Art of Dying Volume One | Page 68

I have observed in hospice that the more prepared people are for death, the better their experience of the death process. Identities and accomplishments that had seemed so solid and important begin to slip away. It is as if they are returning to who they are as souls. My patients inspire me to realize that so much of what I busy myself with and think about in my life is actually superficial. The more I can be aware that I am a soul, the easier it is to let go of all the things that are illusions, all the attachments that create an identity that dies. Today everyone has the opportunity to be more informed and better prepared to die. We have more resources offering opportunities to learn and talk about death and dying. Baby boomers will be better prepared for death because of these opportunities. And as younger generations participate in the conscious death movement, a more enlightened relationship with death will exponentially grow. I advise people to consider what they want at the end of life and to prepare their advance directives but, honestly, I don't care that much. I will be fine in a hospital, fine if I am home. If my family is with me, great; but I’m okay if they can't be there. I’m okay if I'm in a nursing home. I'm not worrying about it any more. In my own heart, I will be fine no matter how things unfold because I understand what the process is and I just trust it will be perfect. I will prepare a living will and advance directive so that medical personnel will have guidelines to follow and my family will have an idea. But I am not worried about anything. I feel that my Dad has been my silent partner. KAREN WYATT, MD WWW.KARENWYATTMD.COM • WWW.EOLUNIVERSITY.COM 68 | ART OF DYING WHAT REALLY MATTERS I became a student of death and dying as a hospice doctor. While I knew about pain and symptom management, I was learning about death itself from my patients.. They helped me understand impermanence; the fact that everything dies, everything changes.. They taught me how to practice forgiveness because so many were working on forgiveness. Many patients said to me, ‘Why do I have so much wisdom now, when I’m only going to be alive for a few days?’ ‘Why do I have this insight, this way of seeing things when I’m not going to be here to share it?’ I realized I could be the dying’s voice, that everyone should have access to this information now, not during their last days of life. This realization led to writing What Really Matters. It took me 12 years to finish. I encountered so much resistance when I first started writing and shared its ideas that I put it away for a long time. The world wasn’t ready then. Now it is. END OF LIFE UNIVERSITY End of Life University came about after publishing What Really Matters. Promotion was a struggle. People in the media weren’t interested in a book about death and dying, Places where I sought speaking engagements, even in the medical community, didn’t want to hear about it. So I created End of Life University, an online forum where people can learn about death and dying from a broad range of resources in a resistance free environment. THE TAO OF DEATH I heard that Bhutan is the happiest country of the world and, as Buddhists, the Bhutanese think of death 5 times a day. I wrote The Tao of Death, based on Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching, to be an accessible companion, from which one verse could be read and contemplated as a daily inspiration to embrace death’s significance in our life.