“Acceptance looks like a passive state, but in reality, it brings something entirely new into this world. That peace, a subtle energy vibration, is consciousness.”
– Eckhart Tolle
I refer to Eckhart Tolle’s quote because sometimes we may judge the notion of living consciously, as a “Woo-Woo California type of thing”. We may pass it off as something unimportant to our daily living, (and dying, for that matter), but BEing conscious of living and dying can’t be further from the truth, as Eckhart explains. It leads us to a sense of peace, and ultimately, isn’t that what we all strive for? Conscious living is the flip side of conscious dying, and equally as important, because we can’t have a conscious dying experience if we are not consciously living.
Although it may not be part of our daily thoughts, we know that we are all going to die one day, but we don’t consciously think about it. In fact, many people don’t want to think about it at all. Knowing “when” that day will arrive remains one of life’s profound mysteries. However, many individuals who are either caretakers of a loved one or individuals who have been diagnosed as terminal, are choosing to consult a Transition Practitioner/End of Life Consultant/Death Midwife, who is conscious of the specific issues that affect these two groups, and who is experienced with the various phases of illnesses leading to death, as well as all the related matters to these phases.
People are reaching out more and more for workshops or seeking a Transition Practitioner to learn more about how to deal with and consciously navigate through a loved one’s terminal illness. And, they offer meaningful help directly with a dying individual to come to terms on what to do. This Transition Practitioner/End of Life Consultant/Death Midwife offers a gentle bridging of the gap between shifting the dying process from a morbid experience to a sacred and beautiful one, with the conscious intention of creating an ambiance of peace and calm for the dying individual and their loved ones.
We’ve talked about the word conscious and have given you definitions in other articles on consciousness. Let’s review the definition as an adjective: aware of and responding to one’s own sensations, thoughts, and surroundings; someone who is awake: having knowledge of something. For our purposes here, I’m adding an additional definition as one who is being deliberate and intentional.
The following are some thoughts that I’d like to share with you regarding living consciously through a dying experience. Perhaps you may consider and even adopt some of these thoughts to enrich your path so as to create a less morbid experience of your own final days or the final days of your loved one.
We treat birth as a joyous and even sacred event. We bring in practitioners and midwives who hold the space for a new spirit to be received “into” the life of a baby and we do so with open arms and loving hearts in celebration. Viewing death in this same sacred, special way, allows space for a loving celebration of that individual’s spirit, which is being escorted “out,” and offers opportunities for blessings to the loved ones who are sharing that experience. This process can make for final healings that are immeasurable in peace and love bringing a sense of natural closure.
In being conscious of living and dying one can focus on the desired “kind” of experience that someone who is dying may want to have for themselves. It empowers loved ones to BE present during this special time and allows for them to hold the space for the experience to be exquisite in nature. Being conscious of living and dying stewards also healthy people, planning their eminent dying experience and covers funeral event planning, as well. You may have heard of individuals who want a big party at their funeral instead of a gathering of sad individuals dressed in black, constantly dabbing away tears, and talking in whispers. Each one has their own unique ideas of what they would like before and what they’d like for their loved ones after they pass. All of them are guides for loved ones to know what to do and how to do it.
In our society, we are generally quick to use the word “death” in jest. We often say, “I’m dying to get a reservation to that new restaurant,” or “You’re going to die when you hear this,” or “I almost died when I heard that her boyfriend was once my aunt’s…”. We use the “d” word rather casually in our conversations, and yet when we are faced with the reality of our own death or the death of someone we love, we feel riddled with fear, and cringe at using the words “death” or “dying”.
Living consciously helps alleviate the fear factor, showing the path of how to replace it with a deep sense of peace and acceptance, resulting in a healing experience that feels “complete”.
Conscious Transition Practitioners/End of Life Consultants/Death Midwives for you, the Dying Person
I previously mentioned that for people who are dying, Transition Practitioners/End of Life Consultants/Death Midwives help identify what kind of dying experience they truly want to have. When it comes to you, yourself, perhaps you never thought or imagined you could experience dying in any particular way. You are not alone. Most people do not even think about this until they are diagnosed with a terminal illness.
