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Dying Well is not just a story about a husband and wife who learn how to celebrate life while facing impending death. This book is an inspiring love story of two people who go through good times and bad times, and in the end, face death with dignity and grace. The author thoughtfully relays their plan to celebrate life, not have regrets and face death peacefully, without fear. In this nine month journey, Susan shares the lessons learned as their family came to accept her husband’s imminent death. The family found many ways to make the last stage of his life as warmhearted and happy as possible. Even though this book is about death and end of life, it is very uplifting, thought-provoking and offers different perspectives on dying. This book has the power to help anyone who is facing death and those they love realize what is most important at the end of life.
As a retired hospice nurse, I have seen many families struggle with accepting a loved one’s terminal illness diagnosis. Even more difficult, once the diagnosis has been accepted, figuring out what needs to be done before death, which usually comes sooner than one would expect. Each family member has their own ideas of what should be done. Typically these family members are very verbal and push their own fears, desires and needs upon the dying family member. This creates extra stress for the person who is terminally ill. Ultimately, the patient’s wishes should be respected and followed as closely as possible.
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I really appreciated Susan’s approach in this difficult situation. She was completely supportive to all family members, especially her husband. Different options were discussed with the family. When Susan and Bruce finally decided they had enough treatment and wanted to live life with dignity to the end, not every family member agreed with them. The family did end up agreeing to honor Bruce’s wishes. Bruce went into hospice care and the family helped him celebrate his life and wrap up loose ends along the way.
Hospice is not some big scary word. it is a care philosophy. This care can be provided wherever the patient resides: home, apartment, hotel, group home, nursing home or inpatient hospice facility. Hospice is really a type of care that focuses on the palliation of a chronically ill, terminally ill or seriously ill patient’s pain and symptoms, and attending to their emotional and spiritual needs. Family involvement is always encouraged. The hospice team, which consists of a nurse, social worker, chaplain and hospice aide, provides care for the patient and family. This care continues even after the patient has died. The pre-bereavement and bereavement support is phenomenal and can help families cope and thrive after the death of a loved one.
Planning for death is not an easy thing for most people. Just like planning for a birth, planning for death is just as important, if not more important. Even if you are not ill, it is a great idea to make your wishes known in writing and select a healthcare power of attorney to make decisions for you if you are ever incapacitated. This book presents many different practical options for end of life care and decision making. Susan did an excellent job in sharing end of life information in a non threatening way. I feel like she took the ‘scary’ out of death planning. In the end, it is truly the person’s life that should be celebrated.
About the Author:
Susan Ducharme Hoben is a former executive consultant with IBM’s Strategy and Change Consulting practice. She put her mathematics degree from Cornell University and graduate studies at Georgia Institute of Technology to good use in a thirty-five year career in information technology that began with systems engineering with IBM and ended with consulting. Upon retirement, Sue founded a travel journal about luxury barging in Europe.
After a lifetime of watching people die, and just as importantly, watching people live, Sue feels passionately that we Americans do not die well, taking a terrible toll on us, emotionally and financially. She hopes that her experience with an uplifting end-of life journey can contribute a valuable perspective to the growing interest in exploring how we die.
About the Reviewer:
Leigh Ann Tatnall is a retired RN who specialized in geriatrics, hospice and wellness. She has completed a Doctorates in Naturopathy and is a Certified Wellness Counselor. When not reviewing books, you can find Leigh Ann researching lyme disease, cooking, exercising, teaching wellness or crafting therapeutic essential oils. For more info, you can visit her on her website: Purfume Essentials or Leigh Ann’s Lyme
by Dana Hayne
NO! Not another funeral, my mind shrieks! You see, these days my social life is more about death and funerals than marriage and babies. For, I have finally reached what my sister kind-heartedly calls the ‘low side of old’— a growing group that many of us are being pressed into— willingly or not.
As a labor and delivery nurse and hospice volunteer, I am no novice to life’s transitions and have assisted many in the comings and goings to and from this world. But the growing trend to cremate rather than bury, with little or no one questioning the trend, disturbs me and I feel compelled to share a sober perspective.
