Dancing with Angels
I usually get a reaction between quiet disbelief and awe when I tell people I work in hospice. I have spent a good part of the past ten years dancing at deaths door and I am not alone. The angels are dancing there too, on both side of the door in fact.
Death is something difficult, it was not something my family did well with while growing up. I had a cousin who died at the tender age of six, I was just a toddler. I remember her, and I vividly remember looking for her after she had died. Wandering through her house, looking into her bedroom, under the bed, in the closet, trying to find where she had gone. What magical portal did she vanish through?
Thus my childhood was colored with a deep sadness, one I did not truly understand. It would rise to the surface and consume me causing me pain and the inability to speak for some time. Fast forward into my early 30’s and one morning I awoke from a dream of my cousin. I had been looking for her again and again came up empty. When I awoke, the grief that had been stuffed down resurfaced and I wept bitter tears for the loss of her. Here began my journey into the sacred grounds of life after death. I read books about NDE’s- Near Death Experiences, most notable that of children by a renown pediatrician Melvin Morse MD. He interviewed young patients who had been clinically dead and then revived and found that they all had similar stories of what had happened to them. Some would argue it is just the remnants of the brain shutting down, but that never occurred to me, because I have always believed in the soul. It is the energy that makes our bodies and minds work. Energy is never gained or lost, it only changes form.
When I became a nurse in my 40’s, when asked which part of nursing I would like to be involved with, my soul spoke and said hospice. I didn’t really know a lot about it except it dealt with death and dying. I got that look for the first time, the one I now am quite use to. I wanted to make a difference in the dying process for the patient and the family. I wanted to be there, to be present, not afraid, and share this dance from one life to the next because I did not want others to endure years of unnamed pain. When you can name something it becomes less, it loses its power over you. Still you must face your emotions and feel the tremendous strength of your grief; it breaks you open and redefines you. The beauty of grief is that it is truly a testament to the love you shared on earth. But please know that the bonds of love are never broken, they continue from this world to the next.
I do believe being left behind is perhaps harder than leaving; the unanswered questions, the loneliness, the journey of discovering ourselves through loss. But we are never alone; our loved ones are only a heartbeat away, a breath into silence. And the Angels are always around us, sacredly dancing, comforting and caring for us and those who go before us.