes sense that I am doing this work, but from a design perspective. I love this work, but it definitely never occurred to me that I’d be doing this when I was young.

Describe how you “concepted” Urban Death Project to solve a significant problem in burial sustainability.
I was in graduate school for architecture, and I’d been thinking a lot about how decomposition is generally feared and avoided in our culture. Without decomposition – where microbes break organic materials down into soil – we humans would be toast. It’s an amazing process – turning dead stuff into soil – and I began to think about how it might intersect with architecture. At the same time, being thirty-something, it suddenly dawned on me that I was actually going to die someday. I began researching the options we have for the disposal of our physical bodies, and I found that both conventional burial and cremation are wasteful and polluting processes. So I set out to design a new method, using the process of composting as a basis for the design.

Where do you personally find inspiration?
I am excited about the work being done in my community right now around prison abolition and the dismantling of immigrant detention centers. Talk about an amazing design challenge – envisioning a world without prisons or borders!

Permaculture and whole systems design are also passions of mine. Beautiful design – the kind that is elegant in its simplicity and completely accessible – inspires me.

Where do you hope to take Urban Death Project in the long run, after the successful prototype?
Right now, we are working on the design and engineering of the system that will compost bodies, and we plan to build a prototype in the next few years. At the same time, we are creating a franchise kit to help others – municipalities, individuals, and organizations – build Urban Death Projects in their neighborhoods in cities all over the world. We’ll provide the specifications of the system itself as well as a framework for ritual and the programming requirements for each building, and different architects will design each Urban Death Project. That part is very important – each project should be specifically designed for the community which it serves.  I liken it to a library branch – each is unique to its neighborhood but you know what to expect when you enter one.

Katrina did answer one of my questions personally. The question: How can people get involved in your Project if they so desire? What is your most urgent “Message” to the world today?

Right now, the three best ways to get involved are:

1) Sign up for our monthly newsletter here.

2) Donate funds at whatever level is doable/meaningful to you.

3) Tell your networks about the idea, and talk with your friends and family about your wishes around death.

Here’s a little more about Spade’s background and credentials:

Spade has focused her career on creating human-centered, ecological, architectural solutions. Prior to architecture, she studied sustainable design and building at Yestermorrow Design Build School, with a focus on regenerative communities and permaculture. While earning her Masters of Architecture at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, she received a grant from the Massachusetts Department of Agriculture to build and monitor a compost heating system, a project which helped inspire the Urban Death Project. Katrina earned a BA in Anthropology from Haverford College and a Masters of Architecture from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She is an Echoing Green Climate Fellow.

Welcome to the Changing World around death and after death care!

Maria will be facilitating another one of her classes – on transitions and the essential oils – on April 14 at 5:30 PM at the Brilliant Moon. For details and to register, call: 360-868-2190.

 

 


One conversation with loved one can make a huge difference

One of the most important things we can do around preparing for “the last adventure of life” is to have those important conversations with our loved ones – letting them know what our hopes and desires are around the end of our lives. All too often, people end up saving these conversations for a “rainy day,” and then end up not having them until it’s too late.

Here are some facts:

** Sixty percent of people say that making sure their family is not burdened by tough decisions is “extremely important.” However, 56% have not communicated their end-of-life wishes to another person.

** Seventy percent of people say they prefer to die at home. However, 70% die in a hospital, nursing home, or long-term-care facility. And sometimes, these deaths are much more traumatic than necessary.

I just heard about a very unfortunate situation that unfolded like this at a hospital in Tucson, AZ, even after a gentleman had his advance directives written down ahead of time. This is why, when your loved one is in a hospital or facility for any length of time, it’s extremely important that the family, physician, and staff of the facility make a point to go over the end-of-life wishes of the individual again to clarify and update, according to the situation.

** Eighty percent of people say that if they become seriously ill, they would like to speak with their physician about end-of-life care. However, only 7% report having that conversation.

** Eighty-two percent of people say that it’s important to put their wishes in writing. However, only 23% have actually put their wishes in writing.