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You ask from what authority I speak. I speak from the wisdom of His Holiness Bawa Muhaiyaddeen, a 120 year old mystic from Sri Lanka. I met His Holiness in 1973. Like so many other disillusioned Baby Boomers, I had dropped out of everything and became a professional globe trotter, looking for meaning. But in 1973, I returned, disheartened and in low spirits, not having found the longed-for enlightenment. Oddly enough, it was here in the United States where I met this wise man, who had been invited to teach.
I studied with his Holiness for the next thirteen years until his passing. Over those years, hundreds came asking question, among them world leaders, journalists, educators, and religious scholars. I was present for many of those interviews by notable sources such as Psychology Today, the Harvard Divinity Bulletin, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Pittsburgh Press, Time Magazine, and WBAI radio.
The Hindus called this centenarian, Guru or Swami. The Muslims called him Sheikh or His Holiness. For myself, I came to call him Bawa, which means father. Eschewing honorifics himself, this humble man, who referred to himself as an ‘ant man’, spoke in parables and extoled each of us to see all lives as our own, to acquire God’s divine qualities, and to die to the false self or to die before death.
What follows are reflections about cremation from notes, written while living communally in Bawa’s presence.
March 1974 – Tonight, Bawa sang a long, mournful song. “O God, what kind of world is this today that one has to pay to be born and pay to die?” As I listened, his mournful notes began to erode my youthful shield of immortality. When he finished singing, he explained that proper burial was essential to the journey of the soul and should be considered and upheld as an inalienable right due every individual, regardless of status. (Tell that to the funeral companies!)
He continued to pluck this tune about death and dying— a tune which was most irreverent to youthful ears. Soon, however, I recognized it as central to his teachings on both a spiritual and physical level. On a metaphysical level, he spoke about man’s need ‘to die before death’ to the false self or to the ‘I’ —a mere concept, constructed on the wisp of a thought. On a physical level, he spoke about the need for proper burial practices.
March 24, 1974 -Tonight, I was sitting in Bawa’s room. I was tired and nodding off—beat after a twelve hour shift, helping to deliver a reluctant baby. As I listened in between snores, Bawa told the story of creation, explaining how the soul needed to be physically ‘housed’ and how God requested of each of the elements a willingness to embody the soul, and how all the elements, except Earth, refused the duty. I shrugged myself, trying to stay awake. Next, he explained that man had a ‘debt’ to the earth for this real estate contract and that upon his physical death, man must repay the loan in full, that that earth must go back to earth; that is, into the ground.
What did he say? I gave myself another shrug and straightened up. He had my attention now and I thought to myself, So?? What about cremation? I mean really! It makes so much more sense than burial. No holding all that real estate hostage to dead bodies and all.
He continued the story and was describing Judgment Day and how each part of the body must stand before the Creator for an accounting about the good or the bad deeds they had performed. He explained that the tongue must be witness to what it had said (Ouch!); that the ears must declare what they had heard (Ouch!); The hands (Ouch!); and so on. I’m ouching in my mind as I recall all the bits of life that I thought I could mentally sweep into the trash as ‘didn’t happen.’ I had not realized that all those offenses sat there as future evidence, for only Purity could permanently delete the items in my Trash bin.
Bawa continued the story. Now he was talking about the moment of death. He was explaining that consciousness remained with the body until the body was interred, that the individual could not move or speak, as though anesthetized, but could feel and hear.
What! Now, I was not just mentally ouching, but screaming. What? Can hear! Can feel! I was shocked and appalled as the import of this explanation began to sink in. This was not unlike stories I had heard from near-death survivors, who described something similar. Suddenly, another disturbed listener squeaked, “But Bawa, what then of cremation?”
Graphically, Bawa blew all my ideation about the logic and practicality of cremation out of the water. Horrified, I listened as he described the crematory process in graphic detail and how the body essentially melted, with consciousness feeeeling each and every thermal spark and flicker. He described how as the flames worked their way up the body and reached the level of the chest, the heart would burst and the soul in its effort to escape the body, made the corpse jolt upright, hence the practice of weighting the corpse with logs. Next he described how as the fire reached the level of the head, the brain would burst and wisdom would depart.
