“The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.”– Mark Twain
Life and Death. Two profound moments in time. How does one get ready to die at any given moment, and “ready to go”?
The Shamans ask, “Are you ready to die?” They ask this question to check in to see if you are living your life so fully, with integrity and totality, that IF THIS was your LAST moment, you’d be ready to go. I wonder if Mark Twain knew anything about the Shamans’ way of approaching life and death. They sure have similar views.
What Are You Waiting For?
If you “wait” for that magical something to live your life fully, you may not live the life you want to be living NOW, robbing yourself of your precious human experiences, because you’re still waiting for that “something” to live fully, or even be happy. That formula never works: “When X, then I…” (You can add, “be happy, be joyful, feel successful,” or whatever comes after the I).
We all know that we never know WHEN “that” moment will arrive when we let go of our last breath, so it’s important to grab ahold of your dreams and set them in motion taking baby steps TOWARDS what you want. It doesn’t matter if you “get there” now or not. What matters is that you’re doing something that leads you there. This is what it looks like on the way.
When we are born, we are born with an inhale, (spirit coming in) and when we die, we let go of our last breath with an exhale (spirit going out). It’s as simple as that. Two breaths. It’s what we do with all the breaths in between that make up the quality of our lives.
One life = many breaths in and out, in and out, in and out… and then, POOF: our human experience is GONE! Just like that! Our consciousness or spirit returns to its formless form, no longer in a human body, and that’s a whole other story.
So, how do you want your last breath to be? Do you want to feel all loved up and blessed? Grateful for your life? Fulfilled? Joyful? So full that you are ready to go?
Being Aware Of Our Human Experience
When we become super-duper aware that we are spiritual beings HAVING a human experience, it’s more likely we won’t take our lives for granted as much, or our breaths, for that matter.
While we are here, we have the opportunity to cram in as many wondrous experiences into our lives as possible, reflecting the highest good, revealing the true majesty of the mysterious unknown.
Since we don’t have to be conscious of breathing or beating our own hearts, we have a tendency of “falling asleep at the wheel”, so to speak. We forget that our life force (spirit) is animating us, (moving my fingers, as I type on the keyboard, crossing my legs, as I get comfortable at my desk, or seeing the words as they appear on the screen).
Using our senses to BE AWARE of our human experience helps us to stay conscious of where we are, and how we are living our lives. It’s called being awake or conscious.
Our Life Force
When we become awake or conscious that we are being breathed, that our hearts are beating because of a life force that is beating our hearts, we realize there is something larger happening here. Our life force is being charged by our soul battery, the most powerful source of all energy, LOVE.
When we are conscious of this present moment, we get to see how valuable THIS moment really is. What if THIS moment was our LAST moment as the human we are? Wouldn’t we want it to be fulfilling and joyful? Wouldn’t we want to feel blessed? Of course, we would!
All of this is coming up because of the 3 experiences with death and dying I experienced this month.
Many of you know that I am an end-of-life trainer, death doula/midwife and life coach. I feel privileged to be able to hold the space for families and loved ones who are dying, with honor, dignity and regard, and to take my life coaching clients on a life affirming/joyful journey.
So, the first experience I already shared with you about Bruce, whom I was married to for nearly 20 years. He let go of his last breath on July 9 at 4:15pm. It was an exquisite moment, for sure, with Craig Taubman reading him a poem that Bruce wrote and sent him ten years ago. When Craig read the last word of his poem, Bruce let go of his last breath. The synchronicity of that moment took my breath away. It was just stunning. No one could have orchestrated that moment in that way. Life sometimes is just miraculous!
My ER Visit
The second thing that happened was me going to the ER, right after Bruce passed.
I remember getting up after Craig left, and going around to Bruce’s left side, standing next to him with my hand on his left shoulder… holding the space of profound stillness. The experience was so special, so sacred, no question about it, and we were bathing in its reverence.
I felt light-headed. Sarah took my hand, and we walked outside to the front entrance of the hospital. We sat on a bench.
I had a slight pain in my heart area for an hour or so prior to this, but didn’t think much of it. Then, as I was sitting on the bench, I couldn’t catch the deepest part of my breath to complete my inhalation. I was reaching for it, but I just couldn’t seem to grasp it.
I felt like I was going to faint. I put my head down between my legs and had a pain in the back of my heart, like a muscle cramp, so I had to sit up. My head was getting lighter by the moment, I couldn’t get comfortable and I felt tingling in my fingers, and more and more lethargic.
Sarah called Gary, Bruce’s son, who was upstairs in Bruce’s room, to come down. After consoling me awhile, he asked me if I needed to go to the ER.
I heard myself say, “Yes, ER,” and they wheeled me in a wheelchair into the ER. Luckily for me, it was just around the bend. I was woozy and felt myself leaving consciousness when they scooped me up and put me on a gurney. Immediately they brought a machine to check my vitals. I couldn’t feel my legs or arms, as they were asleep. I couldn’t awaken them. You know the feeling when your foot falls asleep and it tingles until you walk on it a bit. I couldn’t move at all. Very strange sensation, I must admit.
Things Are About To Get Interesting
I felt the nurse put the blood pressure cuff on my arm, and squeeze. In some kind of stupor, I was able to ask her what my blood pressure was. She said my blood pressure was 197/83. “197/83? Wow, that was really high!” I thought to myself. Usually I have low blood pressure (120/60), so this was an entirely new sensation.