Since those initial conversations with parents, children, siblings, and significant others are so important to have, and to be continued and updated over time, here are some ideas on how to “break the ice” with them.

1) I need your help with something.

2) Will you help me think about our future together?

3) I just answered some questions about how I’d like the end of my life to be. I’d like you to see my answers. I’m also wondering what your answers might be.

4) Do you have any particular concerns about your health? And what about the last years of your life? Have you thought about your wishes in this regard?

5) Who would you like – or not like – to support and believe in your care? Is there someone you’d like to make decisions on your behalf, if an when you’re not able to yourself? Who would you like to be your “health care proxy”?

6) Would you rather be actively involved in decisions about your end-of-life care, if possible?

7) Mom/Dad, have you ever thought about what you would do when you get ill and can no longer take care of yourself?

8) I just made some funeral plans/arrangements for myself. Have you thought about what you’d like in this regard – for yourself?

Much of the above facts and questions come from an organization called The Conversation Project of Boulder County in Colorado. They are modeled on a Project with the same name that was started in the Boston area by Ellen Goodman – who could speak with her mother about anything, but the end-of-life.

Ellen wished that she and her mother had been able to “start the conversation” around the specifics of her mother’s death much sooner than they did; and this is how she came to start The Conversation Project. You can see more about this Project at: http://www.theconversationproject.org/.

Another organization that works with similar end-of-life ideas and questions is The Five Wishes. I will write more about this organization in a forthcoming article.

 

 


Spiritual guide may help the dying take their next step

As the time of your or your loved one’s death nears, it may be helpful to keep a picture of your beloved spiritual teacher or guide nearby. I sometimes recommend to people who are virtually bedridden that they might place a picture of Jesus, Mother Mary, Buddha, or their favorite spiritual guide on the wall by the end of their bed. This way, whenever their eyes are open, they will see and be reminded of their beloved one, to whom they may well be returning.

I had an interesting experience with a gentleman who was on our hospice over a lengthy period. I actually got to know Jerry’s dear wife much better than I did Jerry, because she was very open and curious about spiritual matters. I sensed she wanted to learn and grow through her husband’s experience. About a week before Jerry died, she told me he had asked her for a picture of Jesus to place at the foot of his bed. She had found a lovely, rather unusual, framed picture of Jesus that they had in their possession. She believed it gave Jerry much comfort to see Jesus at the end of his bed as he prepared to enter the spiritual realm.

In another situation, I recall meeting the wife of a gentleman I came to know on hospice. The gentleman was in a room in an adult family home and could no longer speak. However, I got to meet his wife one day and she told me about the beautiful picture that was hanging on the wall at the foot of his bed. It turned out that his wife had wanted to find something to place there that would remind him of where he was going. She searched in religious bookstores, but found nothing. Then, when she was in a Michaels craft store, she found a beautiful poster of the Earth Angel, by Josephine Wall, a British artist. She decided it was exactly what she was looking for and posted it at the foot of her husband’s bed.

I was so taken by Josephine’s “Earth Angel” and its beauty that I went out and found a copy of it at a Michael’s myself and mounted it on a strong, wooden purple frame. It became my muse for this work. Eventually, I was able to get permission from Josephine’s agent, and Earth Angel is now on the cover of my second book, The Most Important Day of Your Life: Are You Ready? It is a reminder to me of the peace and harmony that is coming to planet earth, especially as we do our “work” around death, grief, and the mystery of life – releasing the fear that still remains, of the unknown.

Chanting and repeating the name of a spiritual leader or guide is also said to be a powerful way to die. The person who is dying can do this, if he or she is conscious and desires to do so. Otherwise, in planning ahead, a loved one who is with the person as death nears might practice this on the loved one’s behalf. Anya Foos-Graber, author of Deathing: An Intelligent Alternative for the Final Moments of Life, writes about this technique in Chapter 23 of Experiencing the Soul. She says that invoking the name of a spiritual being or master, one who is “one with God,” is a meaningful way to approach death.

In response to the question, “Why is the moment of death so important for the progress of the soul?” Foos-Graber responds: “Many spiritual traditions teach that whatever one focuses on at this moment casts the ‘flavor’ atmosphere of what occurs after physical death. The way we die…has a profound corresponding effect for our state in the afterlife.”

