Art of Dying Volume One - Page 67

I find it so illuminating to sit with people who are dying and to listen to their stories . They are viewing life from the perspective of its end and sharing insights about what really matters to them from that vantage point . I realize that it is a perspective most of us aren ' t aware of . We don ' t consider that when we ' re taking our last breath , we may look at life totally differently from how we ' re seeing life now . It is also powerful to observe the spiritual transformations that take place at the end of life . So many people open up spiritually in ways that they have never done before .
Whenever I am asked to see a patient , I know I am supposed to be there . It is never just a job . I always feel that I am a student , on a mission ; and I am being sent to learn something from the patients I visit . But I also have something to give them . We share in this learning .
A hospice patient lives with the truth , ' I am now dying ’ and ' I have a limited time on this planet .’ I now remind myself that ‘ today could be my last day ; I may not have more time than this .’ This truth helps me focus on what really matters instead of getting caught up with trivial distractions . Every day I make sure that I am practicing unconditional love and forgiveness ; and that I am living in the present moment . Sustaining awareness that life is fleeting and that we don ' t know how much time we have , changes everything . I ' m no longer fooled by deceptive ideas of what life is about .
At first I was surprised by the prevalence of laughter ; of a family ’ s ability to talk lightly of the past ; and the shared humor of day to day life . I wasn ' t expecting that at all . I expected everyone to be steeped in sadness as I had been since my Dad ' s death .
I witness a lot of people working with forgiveness . They want to be done with the past , but they know they first need to forgive and to be forgiven . They are dying and they want to let everything go . Through them I realize that if I start working on forgiveness now , I won ' t face such a big task at the end of my life .
One patient was very proud and independent , refusing everything that his family offered him . He didn ' t want special meals , he didn ' t want to be taken for a walk , and said no to everything anyone tried to do . When we were alone , he said that his biggest concern was becoming a burden . But what I had observed was how desperately his family needed to show him their love . I told him that one of the greatest gifts he could give was to accept their help . I assured him that he was not a burden and that he and his family shared a unique opportunity to express their love for one another . He instantly changed his attitude and lovingly accepted their kindness . I observed the huge difference this made . Family members and friends always say that their lives are changed through caring for a dying loved one . I thanked him for helping me learn . I have since shared this wisdom with other patients , helping them through similar situations .
Often patients have said to me , " I feel like I didn ' t accomplish enough in my life . I didn ' t do anything for anyone else . I didn ' t make a difference in the world . I was selfish ." I ’ ve had the opportunity to say , " Let me tell you what you have done for me , what you have given by allowing me to be a part of this process you ' re going through .” This is a profound and beautiful opportunity to say , “ You don ' t have to do anything : you ’ re lying in your bed , you ' re ill , you ' re weak . By simply being who you are , you are giving something to life , to others , the world .”
VOLUME I | 67
I find it so illuminating to sit with people who are dying and to listen to their stories. They are viewing life from the perspective of its end and sharing insights about what really matters to them from that vantage point. I realize that it is a perspective most of us aren't aware of. We don't consider that when we're taking our last breath, we may look at life totally differently from how we're seeing life now. It is also powerful to observe the spiritual transformations that take place at the end of life. So many people open up spiritually in ways that they have never done before. Whenever I am asked to see a patient, I know I am supposed to be there. It is never just a job. I always feel that I am a student, on a mission; and I am being sent to learn something from the patients I visit. But I also have something to give them. We share in this learning. A hospice patient lives with the truth, 'I am now dying’ and 'I have a limited time on this planet.’ I now remind myself that ‘today could be my last day; I may not have more time than this.’ This truth helps me focus on what really matters instead of getting caught up with trivial distractions. Every day I make sure that I am practicing unconditional love and forgiveness; and that I am living in the present moment. Sustaining awareness that life is fleeting and that we don't know how much time we have, changes everything. I'm no longer fooled by deceptive ideas of what life is about. At first I was surprised by the prevalence of laughter; of a family’s ability to talk lightly of the past; and the shared humor of day to day life. I wasn't expecting that at all. I expected everyone to be steeped in sadness as I had been since my Dad's death. I witness a lot of people working with forgiveness. They want to be done with the past, but they know they first need to forgive and to be forgiven. They are dying and they want to let everything go. Through them I realize that if I start working on forgiveness now, I won't face such a big task at the end of my life. One patient was very proud and а)ɕٕͥѡѡЁ́䁽ɕ)!Ё݅Ё̰Ё݅ЁѼ)хȁ݅ͅѼٕѡ役)ɥѼ]ݔݕɔͅѡЁ)Ёɸ݅́ɑ Ёݡ)$͕ٕ݅́܁Ʌѕ䁡́)Ѽ͡܁ѡȁٔ$ѽѡЁ)ѡɕѕЁ́ձٔ݅́ѼЁѡ)$ɕѡЁ݅́Ёɑ)ѡЁ́͡ɕչՔչ)Ѽɕ́ѡȁٔȁѡȸ!хѱ)́ѥՑ٥䁅ѕѡ)̸$͕ٕѡ՝ɕѡ)䁵́ɥ́݅́ͅѡ)ѡȁٕ́ɔѡɽ՝ɥȁ她)ٕ$ѡȁɸ$)ٔͥ͡ɕѡ́ݥ͑ݥѠѡȁѥ̰)ѡѡɽ՝ͥȁͥՅѥ̸)=ѕѥ́ٔͅѼ$$)͠՝䁱$Ёѡ)ȁ役͔$Ёɕѡ)ݽɱ$͕݅́͠'eٔѡչѼͅ(1ЁѕԁݡЁԁٔȁݡ)ԁٕٔ䁅ݥѼЁѡ)ɽ́ԝɔѡɽ՝tQ́́ɽչ)ѥհչѼͅ䰃qeԁЁٔ)Ѽѡ׊eɔ她ȁԝɔ)ԝɔݕ ͥ䁉ݡԁɔԁɔ)٥ͽѡѼѼѡ̰ѡݽɱt()Y=1U5$((