I’m Stepping Away From Work For A Few Days

“It is a curious thing, the death of a loved one. We all know that our time in this world is limited, and that eventually all of us will end up underneath some sheet, never to wake up. And yet it is always a surprise when it happens to someone we know. It is like walking up the stairs to your bedroom in the dark, and thinking there is one more stair than there is. Your foot falls down, through the air, and there is a sickly moment of dark surprise as you try and readjust the way you thought of things.” 
~ Lemony Snicket

Hi, Lovelies.

Just letting you know that I am stepping away from my blog and my work for a few days and will be back again next Monday.

Yesterday morning we lost a loved one and so I am taking some time out to be with family. It’s one of those times where we need to sit and be with each other and talk about things and drink tea and laugh and cry and re-adjust.

Life is all about these cycles of love and life and loss, and I need to take time to honour this changing season in our lives.

Ben and I thank you for all your love and support,

Nicole ❤ xx

A Short Blog Series on Death and Dying

“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.

raven, crow, dying, death

The Common Raven, by George Hodan. Image from www.almanac.com

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.

death and dying, forest light

Forest Light – Image by Rayma Devins.  Image from www.desktopnexus.com

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.

angels in clouds

Image from www.nastej.ru

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 cauldronsandcupcakes@gmail.com

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

Three Key Strategies for Dealing with Life’s Hardships

Image of ship in a storm from Vintage Everyday

Image of ship in a storm from Vintage Everyday

“And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.”
~ Haruki Murakami

A friend of mine is doing it tough right now. She’s lost her home and is relying on the kindness and largesse of her friends until she gets back on her feet. In the middle of all of that, thinking that she should be counting the blessings still evident in her life, she instead felt momentarily overwhelmed by her situation.

A client of mine  is nursing an adult child who has been reduced to the functionality of an infant through a violent head injury. Her husband died in that same car accident. This all happened right at a time when their last child had left home, and when she and her husband were about to travel. Now she’s grieving and working out where to go next as she cares for a son who will forever be dependent. The strains upon her are enormous.

Both these women are strong and good, and they’re facing really big challenges.

So the last thing they need is to guilt themselves out about not feeling happy and grateful enough in their lives.

Life is hard sometimes. Fact is, no matter how kind others may be, and how much you know you can be grateful for, and how many blessings are in your life – where you are can still suck.

It’s okay for things to not really be okay. If life’s hard, well, that’s just where you are.

If you’re homeless and wanting your own nest, if you now have a child who’ll be forever dependent on you… Who doesn’t get weary when they have no true solitude for themselves, no respite, no retreat that is theirs alone?

If things aren’t going so well for you, I have some advice.

Your job, and mine (as I heal from chronic Lyme), is to accept what is, to do our best to get through any way we can, be honest about the moments when it gets on top of us, to seek help when we need it, and to keep focused on the outcomes we want for ourselves.

Image by Penkdix Palme

Image by Penkdix Palme

Gratitude is an important coping mechanism and life skill. It helps us to focus on the things in life that ARE still good and worthwhile, no matter how hard life may be. If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you’ll know how much I advocate an attitude of gratitude.

The other thing that helps us to cope, and which gives us power is action. For me, as I fight to recover from this wretched illness, it’s to keep on writing, to have enforced rest, to stay in contact through facebook, to keep planning retreats and workshops, to keep taking my drugs, and to constantly remind myself WHY I am doing this.

If your life is not going to plan right now, here’s a three point plan for coping:

  1. Work out an end goal, or at least something to strive for that will get you past the place where you are now. Then keep your eyes firmly on that place instead on the mess you’re in. For me, it’s an end goal of being well, with my Lyme Disease in total remission. For my girlfriend, it’s meaningful work and a home of her own. My client is looking to get a compensation payout to help support her son’s ongoing needs, to employ some help, and eventually to find a home that can accommodate her son for that time when she will no longer be able to meet the demands of caring for him. If you don’t know what you want, this might help you get focused: Making My Life Work For Me
  2. Let yourself honour the feelings of frustration, pain, misery, grief, anger or whatever else comes up for you. You don’t need to dwell in them but you do need to be honest with yourself. Life is what it is. Don’t let yourself feel guilty or weak for acknowledging the difficulties you face, and that this might get you down sometimes. It’s not natural to be 100% positive all the time! You might also find this post helpful: Sad Unicorns – OR Is your New-Age Thinking Positively Unhelpful?
  3. Practice gratitude, even in the place of this current hardship. Life is still filled with everyday kindness, moments of beauty and wonder. When we look for these energies, no matter how small or fleeting, we are tuning ourselves in to an energy that can fill us back up when we’re empty. More on this here: Embracing the Small Things – An Antidote to Despair

Everything changes. That is the only constant in this world. When life gets hard, hold on and do what you’ve got to do to get through. Most importantly, be kind to yourself.

Thinking of you, and sending love ♥ Nicole xx

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