by Jane Keep, UK
In the last few days a close relative of mine has passed over. Something that struck me in these last few weeks is how scared she was of dying. In talking this through with a wise practitioner I got to feel how strange it is that in many parts of the globe, talking about dying openly and preparing people for passing over is not naturally done. Yes, there are many amazing nurses, doctors and carers who are experienced in supporting people who pass over, but generally in society in my recent experience, a lot of people are uneasy talking about it, and we don’t educate people about the process of dying.
I realise that although people die in many different ways, some form of simple, clear education could help people prepare for their own passing over, and to understand the passing over of their relatives or friends as and when this occurs. And just as we openly discuss births, and the physical body’s process of birth (even to the extent that I remember in school being shown a video of a woman giving birth), we could also openly discuss death and dying.
What I am now wondering is –
What if part of everyone’s schooling, education, and upbringing included learning about the cycles of life, and death, and how natural they are, and to offer education for everyone about dying, and what naturally happens to the body as it prepares to pass over?
What if over dinner at home, or during a cup of tea with a friend, it was quite natural to talk about dying just as it is natural to talk about a new baby, or about moving home?
What if we knew of someone who was close to passing over, or was terminally ill, and instead of tip-toeing in our conversations with them, we just talked about the process of dying as naturally as talking about what we had for our breakfast?
What if we truly, joyfully celebrated with those who were due to pass over with a few loving words and a true light-ness and playfulness? Celebrating their life and honouring them in death?
Of course everyone deals with death differently and the prospect of someone close to us dying brings up a range of feelings and can be a very emotionally challenging and distressing time. I wonder if in having more open conversations about death we could also discuss our grief around death with more clarity also? Would it also mean that we viewed death differently? Would it mean people who were dying would experience the process of dying differently?
As my close relative surrendered into those final hours, there was a sense of grace with her as she passed over. However I feel she may have found the experience in the months leading up to her passing over quite different if she, and our friends and relatives had been able to share our feelings more openly about how we felt about death and dying during that time. A conversation that was graceful, natural and open for us all to express our feelings. A conversation that was celebratory of her life and at the same time one that recognised the natural end of a cycle.