She goes on to share that just as first impressions are important when we meet someone for the first time, so are our last impressions. We can leave a good “mark” on the “cosmic memory banks of the Universal Mind” when we focus on God/dess through a divine being who is powerfully connected to All That Is.

 


5 tips for talking to a grieving loved one or friend

This week I’d like to share an article I received through a new online friend named Angela Tollersons. She came to my website, www.changewithcourage.com, and expressed an interest in writing an article on grief for me. I liked what she wrote and decided to share it with you here.

Whether it’s a family member or friend, talking about the loss of a loved one is never easy. But talking about death is an important part of the grieving process and can make the person experiencing the loss feel a bit less alone.

Use these tips to stay mindful of how you’re communicating with your friend or family member during this sensitive time.

  1. Choose Your Words Carefully

Avoid talking about religion or the afterlife, comparing their loss to yours, or invalidating their pain. Realize that nothing you can say will relieve your loved one of all the pain they’re feeling, so don’t go into a conversation expecting to “fix” them. Instead, make sure your conversation is inspired by genuine sympathy and support.

  1. Practice Patience

Since one symptom of grief is feeling detached from other people, it’s possible your friend or family member won’t want to talk about his loss at all.

When this happens, practice patience. Don’t push him to express his feelings; let him come to you on his own terms. Forcing him to talk about the situation before he feels ready won’t be beneficial for the healing process.

Refrain from passing judgment on your loved one’s behavior. Endless crying, lashing out, and feelings of guilt are natural parts of the grieving process. Be understanding of these behaviors and continue to provide your unwavering support.

  1. Listen

It’s not easy for your loved one to open up and talk about her loss, so make it easier on her by being a great listener. Listen silently and without judgment.

Giving your full attention to your loved one is just another way of saying “I care about you.”

In this way, sometimes the best thing you can say is nothing at all.

  1. Offer Your Assistance

Make it clear that you’re available to talk whenever he’s ready.

When you’re dealing with someone who prefers not to talk about the death of a loved one, the best way for you to show your love and support is by helping out with meals and errands for a while.

Tell them you’ll pick them up some dinner or that you’d like to go pick up the groceries. Offer to help out with house chores or child care.

Even if your loved one isn’t receptive to your verbal support right now, small acts of love and kindness like these will help send the message.

  1. Don’t Let Distance Stand in Your Way

If your loved one is miles away, the lines of communication can still be open with video chatting, phone calls, and email.

The responsibility of making the first move will likely fall on you, so be persistent but not pushy.

Ask if they’d be interested in a family conference call where a few of you can check in and catch up. Even if it’s a brief 10-minute exchange, they’ll appreciate your concern as long as you also respect their space.

No matter how you communicate–through words or through your actions–know that your intentions are all that matter.

It may feel difficult to find the right words to help make this time more bearable for your loved one. But if you’re reaching out with compassion and support, your loved one will know that you’re doing your best to help them through this difficult time.

Angela Tollersons has a passion for family health and wellness. She currently volunteers as often as possible in her community with parenting and child advocacy groups, especially those who focus on special education and anti-bullying.

When she is not updating her blog, she is usually exploring the great outdoors or playing a game of Scrabble with her family.


Remembering and activating the power of prayer

I was visiting a woman on our hospice at an adult family home one day. One of the women living in the home asked me if I was the “prayer giver.” I was pleasantly surprised by what I thought she’d said. After double-checking that I had heard her correctly, I responded that yes, indeed, I was the prayer giver.

Reflecting on what this stranger asked me left me pondering my role of spiritual counselor. Perhaps the most important thing I do with the people I visit is to remind them of their own spiritual power. I help them to connect or reconnect to Spirit.

At the end of almost every visit, I ask the person or people I’ve been speaking with if they’d like to close with a prayer. The response is almost always positive. Once in a while, a person will tell me that they’d rather not pray with me, usually because they feel it’s a very private matter. However, rarely have my hospice families turned me down when I offer to keep them in my prayers.