I was done. Fried. (sorry) I had so much to think about. You see, at this time, I was a budding Florence Nightingale and this ‘capital D’ thing was just dogging me. I had so many questions. What about transplants? What about artificial insemination? What about test tube babies? What if all these brilliant scientific innovations were built on similar ignorance?
It’s a wonder how so many of us, even the most articulate, are rendered mute when it comes to expressing intimacies. It’s as though we’ve been gagged or our tongues have been surgically removed. If we’re lucky, those confidences break their bund before our loved ones depart so that healing can occur.
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About two weeks before my mother died, (Who knew it was to be only two more weeks?) I was perched on the edge of her bed, when the damn broke.
“Dana, did Chris (my father) ever hurt you?”
Ok, I didn’t see this coming and was certainly not prepared. It just seemed such poor timing to open this wound on the home stretch. But I guess, better late than never.
”You know, Mom. What’s done is done. Dad’s gone. And I’m Ok. Let’s leave it there.” I looked over. She’d closed her eyes, and I thought, Whew!
Relieved that she seemed willing to take her finger off the fire of this topic, I sat there lost in my own thoughts. I’d always wondered if she’d suspected ‘things’. Somehow that she braved asking me about it seemed enough. Certainly, we weren’t going to find ease with each other if I held her somehow accountable at this late stage in the game.
But she wasn’t finished. “Dana, what did Bawa say about cremation?”
Now she asks me!!! Why now? Oh, she had timed these questions so spectacularly to get my attention. In all my years with Bawa, she never once asked me anything and, basically, chose to ignore my relationship with him. Furthermore, she had already made it clear to each of her children that she wanted to donate her organs to medical science and that her remains should be cremated. That being said, I had also learned long ago that it was useless to plead any cause, let alone this one, before this dynamo, who back in 1945 was dubbed a ‘Fair Portia’ by the Supreme Court of South Carolina when she was the first woman lawyer to plead a case in that court. So now that she’d dropped the bomb, I was hesitant to answer.
“Oh, Mom. He said so many things, most of which are a matters of faith and with which you may or may not agree like about the soul and Judgement Day and the questioning. Whether you believe any of those things or not doesn’t concern me because I know your goodness. But one thing he said that does concern me was that when cremated, one feels the fire, and if that’s at all true, I certainly would not want that for you.”
So it was that Mom was buried.
So dear reader— THE DOOR. We must all pass through that door one day. We can be certain of that. Other things we cannot know with such certainty. For my part, I surely hope I’ve created doubt in some of your beliefs about the efficacy of this thing called cremation.
No matter what you choose, my friend, be kind and dare to speak and most certainly, forgive, for it is law that each of us will take our turn in that bed.
I leave you with a poem that hopefully will offer happy thoughts and make for a joyous exit.
I’ve waited many babies their entrance into this world.
Some, who were willing and eager,
Came swift and squalling into this roil called life.
While others, who were fearful and resistant,
Slowed and slipped,
Came halting and languid.
And all the while, excited voices urged their progress,
“You can do it! Come on! Come on! We await you!”
And now, scores later, I sit here still, waiting and watching,
As friends, now ripened and spent,
Crawl and slither the dark passage from here to there.
Swift is not so common the pace at this transition.
Not certain that Mother waits their arrival on yonder shore,|
Most seem to stall their progress,
To bargain yet another breath,
Willing to barter every physical comfort for another pulmonary puff or sputter.
Oh, how to assure these wary travelers that maternal instincts do joyously await their arrival,
That as they slip this earthly chrysalis, holy ones do wait to wrap them in celestial wings of love.
Rest, dear traveler, and know your journey done.
Be not critic of your own show,
For Providence sees with vastly kinder eye.
Go now, weary one.
Push off with that bargained, last breath
And trust the wave to wash you into waiting arms|
That chant not funeral dirge, but feliz anivesrário.
