“I’ve been making a list of the things they don’t teach you at school. They don’t teach you how to love somebody. They don’t teach you how to be famous. They don’t teach you how to be rich or how to be poor. They don’t teach you how to walk away from someone you don’t love any longer. They don’t teach you how to know what’s going on in someone else’s mind. They don’t teach you what to say to someone who’s dying. They don’t teach you anything worth knowing.”
~ Neil Gaiman, The Sandman
As a society I don’t think we do death very well. It’s not talked about. We try to pretend that it doesn’t happen, and often, sadly, we try to keep it all behind closed doors – either for ourselves or for a loved one.
I’m no stranger to dying, and I’ve come to know death from a number of perspectives. I’ve had my own prognoses of numbered days several times in the past twenty years. From heart issues to life-threatening infections and multi-organ failure, death and I have looked each other in the eye. I have held the knowledge and the feeling of dying within me as I have struggled to keep living.
I’m still here. But that dark bird still sits on my shoulder, and I have learned to travel with that extra weight and the gifts of perspective that this brings. Among my friends are others who have dark birds of their own. We share a special language without words, because we know – we live with this extra awareness, and we have watched others go before us and leave this world. Once the dark bird has visited you, everything changes.
I’ve come to know dying from having been at the deathbed of over thirty people now, as they’ve made their transition from this life. I’ve talked about death with them as their days diminished from endless to numbered. As they’ve grappled with the news of their impending demise and the knowledge that time has almost run out. I’ve cried with them. And laughed. I’ve talked of living, even as they are dying, and helped them to make plans about the things that mattered most.
As their final hours have arrived I’ve held their hand and stroked their hair and anointed them with oils. I’ve whispered in their ear, and cradled them in my arms and helped them to no longer be afraid. I’ve created a safe space for them and for their loved ones who were with them for this last past of the journey. I’ve witnessed as their last breath left their lungs, as their heart stopped beating, as they moved from life to death, and then beyond.
I’ve helped to plan or even officiate over funerals and memorials. I’ve celebrated the passing of many a loved one, with all of those who were left behind.
The final perspective I have on death is as a psychic. I have watched what happens to a person’s soul and to their energies as they begin the journey of transition. I have witnessed death and spoken to souls in the moments, minutes and hours after their physical end. I have communicated with souls who have long passed from our world. I have connected with the dying via dreams. One precious soul even showed me his passing by sharing those last hours of life and those first moments of death and beyond with me as I supported him via meditation. I have learned so much about the enduring nature of our souls after death, and the power of love to transcend dimensions and boundaries of time and place.
Right now I have a number of friends and clients who are facing the imminent passing of an elderly parent, or a terminally ill child or life partner. There are a couple of friends and clients who have been given their own recent diagnosis of a life-ending condition.
This is the territory of my daily life – providing support in these situations. It’s endless, because it is part of the cycle of life. People who know me well understand that I am always walking with death, and in service to that transitioning, although I may not mention it to those still firmly in the flow of life.
So, in response to a number of recent questions about death and dying, I’ve decided to write a short series of blog posts to help these friends and clients, and any of you who are (or will one day be) in this situation so that you can provide support to your own loved ones, and feel comforted in understanding that the end of life can become a beautiful space, after which the soul simply moves to a different state of existence – and yes, continues to exist. If you are one of those friends with a dark bird on your shoulder we can talk about how to live even as you are dying, and what things you may want to consider, of both a practical and a spiritual nature.
I’ll begin next Wednesday. But before that, if you have any questions that you’d like me to answer in this series, please contact me by leaving a comment below, or emailing them to firstname.lastname@example.org
I would be honoured to help in any way possible.