Prayer is our finest and most direct way to be in touch with the Divine. I highly recommend that you make this connection regularly. It is such a simple thing to do, too: Just open your heart and share your thoughts and feelings with the Divine, however you are comfortable doing so. Then, I encourage you to keep your heart open, and listen and pay attention to what the Divine might have to share with you.

Growing up as a missionary kid, I learned to pray as a wee little one. And I always sensed that there was a kind of special power in prayer. However, it wasn’t until I started doing hospice work and began to learn about the metaphysical that I began to discover the Laws of the Universe. It turns out that it is one of the Laws of the Universe that spirit cannot intercede in our lives without our permission. So, if you do not ask for the help of the spiritual realm, their hands are tied. They cannot help you unless they receive your permission. Or I suppose that permission can come from someone else? A friend or family member, for example.

If you would like an anonymous person to call and pray with you, I invite you to call Silent Unity at (816) 969-2000, or (800) NOW-PRAY (669-7729). They are connected to the Unity Church headquarters in Unity Village, Missouri, where they have a 24-hour hotline that anyone can call any time.

After a gentle soul prays with you over the phone, Unity also keeps praying with you for the next 30 days. I have used them on occasion, when I needed someone to join me in prayer about something close to my heart. I have never been disappointed. If you are not comfortable calling them, please contact a local church, synagogue, mosque, temple, shrine, or religious organization that you do feel comfortable calling. Or feel free to contact me about your prayer concerns! I’m happy to pray with or for someone, always. It is good that you are connected to others when you pray, and your prayers will be more powerful, too.

I will be offering her classes at Brilliant Moon again in March (Joyful Transitions) and April (Essential Oils and Transitions). Please call Brilliant Moon to register: 868-2190. I also do some powerful Auric Clearings as part of her energy work repertoire. Contact me for more information on this “Clearing out the Old” work. It will help you Welcome in the New in your life!

 


Some Practical aspects to plan for the end of life

Some of you more practical individuals have no doubt been desiring to read about the more practical side of the end of life scenario. I’ve done a little bit of research into this aspect of preparing for the final transition, and here’s what I’ve come up with.

First, a lovely quote from Respecting Choices that reminds us that planning for the end of life needs to be an ongoing process that is fluid and flexible – always open to the changes and vicissitudes of life:

One of the greatest misconceptions about advanced care planning is that it is a static process, a one-time event. Attempting to plan for all possibilities in a single document or at a single point in time is both impossible and unnecessary.

Every state has its own end-of-life related laws and regulations. A wonderful resource that we have here in Washington state is End of Life Washington. This is a website and an office in Seattle – formerly Compassion & Choices of Washington – which guides people in planning for the final days of their lives. They can be reached at: 877.222.2816 or 206.256.1636.

End of Life Washington provides free end-of-life counseling and client support services statewide to “qualified patients” desiring a “peaceful death.”

Staff members encourage advance planning and set a new standard in Washington state for advance planning documents with their End of Life Washington Advance Directive, one of the best advance directives available in the United States.

They promote the use of Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST form, a medical form for emergencies) for those living with serious illnesses. They provide these and many other documents at no cost.

They created and played a key role in leading the coalition that passed Initiative 1000 (the Washington Death with Dignity Act) into law in November, 2008 with nearly 60 percent of the popular vote. They now steward, protect, and uphold this law. For details, see this link.

They advocate for better pain management, patient-directed end-of-life care, and expanded choice for the terminally ill. They do not suggest, encourage, or promote suicide or euthanasia.

And there is never a fee for their services.     

I discovered through the Senior Center in Shelton that Julie Cook is an attorney in town who specializes in end-of-life related issues, including wills and estate plans. She comes to the Senior Center at least a few times a year to offer a free hour-long talk for members. She’ll be coming again in March or April, so contact the Shelton Senior Center (360-426-7374) if you have an interest in this.