Conscious living and dying guidance help to consciously create what you want and make unique every step of the way. In my consulting and teachings at the Soul Diving Institute, we explore how to create the participant’s ultimate journey that each feels would soothe their soul and free their spirit. If you could have it any way you wanted, what would that look like for you? Would you like to listen to your favorite music? Would you like to breathe in your favorite smells? How about watching videos of celebrations from your life with all your family and friends? A gathering of your favorite people and loved ones around you before you go will make you feel very loved, that your life mattered…it’s about celebrating you, and honoring you just because you have always been just You!
It’s never easy to find out that you or your loved one has been diagnosed as terminal and is the process of dying. We’re never quite prepared for the experience, so how do you handle it? Are you afraid to speak to that person, or you don’t know what to say? Do you hold back your emotions, and does any laughter seems inappropriate and disrespectful? Are you accepting of what is going on? Are you still stuck in your negative family dynamics instead of setting an intention for healing and love to take place?
Awakening a Daily Guide to Conscious Living for Families and Loved Ones of a Dying Person
Living consciously and being conscious of dying helps you not only cope with your loved one dying, it gives you meaningful and productive things to “do” during that time. You can create a daily guide to conscious living for your entire family and community of friends that are gathering around your dying loved one. With your Transition Practitioner/End of Life Consultant/Death Midwife, you are able to explore ways to make the dying experience as meaningful and beautiful, as it can be. You also deal with how to handle in a guilt-free way the more serious matters, like the sadness, the pain, the fatigue you feel, and taking some alone time to re-energize.
There are those of you who make it a point to plan out your future, including your own funeral so that your family does not have to worry or think about these kinds of details in such a vulnerable, emotional time. You create living trusts and wills and medical advance directives. You prepay the funeral arrangements, from the mortuary to the cemetery. You have everything taken care of. This is not only fabulous planning but relieves your family and loved ones from worry and will them focus on their experience with you in such an emotional time, rather than having to make decisions. This is one of the biggest gifts one can leave their loved ones – a detailed road map of everything they’ll need to do once their eyes close forever.
You don’t have to have a terminal illness to plan your funeral, so consider approaching your own dying experience by making a list of what you would want during that crucial time. We begin by understanding how important it is to bring the notion of “conscious dying” into the mainstream open conversation with your loved ones. Even if you’re healthy and have a long life ahead of you, you may still want to plan that transition experience consciously.
Here are a few of some of the other things that you can discuss together with your Transition Practitioner/End of Life Consultant/Death Midwife in a guided manner:
- The people whom you want to surround you
- The objects you want to have in your room, and perhaps even buried with you
- The photographs of people you love
- The aromas you want to smell
- Exploring and designing a way to achieve your sense of peace in the face of death
- Writing a Spiritual Advance Directive that spells out everything from A to Z
- Understanding the phases of the dying process and what conscious dying actually means
- What you choose to do during the time you have left, and have that be made known to your loved ones
How would you Be with a Transition Practitioner, End of Life Consultant, or Death Midwife?
Because the end of life field is burgeoning, many new titles are being created to describe what these professionals do to consciously assist families and individuals through the dying experience. I have mentioned Transition Practitioners, End of Life Consultants and Death Midwives. These people are also known as Death Consultants, End of Life Guides and Coaches, along with other titles that describe their services. Whatever title is being used, they are all galvanized around the same concept, and that is to guide you and your loved ones through the dying experience, with as much grace, honor, dignity, and regard as possible.
However, how do you know if your loved one is even conscious of what they want? Most people aren’t aware of what is possible to experience, because traditionally, we have not talked about death and dying openly in our society. The trend is changing, undoubtedly, but it will take time for people to release any conditioning by society’s views on death which may be limited.
The most important thing is to ask questions open-heartedly and lovingly. Questions about their (or your own) beliefs and they’re (or your own) ideas of what the dying experience is to them, and what rituals they (or you) may find soothing. That’s where the Spiritual Advanced Directive comes in handy.
Let’s say that you or your loved one wants to have a conscious dying experience. An in-person conversation with the Transition Practitioner/ End of Life Consultant or Death Midwife is the best way for you to see and feel the level of comfort you have with that particular professional. It is very important that you TRUST that person implicitly without question. This is the most vulnerable time in your life or the life of your loved one, so to have someone you can trust is crucial to the quality and healing of the experience.
You may want to pay particular attention so that your views, opinions, and desires are not guided in another direction whereby you would be encouraged to “settle” for less than what you want.