As always, I am holding you in my thoughts, prayers and meditations, Nicole <3 xx
16 thoughts on “A Short Blog Series on Death and Dying”
Something drew me back to your site today after a long time away. Now I know it was this series! I am very interested in reading your thoughts about death and dying. I have lost many close friends and family over the years, and, I believe, have cheated death myself after surviving some serious health problems. All of which have made me more and more curious about why I’m still here and what I can do to help others. Lately I’ve been thinking about how to get involved with hospice care and volunteering my time with patients. But everything else in my life is a mess right now and I’m a little worried about taking on anything new. Especially something that could be very difficult and undermine my physical and mental health, both of which are hard enough to maintain as it is. On the other hand, there must be a reason that I keep thinking about it. What if this is The Thing That I am Meant To Do??
Hi Nicole, somebody very close to me lost his father unexpectedly this year. His relationship with his father had always been a very difficult one and he hadn’t spoken to his father for almost two years at the time of his death. My friend’s entire world has turned upside down since his father’s death – his father’s death has forced my friend to relive his past while simultaneously being confronted with very difficult relatives & other issues related to the death. I am finding it hard to explain to my friend that after passing over, his father will only be feeling absolute and unconditional love for him, and that my friend has provided an enormous gift to his father (he has allowed his father’s soul to grow and evolve) I know that if my friend can understand this then he’ll gain a great deal of comfort. I have dealt with death in my lifetime but find these circumstances very different. I am used to supporting people in their grief when there isn’t resentment and bitter disappointment attached to the death. How do I support my friend in dealing with the passing of his Dad when he is processing so much more than just loss? Thank you so much for writing this series of blogs.
This has come at a very good time for me. I do carry that black bird on my shoulder, from many losses. Now I need to teach my daughter, how to get it through it. Bring on Wednesday. xx
Oh I am so excited to hear what you have for us on this most special topic! And I must admit that the last photo got a laugh out of me….pushing up daisies 🙂 I can’t wait until Wednesday!
Ha! I only just realised that unintended pun. Made me laugh too. Gorgeous 🙂
This is very timely, Nicole, and I too look forward to reading what you have to share with us xx
Thank you Nicole. I can’t wait to read all you have to say about death. I’m actually never afraid of dying. I am afraid of the sadness I will feel when someone dies. I’m afraid of grieving. I’m grieving a friendship now and it hurts like hell so how would I be able to grieve a dead one? I’m grieving a friend who is still here while sending her as much love as i can
Dearest Nicole , phew . You are beyond amazing . Thank you thank you for the wisdom and love you share with us . I love your posts and always pick up some nuggests of gold from them .
This is a wow factor blog Nicole . This is usually what I turn away from because I consider myself weak . But do you know , l really trust you and am going come along for the ride . An understanding and acceptance is what we all need, when it comes to the inevitable and I would rather listen to your explanation than any other .
I’m sorry my words are raw I am sadly not an educated woman but l write the only way I know how . Instead of running away I look forward to your blog Nicole …I thank you .
ohhh my most favoured topics… for it teaches us life..
My mum passed away in mid September, and I believe she was at peace when she died – although I wasn’t there. It’s certainly a taboo subject here in the western world where ‘passed’ seems to be more acceptable to ‘died’. I don’t have a specific question, but will be an interesting topic to talk about. After all, we are all going to do it one day – the one certainty in life. xxx
what a good topic to write about! thanks sx
Thanks Nicole – I would love to hear your insights and perspective.
We are so blessed to have you among us Nicole. As someone who’s recently lost a mother and still grappling with so many issues of my own of the bigger picture I’m looking forward to reading your posts and thoughts on death and life after. Much love and warmest wishes to you. xo
I look forward to reading your thoughts on this subject. I have been blessed over the years with reasonably good health, but have seen that dark bird more than once in my life time with my family and friends. I just turned 80 this past October and know my days are numbered, but I talk openly about death with anyone that wants to listen, I am not afraid. Death is a natural happening in life. I guess you could say I am a very practical person, no one lives forever. I love your blog, you have a way with words and your insight into life and the way you have handled yours is remarkable. Sending you love & hugs always. Betty