The Advance Directive is basically an expression of your wishes around life support issues. There are Health Care directives that you can work on to plan ahead related specifically to your health care needs; there is also a Physician’s (Final) Directive – the “unplug me papers” – that you can work on with your physician. You may want to consider appointing a Health Care Power of Attorney as well a Financial Power of Attorney for your end of life time when you may not be able to make your own decisions. By appointing a Financial Power of Attorney, it’s sometimes possible to avoid a guardianship, which can be quite costly.

And then there are other organizations that help people begin the end of life care conversations, such as the Five Wishes – “changing the way we talk about and plan for care at the end of life” and the Conversation Project – “dedicated to helping people talk about end-of-life care.”

Finally, I wanted to mention – for those who have connections in Seattle – that a friend in Seattle was able to receive help with a will and a Health Care Directive through an attorney who she found at the Seattle Senior Services at 206.448.5720. For Seattle residents, a packet of information, including a worksheet which assists in gathering the information needed for the documents, can be requested and received. At the one-hour FREE appointment with the attorney, the following two documents were produced: A last will and testament and a durable power of attorney for health care and health care directive.

Blessings of courage and love to all as we take practical steps to face the end of life, and especially as we take the steps to have those important and necessary conversations with family and loved ones.

 


The Magical Essence of Frankincense, One of the most powerful essential oils

The essential oils can be such powerful catalysts for change and comfort at the end of life, and any time in our lives, really. This story tells of one of the most powerful experiences I had one day while doing my “routine” hospice work.

Douglas, my hospice patient, had been struggling to breathe all night long. In fact, breathing had become the major issue in his life during the last week. He was now wearing an oxygen mask. His daughter Marcia was on one side of his hospital bed, his granddaughter Jenn on the other. They had just tucked him back into bed after a sleepless night on the Hospice Unit.

Later I found out they’d both been giving him permission to let go all night long, for they knew that he was suffering too much.

It was a Monday morning, and I had just listened to my voice mails. One of our palliative care specialist nurses had left me a message saying that Douglas wanted me to come and anoint him with the essential oils as I had done for him last week. As I drove toward the Hospice house on the east side of Puget Sound, I had no idea that I was about to witness one of the most profound experiences I’ve ever had with the essential oils as a spiritual counselor.

Having revamped my schedule for the day, I entered Douglas’s room with my essential oils and a favorite CD of East/West Chants in hand. I felt some power beyond my own guiding me.

Upon entering Douglas’s room, I knew what needed to be done. First, I anointed him with some oils.

Marcia and Jenn made room for me to bless their father and grandfather with the oils. I got out Myrtle, the Believe Blend, and Frankincense. I lifted the oxygen mask and placed some of the Believe Blend around Douglas’s nose. After anointing the area around lungs with the Believe oil, too, I rubbed some Myrtle on his right ribcage and some on his feet. Then I anointed his forehead with Frankincense, my favorite oil. Frankincense, meaning “real incense,” I’ve discovered is also considered the favorite incense of the spirit realm.

The oils almost immediately had an effect. Douglas’s breathing slowed and his whole body began to relax. Next, I went over to the CD player and got the beautiful chants by Cynthia Snodgrass filling the room with their special harmony (Ubi caritas et amor — “Where charity and love are, God is there”). Douglas’s oxygen mask had been removed, and it was Marcia who noticed that Douglas had opened his eyes to look straight up, above his bed.

“He’s going, he’s going!” she exclaimed.

“Well, maybe,” I thought to myself, as one never really knows when and how the dying process will happen, not unlike a birth.

I also found myself praying hard at this point. I recall offering a prayer out loud, too, around Douglas’s bed with his two beloved ones. Before long, Douglas’s breathing had slowed down even more, and it became clear that he was in the final stages of letting go. The three of us witnessing this turn of events were so amazed, it did not even occur to us to leave the room. Within 20 minutes of my entering his room and administering the oils, Douglas had taken his last breath.

After a few minutes of experiencing this sacred time together, one of us finally left the room to go find a nurse. Two hospice staff came into Douglas’s room to help us begin to digest what had just happened. After confirming that Douglas had died, they checked his limbs, noting that there had been none of the mottling that usually happens before a person dies.