About the author:
Dana Hayne is a retired labor and delivery and maternity nurse. She received a bachelor of science in nursing from Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, graduating magna cum laude. She continues to assist individuals in their healing journey as a medical tour guide to the Casa de Dominacio Healing Center in Brazil for the spiritual healer, John of God. She also volunteers with the chaplaincy and hospice services in her community hospital. Dana lives with Rodger, her husband of more than forty years, in the suburbs of Philadelphia where they enjoy their two sons and three grandchildren. Learn more about Dana and her newly published book “GPS for the Soul: Wisdom of the Master” by visiting GPS4TheSoulBook.com.
Death is something most of us fear and avoid thinking about at all costs. But according to Patt Lind-Kyle, author of Embracing the End of Life: A Journey Into Dying & Awakening, our conscious and unconscious fear of death prevents us from experiencing true contentment. Preparing for our eventual death now—mentally, emotionally, and spiritually—enables us to release the uncertainty and fear of dying.
Lind-Kyle’s eight-step process, which she calls The Journey to Freedom: A Guide to Life, lays out the psychospiritual transformation we all can go through long before we die. This journey gives you the understanding of why you must train your mind to live fully and prepare yourself now for your eventual death.
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Steps 1-4 explain how the mind develops over time into an identity that Lind-Kyle calls the constricted self. Steps 5-8 teach the steps for unraveling the constricted self and transforming into the expanded self. Keep reading to learn more.
STEP 1: The Journey of Separation. In this step you explore how fear begins to be a central part of your life. Lind-Kyle says your “constricted self”—the ego structure that encompasses body, mind, and brain—was born when you separated from your mother’s womb. This is the anxious, angry, shame-filled, survival-driven self that believes it is separate from the expanded self. (It’s the “expanded self” that realizes all is connected and that death is merely an illusion.) As you grew and explored your new world, this sense of separation from the “other” was reinforced. Also, at certain stages of life—from ages 3-5, from 30-34, from 60-64, and from 90-94—this sense of separation intensifies.
Lind-Kyle provides a series of exercises—involving journaling and meditation practices—to help you explore the birth of your constricted self and your deep fears and insecurities around separation.
STEP 2: The Journey of Emotions. Imagine a plant growing in the earth. As it gets a little water, it sends its roots deeper to get more connection and be more earthbound. In this analogy, your emotions are the water that makes you more bound and constricted as you grow older. These emotional structures create boundaries that keep you separated from yourself and others.
From ages 34-38 and 64-68, you may find yourself wanting more of everything, better relationships, or more passion and creativity. These strong desires build and create tension, restrictions, or blocks in the flow of your life. This resistance manifests as judging, negating, doubting, or belittling yourself. Further, in moments of fear, you may experience reactive emotions like anxiety, worry, anger, shame, panic, and guilt.
Lind-Kyle offers exercises to help you examine and cope with the emotional patterns you have developed over your lifetime. Using the Enneagram—an ancient energy template revealing the nine human interconnected personality types—she helps you recognize how your particular Enneagram “type” influences your dominant feelings and defense mechanisms.
STEP 3: The Journey of the Mind. Your thinking process can become a powerful force dividing you from your physical body. Around ages 8-12 (and then again at ages 38-42 and 68-72), your focus on language moves your attention from your body to your head. You become enthralled with talking, thinking, and figuring things out, which separates further from the sense of being grounded, and from your emotions and sensory awareness. As a result, you are cut off from the source of your core energy; living in your head robs you of your vital, alive self.
When the mind is the driver of the doer, there is an intense need to feel recognized, to be in power, and to be loved for the power and accomplishments. This craving overpowers the practical needs or emotions that allow life to flow. The goal of this strong desire is to be happy and to move out of the fear of survival and suffering, but instead it moves toward an excess of worldly pleasures. These come in all kinds of packages such as wealth, fame, sexual pleasure, food, and appearance.
The physical ramifications of being out of balance in this energy frequency are issues of digestion, liver, pancreas, spleen, stomach, gallbladder, kidneys, chronic fatigue, acidity, hypoglycemia, diabetes, and back pain.
