What is waiting for us

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This past weekend I took a class with Anysia Kiel http://www.anysiakiel.com/. We did a guided meditation of sorts.  It was all at once amazing, powerful and undeniable. Visualizing sitting at the ocean and thinking of our loved ones who have passed over she asks us to stand and turn to our left and start walking.  Then she suggests that these very same loved ones are walking towards us to greet us.

In my minds eye I can see him, he is smiling and running towards me blasting an intense wave of unconditional love as he wraps his spiritual arms around me.  The energy nearly knocks me off my chair and I begin to sob. Even though I know he is always with me- I have missed his hugs, I have missed his physical person- this is the next best thing.  His love envelops me, I feel his smile.  He makes me smile through my tears.

Then a tender energy steps forward, My Mama from another time.  She is also with me in spirit daily but now I feel her sweet tender kisses.

Lastly my golden retriever, Ruby comes bouncing up. She loves the beach, once she even swam on Christmas day, this is her happy place.  I feel her nudges, see her chocolate eyes and feel her joy.

I am consumed by LOVE.  There is a crowd behind them, I cannot even begin to imagine all the LOVE that is waiting for me.

Often, we are so sad when someone passes, our hearts break, we miss them beyond words. So, I offer this, even though they are leaving us behind they are returning to those who went before them.  It is a Divine Reunion of Unconditional Love. Our sadness is not theirs.  Joy awaits them, and they are always always always still with us, if only in Spirit.

 

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The Sacredness of Chronic Illness

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Chronic illness can appear to be cruel.  My hospice patient who developed ALS is currently unable to do anything for herself except chew, breathe and talk.  She is unable to move her arms and legs or care for herself in anyway as she lamented yesterday- “I can’t even blow my own nose!” She went on to share she felt that her caregiver and her husband were getting tired of caring for her, this was her own perception.  What do you say to this? I took a deep breathe and prayed whatever came out of my mouth was in someway helpful-to back track a bit- before work I invited the Angels to work with me- to guide me and assist me in any way they can- because often I am faced with situations that are emotionally challenging.  These are the words that formed-

“You have a sacred bond with them.  Your illness is sacred and allowing others to care for you is an opportunity for your caregivers and those that love you to develop important things like compassion and patience.  You think you are doing nothing? No, my friend, you are giving them a gift to become more, to grow and expand not just their human side but their spirit side as well. What you are doing is ripe with purpose, a beautiful gift.”

Tears formed in the corners of her eyes; I wasn’t sure if she absorbed my words, but she smiled a little.  “But I am ready! I have packed my bags and I am ready to go!” she managed very very slowly.

“I know, but you are not done.  You have purpose, you are needed here.  Until that is finished you will stay, teaching others.”

After my visit I sat in my car and let the words sink in.  My own mother had a chronic illness, she was a great teacher as well.

She always said, “Patience is a virtue.”

To which I would reply- “I don’t want to be virtuous!”

I have come to accept that all things have Divine Will and Divine Timing woven into the fabric of their existence. Indeed, it is a lesson offered once again in the eyes of a hospice patient.

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Spiritual Tools

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Yesterday my ego got the better of me.  A hospice patients’ husband resumed his tirade of yelling at me for a situation I cannot control.  He has a habit of spewing his anger on anyone, so I wasn’t specifically targeted, but alas my ego was bruised.  My line of work is emotionally intense on any given day and often my human self gets tired of the demands, my Soul knows better.  At one point in his tirade I asked him quite calmly to just stop, he looked at me with disgust as if I was not a worthy adversary and became quiet. When I finished my visit I sat in my car and tried to let it all go, my ego was having none of it, it wanted validation that I didn’t deserve this behavior, I was bringing my heart into a situation trying to help- it reasoned, my Soul knew better- I was learning a Lesson…

Fast forward to a cup of tea and the news, which I don’t often watch, but tonight I was compelled to turn on PBS NewsHour.  There was a segment on a woman, she was the child in the photograph from the Vietnam war that was running down the street naked and burnt from the napalm the USA had dropped on her.

She became an icon. She is a person.

She has endured humiliation, suffering and pain.  Seventeen surgeries and a lifetime of pain.  She spoke of finding the New Testament in the library and turning to Christianity.  She said it helped her.  She began to pray for her “enemies”. She learned about FORGIVENESS and LOVE. She works with children. She walks the walk; she has embraced the teachings of Christ and is living them.  This woman who was violated as a child, her clothes and skin stripped from her, healed herself by applying Spiritual Tools. At the end of the segment She smiled.

My ego was humbled. My Soul smiled. Intellectually I know we cannot control how people behave but now my heart knew it too.  I let the days’ lesson go, quietly I prayed for him, for the woman on the news and myself. I forgive him and send him love but more importantly I forgive myself for forgetting. Ever grateful for the Spiritual Tools I have and the reminder from Spirit to use them daily.

 

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Friends

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Something I adopted this year when speaking to my patients and families-I would address them as “My friend…” with a sincere heart- it made such a difference. There was a shift in perception-we are in this together- friendship implies so many good qualities of a relationship.

Yesterday a husband of one of my patients, both in their 90’s, shared this story with me.  He said he and his wife were driving to South Carolina, an eleven-hour trip, conversation had gotten old and the silence had come. “Out of the blue my wife said: ‘You are my best friend Bob!’ I had never looked at her like this before, I had always just thought she was my wife! It made me think.”  It was such sweet moment.  Her eyes twinkled.

I have come to use this phrase it in many areas of my life-addressing people as “My friend” has built a bridge of commonality and love. In this time where there can be such diversion of beliefs-we are fed a constant media diet of separation- it is nice to know a few well-chosen words can open a gateway of compassion.