In hindsight, I believe Douglas realized that the relaxation offered him by the essential oils gave him an opportunity to let go and make his way over to the next realm. This meant that he could forego the usual process of the body’s slowing down gradually.

Needless to say, this experience with essential oils opened me up to the subtle yet tremendous power that they can have in the end-of-life and dying process. On some level, I have known that the oils possess this kind of magic, since I’ve heard about how they were used in ancient times around death and burial. And Frankincense was what the Three Wise Men brought to Jesus as a gift for him at the time of his birth.

However, one doesn’t have to be dying or experiencing a transition to enjoy the benefits of these oils. I use them on a regular basis, to lift my mood and raise my vibration and mood.

Frankincense is known for its anti-depressant quality and for its ability to connect a person with the spiritual realm; it is also a wonderful tonic for the skin and has anti-tumoral qualities, as well.

I heard about a mother who had a son with a brain tumor. She kept her son’s head wet with Frankincense. Over time, the son was healed by the power of this powerful healing oil that was once considered more valuable than gold. Frankincense has also been known to work its magic with people suffering from Alzheimer’s.

If ever you happen to be with an obstinate person who suffers from Alzheimer’s, simply apply some of this wonderful oil to your own hands and then run your hands through their aura – energy field – in some way. This process will very soon have a calming effect on the headstrong individual.

If you are interested in learning more about the essential oils and transitions, Maria will be leading a class on this on Thursday, April 14 at the Brilliant Moon. Please call them to register: (360) 868-2190.

 


Sometimes suicide happens – what do you do during this difficult time?

This week, someone in my circle of life committed suicide. She was someone who had moved to our community last fall, alone. She was a fragile, young woman.

Nevertheless, it came as a tremendous shock to all concerned, especially because her life was turning around, seemingly in a positive way. Everyone involved was mystified and wondering what in heaven’s name had caused this to happen – particularly at this time.

It seems like a lot of our psychic energy has been spent on trying to understand what exactly happened to cause this tragedy. This is something that happens after most suicides take place. We wonder and reflect on what exactly could have happened, and how this sad event could have been avoided. One life has been sadly, “snuffed out,” it seems unnecessarily!

I wrote some words in my first book, The Last Adventure of Life, about Unresolved Deaths including Suicide. I will share what I wrote here, because I believe it holds true:

Sometimes, things cannot be resolved in this lifetime, and people die under very challenging circumstances. At times, families and loved ones have to deal with suicidal deaths. Such moments are some of the most difficult ot live with afterward. Author and medium James Van Praagh suggests in his book, Talking to Heaven: A Medium’s Message of Life after Death (1997) that our thoughts and prayers are the best way to get through to such spirits.

First of all, we can send thoughts to those who have committed suicide to remind them to “stop wasting their energy by trying to get back into the physical world. They must realize that they have passed out of the physical body.” (p. 103) Our thoughts are the only way we can communicate with those who have left the earth, and apparently in some cases of suicide, as sometimes in other sudden deaths, the victim does not realize that they have actually died and left their physical vehicle behind. Secondly, we can send them thoughts of love, peace, joy, forgiveness, and light. We can help to bring comfort to their spirits and allow them to become more aware of their new situation.

I have learned that visualizing the violet flame encompassing all things purifies them. You might imagine sending or placing the purifying violet flame around the soul of your loved one. (If you are not familiar with the Violet Flame, you can find out more here.) Or you could visualize any negativity, either your own or your loved one’s, in the violet flame, allowing the negativity to purify and dissolve into pure white light. You could also envision taking your loved one to a beautiful place, like a magnificent garden, or beautiful healing waters where they can bathe, or someplace where you know they will find peace and comfort. You can then imagine them in this peaceful spot whenever you think of them, knowing and trusting that they, too, can and will find deep peace over time.

Most of all, it is important that the surviving loved ones do not blame themselves for what happened, or keep pondering the ‘what if” scenarios, or second-guessing why the death occurred in the way that it did. Even though guilt is almost unavoidable after a suicide, it is a crippling emotion, and it robs people of their confidence. So by all means, find creative ways to release any guilt you might be carrying around because of the suicide of a loved one. What has happened cannot be changed, and it is not your fault. (They had their own life and they chose to do what they chose to do – it was part of their free will) Let go of the past, and move forward into the future with abiding confidence and love. This is what your loved one would want for you, too.