STEP 4: The Journey of Self-Identity. This process describes how you identify as a separate person from the world around you. You strongly identify with your name, family, partners, history, job, and friends. Then in early adulthood, a main identity—for example, parent, doctor, or gardener—becomes dominant. With that firm label, you have a stable personal identity and feel secure. In midlife, the constricted self compels you to look at what you have done in your life in terms of your talents and accomplishments, and this confirms your identity once again. In later life, it is looking back and trying to confirm meaning and purpose among the various identities that you have played out throughout your life.
To help you recognize how The Journey of Self-Identity has affected your life, Lind-Kyle provides several exercises and meditations. Using your individual Enneagram type, she helps you recognize how your personality patterns have affected your sense of identity over the years.
Steps five through eight help you face and unwind your ego-created journey—your constricted self. (Note that this is the same process that happens when you die.) When you surrender the constricted self, it doesn’t vanish or go away, but it is no longer in control of your life. The great blessing of letting go is that you now have a choice of what behaviors and actions you choose.
STEP 5: Freedom from Personal Identity. In this step, you begin to detach from your constricted ego. This path to freedom allows you to embody, accept, and become open to all aspects of your separation without self-judgment. Now you will begin to shift your perception to your expanded self and move into a space of awareness. Lind-Kyle says forgiveness is the energy of the heart that releases the binding structure of your self-identity and removes the feeling of being a victim. It also enables you to release your deepest fears.
To begin the transformation and opening of your heart, focus on these four simple forgiveness meditation phrases. Fill in the person (including yourself) or people you would like to forgive:
I forgive (myself, the other, or group) for not understanding.
I forgive (myself, the other, or group) for making mistakes.
I forgive (myself, the other, or group) for hurting (myself, the other, or group).
I forgive (myself, the other, or group) for not following (my, your, their) deepest values.
STEP 6: Freedom from the Mental Self. This step involves releasing the mental patterns that have bound you to your inner pain and suffering. Lind-Kyle says the key to releasing your controlling mind is practicing gratitude. Gratitude increases the vibration and energy of the heart center and enables your neurons to fire off in new patterns that generate joy, happiness, freedom, and inner contentment. The greater the gratitude, the more the mind chatter dies away, and clarity of awareness of your expanded self continually opens. Practicing gratitude also reveals that you are not the “doer” of the self-centered constricted self.
To start practicing gratitude, Lind-Kyle offers this exercise:
- Make a list of all the things you are grateful for, and a list of all the things you are not grateful for. Keep adding to the lists for a few days.
- Say the words “thank you” for both the positive and negative people, situations, and events you experience.
- A few days later, touch your heart area when you say “thank you” for both positive and negative events. The physical touch and feeling will begin to open the love doorway wider and wider.
STEP 7: Freedom from the Emotional Self. From the moment you wake up each day, you are driven by an inner dialogue that keeps you racing in fear, anger, judgment, confusion, pleasure, uncertainty, and so on as you process your thoughts, sensations, feelings, and emotions. Unwinding your emotional impulses helps you gain the possibility of inner expansion and release from fear. According to Lind-Kyle, practicing appreciation trains your reactive mind to stay focused in the present moment. The energy charge of appreciation activates the feeling state within you and shifts your moods, attitudes, and beliefs.
Every day, look for people and situations to express your appreciation—by simply seeing and acknowledging what you see. For example, if you see a cat stretched out on a windowsill, you might say, “You look beautiful in your relaxation,” or if you notice a coworker working late, speak your appreciation to his or her effort. As you speak your appreciation, feel the energy speaking from your heart. The awareness of your appreciation builds an energy charge between you and the other. Keep the appreciation going throughout the day. The more you appreciate consistently throughout the day, the more the energy will increase the clarity of your awareness.
