Art of Dying Art of Dying_Volume III_joomag - Page 78
SENSEI ROBERT CHODO CAMPBELL
of your hand that they feel you're with them, that
you care. That you care enough to touch them; that
you care enough to look into their eyes and maintain
contact— because that's something most of us don’t
do. I try to do that all the time. To look into their eyes,
their face. Maybe their breath smells and their mouth
is dry or any of the other stuff that can happen when
someone's dying. Maybe they don't look so pretty,
but to me, they're beautiful.
It’s not just the person in the bed who needs attention.
It's the whole family. They're bearing witness to this
life that's fading, and they're going to have their own
feelings and their own heartbreaks and whatever
other emotions come up. How do we work with a 360
degree awareness of what’s happening in the room?
Who's crying? Who's next to the bed? Who's by the
door and doesn't want to come into the room? Who is
out of the room and not present to anything? How do
we look at the whole constellation?
Sometimes I’ll say, "Why don't you come close to
the bed and hold your dad's hand? It'd be really
great for both of you.” They may say, "I don't want
to touch him." Okay. Everyone has their limits, but
often times, people don't realize that it’s okay to
touch the dying person. You can hold them, you can
stroke their hair. It's beautiful. Touching is one of
the most meaningful gifts you can offer the dying.
One of the most important things that I impart to
my students is that death is very ordinary. When we
can see death as ordinary, as a natural occurrence,
then we see the extraordinary. We can't see the
extraordinary until we acknowledge the ordinary.
Through this deep connection, the dying person
and I share a knowing that something sacred,
something otherworldly is occurring, particularly
when the dying person has conversations with
someone who's not in the room.
78 | ART OF DYING