I hope that these words may help you, as you ponder things unresolved in your life as well. As the all-encompassing   Melchizedek Prayer reads, “May there be Love, Truth, Beauty, Trust, Harmony and Peace for all living things everywhere! 

And if you desire some support in this area, please feel free to contact me, to talk, do energy work for release, etc.  

                                                                                                                          


Reflections from a man acquainted with grief

Recently, I made a lovely connection through LinkedIn with a unique man named Dave Roberts, who is an educator at several Upstate NY colleges. He also specializes as a writer and counselor for the beareaved and those who suffer with addiction. I had the chance to interview him, and this is what he had to share.

1) What brought you into the arena of Grief Work?

The death of my 18-year-old daughter Jeannine in March of 2003 due to cancer, was the catalyst for my interest and passion for grief work. As a result of the challenges presented by her death, it was necessary to find meaning in a world that was and will be forever different, through service to individuals and families who have experienced catastrophic loss. It was necessary for me to embrace this perspective because I believe that we have two choices when we experience life altering loss: 1) to wallow permanently in the muck of despair, without transforming our grief, or 2) to wallow through the muck of despair, allowing it to lead us to find joy and meaning again.

2) How would distinguish yourself from other teachers and writers of grief?

That is a great question. I think one of the things that distinguishes me is that my writing is a product of my ongoing evolution or transformation from loss. So where I am at that particular moment comes out in my writing. Included in this are all of the connections and synchronicities that have allowed me to develop greater awareness of myself and my relationship to the world around me. It is a very transparent and empowering process for me to share a path that has allowed me to embrace a peaceful perspective after loss.

Another thing that I believe distinguishes me from other teachers and writers of grief is how I choose to view my experience. For example, many parents in my circumstances refer to themselves permanently as bereaved parents. I did see myself early on as a bereaved parent, but now I simply refer to myself as a parent who has experienced the death of a child. I also celebrate the fact that I am a husband, a father to two terrific sons, a college professor and a writer. The death of my daughter Jeannine has redefined my life experience, but it is not the totality of my life experience.

3) What brings you the most Joy around the work you do? 

I believe that the experience of death and its aftermath are among the most intimate of events that we experience in the human existence. I feel honored and inspired when I have the opportunity to witness the stories of individuals who have experienced loss. It is not only the stories about their friends or family who have died, it is about what they have discovered as a result of their challenges with death. Their stories and paths are to be honored.

4) What brings you the most anguish or sadness around the work you do?

The person that sees no hope, no light at the end of the tunnel after loss, and is permanently stuck in his or her pain. This perhaps is because the person has no coping skills that promote resiliency or that the expression of intense emotional pain is reinforced by others around them, unwittingly or otherwise without encouragement to transform it.

5) What teachings do you wish to leave with our readers ?

Support from others who have experienced and understand your pain is crucial to working through your grief. Shared pain is a gateway to hope.

Every emotion that we experience, both positive and negative, is a crucial piece in the mosaic that comprises the path we walk after the death of our loved ones. We can learn from everything.

Don’t be so focused on living in the present moment, that you ignore the teachings of your past.

Our grief journeys are marathons, not sprints. Be gentle with yourself.

Be Tiggers in the aftermath of loss. Tigger was my daughter Jeannine’s favorite Disney character because he bounced and was the only one. Bounce along your path to transformation anyway that works for you and respect others’ right to do the same. As long as you are not hurting yourself or others, it is all good.

Commit to walking in awareness of signs from our loved ones and understand that our relationships with our loved ones can continue after the physical body dies.

Thank you, Dave, for your words of wisdom here. Dave RobertsYou can see more on Dave Roberts and his writings here. He also writes for the Huffington Post.

Maria will be leading a “feel-good,” aromatherapy class called Joyful Transitions and the Essential Oils this evening at the Brilliant Moon. Please call them to register here: (360) 868-2190.