STEP 8: Freedom from Separation. This final step recognizes the illusion of your “false” outer home and the separation you have lived with all your life. The means to return to your “real” home—as a complete human—is through kindness and compassion. These two practices fully open your heart to embrace your expanded self. Once the constricted self surrenders, unity envelops you, and your sense of identify shifts to become the entire universe. Yes, this is what happens when you die. But this is also what can happen for you now, today. When the constricted self crumbles, the mind clears and the heart of kindness and compassion opens up. This is the place of awakening to your essential human self in this lifetime.
Lind-Kyle offers powerful exercises and meditations to help you attune to the high-level frequencies of kindness and compassion.
If you allow it, this eight-step process can heighten and raise your consciousness. You come now to the place of integration to combine all the qualities of the heart to become whole within you. It creates the potential to shift you into being free of all that creates tension, pain, and fear within you to a quality of expansion and acceptance of your true self.
About the Author:
Patt Lind-Kyle, MA, is the author of Embracing the End of Life: A Journey Into Dying & Awakening, and is a teacher, therapist, speaker, and consultant. Her book Heal Your Mind, Rewire Your Brain won the Independent Publisher Gold Medal Award and a Best Book Award from USA Book News. Patt has written a chapter in Audacious Aging, and she is also the author of When Sleeping Beauty Wakes Up. She lives in Nevada City, CA, and can be found online at www.PattLindKyle.com.
About the Book:
Embracing the End of Life: A Journey into Dying & Awakening (Llewellyn Publications, 2017, ISBN: 978-0-738-75356-0, $22.99) is available at bookstores nationwide, Amazon.com, and BarnesAndNoble.com.
by Anne Geraghty
The one certainty in life is death. A Chinese politician, a native of the Amazonian jungle, a Wall Street banker and a single mother in a Manchester housing estate lead very different lives but they have one thing in common – one day they will die. Yet death remains the great unknown. A recent survey revealed that discussing death is still taboo for 80% of people. It seems we are afraid even to think about it. Perhaps we have enough on making a living without pondering our dying. But death is not separate from life; death is life. Without death, life would have no meaning. In fact, being alive at all depends upon death, after all, the Law of the Jungle on this planet is: ‘Eat or be eaten’; and our planet is a jungle as much as a garden. Being alive involves a continual encounter with death whether we are aware of it or not.
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I was not aware of it. I never thought much about death at all; my focus was on coming alive, learning to love, being awake to the wonders of life. What mattered was life here, not an afterlife with white lights, smiling bodhisattvas, angels on harps or thousands of virgins, depending on which brochure I read. I had the vague notion that when we die we dissolve back into existence, God, the light, stardust, I didn’t mind what word was used, and we live on in whatever is our legacy, in memories, in the hearts of people who loved us. Then, out of the blue, my son Tim died. Many inexplicable things happened and I could no longer accept such a simple description of death. Neither could I accept the versions of afterlife given to me by various religions. I began a journey into death.
I explored Christian, Pagan and Tibetan Buddhist ideas of death. I researched Near Death Experiences. I read astrophysics and linguistic philosophy. I took Ayahuasca in a ceremony with a shaman. A medium channelled information for me from the Spirit World. I was seeking the answers to a multitude of questions – and I was looking for Tim. Had he dissolved into nothingness or was he still alive in another realm? Do we have one and only one life or are we re-incarnated thousands of times? Does our spirit live on in paradise or only in the hearts and minds of those who loved us? Do souls continue in existence forever or is death an absolute ending and we no longer exist?
Several months after Tim’s death, Jo, his widow, Martin, Tim’s stepfather, and I went to Samye Ling, a Tibetan Buddhist Monastery in Scotland. We were hoping to find some guidance through our grief. While meditating in the temple Martin had a clear message that he must meditate every day. Jo had the message she must take up her art again. I got no message. I wandered out into the Peace Garden sat down heartbroken and alone. Of course there would be no message for me, Tim’s death was utterly inconsolable. Suddenly I heard a voice say, ‘You must write a modern book of the dead.’
I was shocked. I am not prone to hearing disembodied voices and thought that in my grief I must be hallucinating. Besides, I was so lost in heartbreak I was incapable of writing anything let alone about a great subject like death. But I began to write down the vivid dreams I was having, dreams in which I met Tim and we explored his death together.