I thought to myself, “Oh, so this is what it feels like to have high blood pressure. Hmmm, interesting, I never experienced this before.”
Funny thoughts came to me, like, “You better move over Bruce, I may be joining you.” At least I maintained my sense of humor, and I thought, “You just can’t make this shit up.”
As I was lying on the gurney, they did a chest x-ray and gave me an intravenous Ativan to relax me. And, I definitely relaxed, so much so, I thought I was going to pass out for real, and I heard the nurse’s voice, “It’s okay, you can pass out, you’re lying down.” I thought that was a funny thing to say.
Anyway, I decided to take charge of lowering my own blood pressure with deep breathing and intention. I remember telling Sarah, “Don’t worry honey, I’m going to bring it down.”
Then, something even more intense happened. As I was breathing slowly and deeply, I could feel my body begin to twitch. You know the feeling you get sometimes right before you go to sleep, and your body begins to twitch? It’s almost as if you are falling (like the falling reflex babies have).
Well, my body began to twitch and shake. I told the nurses, “Don’t be scared. My body is just releasing.” I knew it was an electrical issue and I was releasing Bruce’s energy from my body. This must sound strange to those of you who may be uncomfortable with all this spiritual stuff.
My belief is that Bruce’s energy dove into me for a last-ditch effort to stay alive. It’s called “transference”. I’ve experienced it before with my dad and my friend Toni. Their energies jumped into me, and I had to be super-duper conscious of releasing them.
For those of you who knew me when I was married to Bruce, you know that his energy was pretty darn big. He took up a lot of space. In our divorce, I learned that love and abuse were NOT SYNONYMOUS, and that no matter how much love I had, I couldn’t melt someone’s heart open if they didn’t want it opened.
Symbols and Anchors
My symbol for this life lesson is the can opener. You may have seen me once or twice talk about the can opener on a video and what it means. It reminds me that we can NEVER pry someone’s heart open IF they DON’T WANT IT OPENED! That was a HUGE lesson I healed, and for that I am forever grateful. I look at my can opener every day, sitting on my stand on my desk in my office.
I shook out years of Bruce’s energy I had been carrying around and felt whole and complete. That night was spent in the hospital, went home the following day, and Monday was my birthday. Thank God, the funeral was on Tuesday.
The third thing that happened this month was my ex brother-in-law Aminu’s passing. Aminu was the first boy I met on the kibbutz in Israel in 1969. He was a kibbutznik, growing up on the kibbutz. I was 19 years old and he was a year older. He lived next door to me and my two friends, Regina and Tami. We would play and taunt him, pounding on the wall between our rooms, singing, “Aminu, Aminu,” and driving him crazy. He got such a kick out of us, the three crazy American Jewish princesses volunteering on the kibbutz.
About six months later, I got a package that arrived at the airport, and it was my sister, Judy, 15 years old, all dressed up in a maxi coat, false eyelashes, false nails, and a king size pillow tucked under her arm. My mom sent her to me to take care of her. It was either Israel or Juvenile Hall. She opted for Israel.
I introduced her to Aminu, and they ended up getting married, coming back to the states, and having a beautiful baby, my niece Dahlia, who with her husband, David, had four amazing children: Aaron, Daniel, Jacob and Rebekeh. Aminu loved being a grandfather, especially when the kids turned 5 or so. He wasn’t much of a baby fan.
Aminu was diagnosed with leukemia in 2018, and was on various chemo treatments for a while, then had a bone marrow transplant, which healed the cancer, but created an autoimmune disease that attacked various parts of his body. After many visits to City of Hope, he just had it, and was ready for it to be over. Too much pain, too much suffering, no quality of life. His body followed suit, and he came home to Dahlia and David’s house on hospice.
Nurse’s Plus Hospice was a Godsend. They brought everything necessary for Aminu to have a peaceful end. And, it was peaceful. Surrounded by all of his grandchildren, we stood in a circle holding hands, telling stories, sharing experiences, and letting him know how much he meant to each person, that his life MATTERED. We laughed, we cried, and we held the sacred stillness when it was time to do so.
Isn’t that what we all want to feel in the end, that our lives mattered, that we made some kind of impact on someone, that we feel blessed?
Remember that hearing is the LAST sense to go, so if you have someone you love who is dying, they can hear everything you are saying, even if they are unconscious, so make sure you are saying loving and positive things, because that’s what they will leave with, even if they are unconscious.
So, that’s what’s been happening for me this past July.
I’m resurfacing, and will be teaching again soon.
Meanwhile, take care of yourself. Do something you LOVE doing. LOVE the people you are with. Don’t let time go by without telling someone you love that you love them. Why wait? Why wait to feel blessed? Find the things/people in your life you are grateful for, and appreciate every single part of your life NOW.
Thanks for reading my novella. I know I write a lot, and some people don’t read much anymore. I’m just an old-fashioned girl. I hope what I have written enlightens you, inspires you, and energizes you to be more aware and awake of what makes you feel fulfilled and joyful in your life now.
Let me know if you have questions about any of this, because sometimes when someone is dying, we just don’t know what to “do” or say or how to behave.
I’m thinking about putting together an intensive at my house diving into the notion of death and dying, like The Twilight Brigade. Would anyone be interested?
We need to know how to navigate this part of our lives. We will all reach the end of our life at some point or another. Let’s be prepared.
It’s your life. Enjoy the journey. And remember to bring love into everything you do.