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thoughts on death and dying

Posted: August 20, 2011

How do we deal with death? Some of us believe in life after death, some don't. I had a sad conversation with a dear friend yesterday. He told me that he is severely ill and per his doctors he has a maximum of two years to live. The illness is very aggressive, there is no known cure currently available. My friend told me that he is at peace and that he accepts what is happening and he lives his life day by day. What matters to him, he said, is that he has something to look forward to tomorrow and that is all. Starting over every day. He was happy that we were spending time together sitting on his deck sipping wine, having a simple wholesome dinner and a loving conversation, watching the creek below, a pair of coyotes resting in the meadow. He is looking forward to tomorrow to see his dogs being happy and taken care of. But he also spoke about not believing in an afterlife. Our opinions differed on that subject. I have faith that nothing is permanent, not even death and that we will be reborn and it gives me peace. I spoke to him about a dream I had recently where we both were pure energy, pure consciousness, dancing together in the universe. Our energies that were pure love intermingling. There was neither male nor female, no time or matter. I told him that I will meet him there. It was a comfort to me. It is hard to be faced with the reality of the death of a loved one. How do we start over with that person gone? But more importantly how do we proceed and/or start over with this relationship right now?

What I realized through this conversation with my friend was that I did not know what to say and that in turn made me really listen. It seemed that was what he most needed. Of course it is difficult to talk and hear about the looming death of someone close but we need to give that person the space to express themselves fully without interrupting, without putting our emotions on display right there. There will be another time for it but right that moment I sensed all he needed was someone who would be totally present for him, who would just empathetically hold space for him. We are starting over, re-defining our relationship right now that is the essential part. What is important, what isn't? Being there for each other and once again enjoying the present moment, being mindful about every little detail, using our time together wisely - starting over.

I lost another dear friend several years ago where I was not as fortunate to spending more time with her. There were always other things to do, work, commitments, the distance on my part. Doctor's visits, hospital stays, visits with her family on her side. We kept putting off the days we had planned on spending together, thinking there was much more time. But there was not, she died quickly, sooner than anticipated. I remember being on a hike very early in the morning and suddenly could feel her presence around me. It was as eerie as it was special and I knew right that moment that she had passed. When I got home I had an email from a nurse friend of ours that Jean indeed had died that same morning. Starting over meant missing my hiking/snow shoeing buddy, my friend who I went rafting with and enjoyed strolling through art galleries and wine fests. She and I had met in school going through the Holistic Health Certification together. We spent many very close moments sharing our experiences. I miss her still, although it's been 3 years now.It was a learning experience I will not forget and this time with my friend it will be different. Other things can wait, our friendship and being there for each other is precious and the most important right now.

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