Our conversations revealed aspects to death unlike anything I had heard or read before. Gradually I came to see that our modern lives are very different from the lives of C12th Lamas in Tibet, rural Indian mystics or mediaeval Cardinals in the Vatican and so we cannot rely only on mediaeval myths or ancient eastern culture to inform us about death. For a start, in our culture we are complex individuals with many aspects; when we die, each aspect experiences our death differently. Some parts may simply dissolve, others may continue to exist in the lives of others, other energies may need to re-incarnate to resolve themselves, other aspects may work through the energy fields of the cosmos in a different way, and so on. A death is as complex as the life that precedes it; we therefore need new understandings of death rooted in our current ideas of human nature and the workings of the universe. In my vivid dreams, Tim and I began to explore what this might be.
One time on my search for my lost Tim, I went to a Spiritualist meeting. The medium gave messages to nearly everyone there, but not to me. I concluded this was not my scene but at the end he called me over. He told me he had a different kind of message for me that was to be given in private. ‘You have a silver box and in it are unpolished diamonds. I am to tell you that these are very important.’ I thought, ‘This is rubbish, I have neither a silver box nor rough diamonds.’ But he continued. ‘There is a young man here but you don’t need me. You and he are in far deeper communication than I could ever be. And you two have a job to do together.’
I had been hoping for some kind of proof that the dream-meetings with Tim were ‘real’, not all in my own head, but this was a consolation of a kind I supposed. I thanked him and went home. Later it struck me. My laptop is silver. Maybe my dreams and various thoughts on death were the unpolished diamonds. Perhaps I could write a book that could be useful for others after all. It did not have to have the answers as, of course, no such a book could be written. How could it? Only a dead person could write one. But dead men don’t write, jump, wear plaid or do anything. I began to write about death, the ultimate journey into the unknown.
It wasn’t always easy. When Tim died I was devastated, shattered into pieces, and each fragment experienced and described his death differently. Some parts spoke of myths, memories and introjections, others of God, spirits and angels, others of energy fields, black holes and dark flow; some parts of me wept at the inconsolable loss while others wondered at the mystery being revealed. I learned we need many languages to talk about death – of course, a life has many dimensions and so does a death. And so does a grief. Time and time again I had to let go of Tim as he was, the Tim that died, in order to find him as he is, the Tim that lived.
In one of the last vivid dreams I was walking along the ridge of a fell. I saw Tim ahead of me and ran towards him, delighted to see him. We strolled arm in arm with birds, butterflies and bees all around us. I was walking with my dead son through a landscape full of life. It occurred to me, Tim had died to the world, but not to life. He was alive in this dream. He was alive in me. He was a living presence even after death because while alive he had loved, struggled, danced, suffered, created and become his own unique self in so many aspects he could not die. Not all of him anyway. Death is only annihilation for those who never lived. Come alive while you are alive and you will be alive in some form or other after you have died. I hadn’t spoken but Tim laughed. ‘You’re getting it, Mum.’
We reach a point where the path forked. One path went down to the left and the other headed further up the fell. Tim stopped and disengaged his arm.
‘This is where we must go our separate ways.’ Tim held my hands in his. ‘It is only for a while. Then we will meet again. Differently.’
About the author:
Anne Geraghty was a Clinical Psychologist and worked with R.D. Laing. http://www.dimensionsofdeath.net/ She wrote for the original Spare Rib and lived in various communes exploring the personal and the political. She then went East to find the spiritual and became a disciple of Osho. She ran a therapy centre in London and workshops on love and relationships all over the world. She is author of In the Dark and Still Moving and How To Make Your Relationship Work. In 2009 her son Tim Guest, author of My Life in Orange, died. She now lives in Cumbria with her husband and their dogs, hens and bees, and works with death and dying. Her book, Death, the Last God: A Modern Book of The Dead is published by O-Books, ISBN: 978-1-78279-709-8 (Paperback) £12.99 $22.95, EISBN: 978-1-78279-708-1 (e-book) £7.99 $13.99.