Some of the ground that will need to be covered would do well to be all-encompassing.
For instance, holding a celebratory meal, and telling your loved ones all of the possible things they could do during specific circumstances:
If dying at home:
- Make sure you have a caretaker 24/7 if and when needed
- Learn the best way to work with Hospice
If dying in hospital/nursing home:
- Choose a skilled nursing facility/hospital, where the staff is of a kind and gentle demeanor
- Clear with the facility the use of music, etc.
In either case, you can:
- Create a video of life with family and friends
- Create a photo album/collage so they can look at it over and over
- Create a music CD of favorite music to soothe their experience
- Set the ambiance using aromatherapy, lighting, objects, music, guided visualizations
Funeral planning with your family
- Make sure the mortuary and cemetery are taken care of and paid for PRIOR
- If the person is in the military, arrange for an honor guard
- Play the video with music at the funeral, if possible, if not, play it at the reception
- Make sure the caterer is taken care of and all the related details
- Make sure you have expert guidance in listing all the details BEFORE the time.
The Transition Practitioner/End of Life Consultant/Death Midwife would also talk about and guide any family healing process, first asking if there are any wounds that need to be healed. The work with then consist of achieving a sense of completion with their dying loved one.
What a Transition Practitioner/End of Life Consultant/Death Midwife can consciously offer that someone can’t get from Hospice
Firstly, Transition Practitioners/End of Life Consultants/Death Midwives consciously strive to achieve a peaceful and loving spiritual perspective on the dying experience for everyone involved. (Hospice provides comfort care for the physical and emotional aspects of the experience, taking care of all the medical details, as well as provide a Chaplain.) The Transition Practitioner/End of Life Consultant/Death Midwife works with Hospice and provides guidance in a different way, such as guided visualizations, helping to create videos, collages, and possibly preparing “the gathering” of people before the funeral.
Everyone who wants to be involved will get a list of things they are going to handle before and after the death. There will be follow up calls that need to be made, supporting the family. These calls are not grieving support calls, but ones that further encourages the healing that occurred from the conscious dying experience itself.
My approach in my conscious dying workshops and training comes from a deep love and desire to help others gently pass through this life into the “unknown” quantum soup from which we are all made in a peaceful way, feeling blessed and full of a life well lived. It is my deepest honor to teach and serve people in helping them transition from this life, as we know it, to another realm of reality that is not so known. What is important here is to free the spirit, so that it may leave in a conscious light, healing its way through the fibers of life, leaving behind a sense of completion, love, honor, and dignity.
Experiencing someone we love who is dying can be heartbreaking. Consciously shifting what could be the most awful experience in our lives into the most beautiful experience is priceless. Being able to experience a deep healing before we die or before someone we love dies, is probably the greatest gift we could possibly receive. Feeling loved, feeling full, and feeling blessed before we “go” are such profound blessings for everyone involved.
Learning how to consciously hold that space to truly be present for the evolution of one’s soul is the ultimate in transitions. Bringing consciousness into our own death experience makes a huge difference in what happens in those last months, weeks, days, and especially moments. When we are able to talk about death in our everyday lives, consciously, without the patterned fear attached, it is a testament that we have empowered ourselves in such a way, that we are actually able to live more consciously than ever before, because we have gained a new perspective on the experience, one that fulfills the soul.
Attending conscious life and death transitions workshops and training open up the mind to the possibilities of experiencing something new… something deep and wonderful… something that raises the consciousness of not only the dying experience but the living one. These workshops provide meaningful learnings about conscious life and death transitions, embracing the most natural part of living, and offer learnings about dying with great regard. Consultative coaching conscious life and death transitions is a humbling role, guiding and ushering with honor the last gesture of the spirit leaving the body in such a way that it becomes sacred unto itself.
Just thinking that conscious living and dying will one day be such an expected sacred experience that not only everyone can have, but everyone will want. More new rituals and products will be created and even invented. Documentaries are already being made following families experiencing their healings during this most precious time.
Living consciously by introducing conscious dying concepts truly deepens the quality of one’s life in a way that is life changing, which reflect on changing the end of life experience, one that is profound and a privilege to be witness to with the heart and soul holding the utmost regard for the ultimate human experience of death.
It’s your life. Enjoy the journey. And remember to bring love into everything you do.