We are all children of God, beings made up of Stardust and Love. Let us remember our need to see the good in each other, the need to be friends. Happy New Year!

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Hugs

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Yesterday I went to the wake of a friend’s husband.  She was in the midst of the emotional turmoil that surely accompanies any one in that moment. Standing in front of the casket greeting people with tears and hugs desperately trying to hold it together. His diagnosis only a week earlier, he left this world quickly.

We worked on the inpatient hospice unit together many moons ago.  She and I have since become grocery store friends, running into each other exchanging hugs and updates on the events in our lives.  Sometimes friendships can be as simple as that.  A hug.

Working in hospice both of us have witnessed much in the way death comes and the aftermath of emotion that ensues the left behind living.  You don’t become immune to it, it is just different to be a professional in death and dying, an observer, a helper of sorts.  But when death becomes personal it reminds us that we too are deeply touched by its presence on another level.  It is a journey we all witness, a journey we all will ultimately take.

Recently someone asked me “How do you do this?”  I can only say that death for me is a bittersweet moment.  I often feel relief for the person who had passed into the Afterlife, restored to their Spiritual being, whole, no longer suffering. Now unconditionally LOVED  in GOD’s world.  That I am truly grateful, but I am also human, my human heart breaks over and over again when someone leaves the emptiness we feel.

Grief takes residence in our brokenness; it brings unbearable moments of deep emotions that may bring us to our knees.  Grief is the great releaser of sadness, it provides a way to empty out the broken heart, so that at some point the heart can rebuild itself, heal into a new version of itself.  Grief is always present, sometimes it is loud and demands every ounce of our attention, other times it is soft and reminds us of the LOVE we shared and still do.

I often say the bonds of Love are never broken, Love is never destroyed, Love is the fabric of our very existence.  Grief reminds us how important Love is.

My friend embraced me in a seemingly endless hug, held tight my hand.  Love embraced us, two friends opening our hearts to the journey of grief.

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Changes

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Change is the only constant in our lives.  November has arrived and with it the early morning brisk sunrises, the hope that the sun will warm us as he passes along his path.  Sweatshirts and jeans are calling from my closet, a hot cup of tea, a snuggle with the dog. Part of me mourns the passing of the warmer days, I keep my window open at night listening to songs of the creatures who grace the darkness.  The colder nights they become quieter, the songs recede, the stars twinkle brighter in the depths of colder skies.

Change is coming, change is only the flow of life through the passing of the seasons.  In our world time is linear, the sunrises and then sets, the moon’s phases mark the month, the earth mirrors back to us the passage of time with her seasons.

In hospice I watch the final seasons evolve to a higher plane of existence. My little lady lies in wait, her body finding winter, cold and barren, her breathing shallow as if to question whether to see another sunrise, another phase of the moon.  She lies in waiting, no longer hunger urging her, no longer consumed with the worries of humans, no longer aging.  She waits for the moment, when all of her thoughts turn from this world to the next.  She waits for the leap of faith, the walking from this world to the next, the leaving behind the mortal flesh with gratitude and no regrets.  Her life’s work accomplished, she survived the changes and challenges that life demanded of her.  Her legacy of heart, sweet and endeared to be remembered.

We wait for the change; we lay witness to her transition.  I kiss her forehead ever grateful for the honor of sharing her journey.  She and I have come full circle.  She and I have completed the spiritual agreement laid in place eons ago, and now it is fulfilled.

The change is coming, and the world will be a better place for it, bittersweet our human hearts, joyful our spiritual hearts.

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Saving Each Other

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Sometimes the Soul speaks. I have a patient who has Parkinson’s disease, she has expressive aphasia, she has thoughts she cannot put into words. This causes her a great deal of frustration.  Last week she decided she had had enough and want to go to the hospital to die. We talked about this choice and that perhaps going to the hospital doesn’t always equate into death. We talked about her frustrations, and her loss of self-control, the tremors, the inability to walk, the need to be fed.  I acknowledged all of these things, she cried and released a lot of pent up emotion, wordless expression of her sorrow. I sat with her and held her hand. Her husband sat silently in his recliner listening to the interaction. By the end of the visit she felt calmer, peace had found an entry way into her sadness.

Yesterday I visited again, she asked me this “When did you move back from California?” Her words were clear and concise. At first, I was confused and offered, “I only visited last Spring, two of my children live there…” Thinking perhaps she had confused my vacation time away from her.

Then she looked me right in the eye, there was a light in hers I hadn’t seen before and she said, “You don’t remember- do you?” Now I was totally intrigued, magic was afoot, her soul was speaking…

“Tell me what I have forgotten…” I encouraged her.

“You saved me once before.  When I was a young girl you came and saved me.”

“How?”

“I was going to commit suicide and you saved me.  And now I have three beautiful children and Bob!”

It was a huge statement; I wasn’t sure how to process it.  My mind reeling, she is 89 years old, 32 years my senior.  Mathematically impossible, at least in my current form.

I replied, “I am so glad we are together again.”

We talked a little about why people choose to take their own lives, to stop the pain and suffering they find unending.  We talked a bit about how the ones left behind are left in that pain, and how it breeds sadness for everyone.  She nodded her head, she understood that now.

We sat in silence, I held her hand, the soul light receded from her eyes.  She complained she was uncomfortable, I repositioned her with pillows, she closed her eyes to nap.

I later spoke with a friend who suggested that I had indeed intervened, as a different person, in a different lifetime for me, and now it has come full circle, as now she is fulfilling her life and I am walking her home.

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