We live our lives in fast forward with a thousand distractions each hour. Life is so very fragile and it can turn unexpectedly in a moment’s notice. As I continue my work in hospice, I am surrounded by patients that have received a terminal prognosis and enter this unknown territory of preparing for their own death. It is there they find moments that they are forced to confront their deepest fears, doubts, deep attachments and their own vulnerabilities.
Every day, I’m in awe of the patients that I take care of. Somehow, they find a way to face death with so much courage and fortitude. They somehow find the inner strength to continue to live while they are dying. Their lives are different – there is an honesty where walls come down with a renewed sense of what really matters. The ego is so much smaller…
When a person has an awareness that death is soon, many will search for the meaning of their lives, a reexamination of what their life was about and what legacy they will leave behind. Some will see death as an end to a life of conflict with others – and “tidy up” life, cleaning up the loose ends. Regardless of a person’s religious orientation, there is the true mystery of existence and a deep sense of the infinite. There is a search for the immortal. As I continue to see my patients week after week, I see a softness that emerges. An inner struggle begins to change and a subtle detachment unfolds. This is when many opportunities for forgiveness, deepening faith, love and an incredible sense of gratitude in the simple experiences of life ensues. This is the place where miracles happen…
Dying is not only a medical event that will happen to us all – for many, it is also a spiritual event and a transformation. The surface distractions of daily life are muted resulting in a greater sense of peace, acceptance and depth.
Peace My Heart
Peace, my heart, let the time for the parting be sweet.
Let it not be a death but completeness.
Let love melt into memory and pain into songs.
Let the flight though the sky end in the folding of the wings over the nest.
Let the last touch of your hands be gentle like the flower of the night.
Stand still, O Beautiful End, for a moment, and say your last words in silence.
I bow to you and hold up my lamp to light your way.
Rabindranath Tagore, Bengali poet and philosopher (1861-1941)