Art of Dying Volume One | Page 46

Observations ELLEN FEIN Death doesn’t generalize. Every death experience is different. I identified myself as a cultural Jew, but I never believed in God or anything religious. But when Michael was sick, something awakened within me. I felt a sureness that things would work out the way they were supposed to. I had this very strong image that I was going to lean back into the clouds of the universe and they were going to catch me. And I was going to be held. Where did that image come from? I have no idea. People offered unexpected support. Some were beloved friends, but many were people we didn’t know. People just showed up and knew the right things to do. My new appreciation of community and my awakened spirituality changed me forever. 46 | ART OF DYING “ After an eight month journey with cancer, the death of my husband Michael at forty-nine along with my own experience with leukemia inspired my deep relationship with death and dying. Death wasn’t active in my awareness before these two events. Michael clearly considered his cancer diagnosis as an assignment, a job; and his job was to live well. It became easy to choose what mattered; to give up the garbage, both between us and in our relationships with others. All the irritating patterns of behavior in our relationship were gone, just gone. When he went into hospice, Michael shared his heartbreak about not watching our daughter grow up. There wasn’t much conversation about where he was going or what was next for him. I felt very strongly that I was helping him to leave, that I was his guide.