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. SEAN KERNAN 78 | ART OF DYING