Conversations About Dying – We Need To Have Them!

“When the time comes to die, make sure that all you have to do is die!”
~ Jim Elliot

“Everybody will die, but very few people want to be reminded of that fact.”
~ Lemony Snicket

 

This post is the next in my Wednesday series on Death and Dying…

 

Last year a good friend of mine died.

She died from breast cancer – a cancer she decided to treat naturally. A cancer that completely ravaged her body in less than two years while using those natural treatments. (And no, we are not going to discuss cancer and cancer treatments today.)

My friend avoided seeing me for months and months after she first detected the small lump in her breast. Why? She was frightened of what I might see psychically, and what I might tell her. She knew I would tell her to see a doctor, and to get additional information and ideas about possible treatment plans. So instead we kept never being able to make our calendars meet, even though we lived so close to each other.

But I knew there was something wrong. Very wrong.

Finally her husband rang one day and asked if we could come over.

I was so shocked when I walked through the front door. Here was my friend, suddenly an emaciated old woman. She smelt of death. I could see cancer throughout her body. I packed my shock away. My friend shuffled towards me for a hug and I saw it, a massive fungating tumor where her breast had been – so large that it was preventing her arm from moving naturally. Her arms and legs were swollen from lymphedema.

I hugged her gently, and she burst into tears.

Can you help me? my friend asked. I need some help.

As her husband made us a cup of tea I followed her to the lounge, where they had set up a bed for her.

You’ve defied the odds, my friend said. You’re still here and you should be dead. What else do I have to do to get better?

She then gave me the long list of everything they were doing. The infusions and diets and injections and colonics and green juices and superfoods and anti-cancer foods and no sugar and oxygen therapy and bicarb and turmeric and every other thing. Such a long list of things. Such a stressful thing, this list, with its military precision timing and increased severity as my friend’s condition worsened. They were having trouble coping with administering the regime. And now my friend couldn’t breathe if she lay down. What else could they do? There must be something else they could do? She couldn’t control her thoughts. She couldn’t stay positive. Could I help her meditate? Maybe that would sort her mind out?

I held my friend’s hand and our husbands brought tea for us and then disappeared out into the garden.

I found some lavender essential oil in my handbag and gently applied some to her swollen feet and hands, and showed her how to breathe it in. Then I talked her through a meditation as she sat in her chair, propped on soft pillows. Mercifully, somewhere in the middle of all of that my friend fell asleep.

I took my tea out into the garden, and told my friend’s husband that his wife was sleeping. He burst into tears.

Will she be okay? he asked me.

You already know the answer to that, I said. She’s dying. She needs medical care.

Can you tell her? he asked me.

Yes, I said. I’ll be back tomorrow.

Artwork by Daryl Zang

Artwork by Daryl Zang

The next day I sat on my friend’s bed and we talked about dying.

These are conversations I have had to have with my own husband many times during my illness. We’ve come to realise that they are conversations we all need to have, whether we are ill or not.

My friend and I talked about the possibility that she might die.

We talked about how to manage her care and her pain.

These were long, hard conversations with many tears.

We talked about wills. Did she have one? What did she want to happen if she could no longer make medical or other decisions for herself?

Our husbands joined us and we talked some more. We talked about all the things which were suddenly hard to talk about because they had become so real and so close.

We talked about her wishes, and the need for a plan.

Just a few days later my friend was admitted to a palliative care unit. She remained there until her death six weeks later. Until a few days before her death she had truly thought that she would get better enough to be able to go home and keep fighting.

In that whole time not one medical practitioner told my friend that she was dying. They told her only that she had stage four metastatic breast cancer.

I spent much of those last weeks with her, for short visits. For some of that time I was in hospital too and we would text madly, and talk when we could. We laughed a lot. We cried a lot.

The thing that broke me heart was an incident two weeks before she died.

I came to see her just after morning tea and she burst into tears. She felt so guilty, she said. The morning tea trolley had come around and she’d had the most delicious pumpkin scone with jam and cream. All that sugar. All that dairy. All that wheat. All the things she had been depriving herself of as she continued her green juices and superfoods that her husband brought up to the ward each day. She’d eaten cancer foods.

Darling, you’re dying, I said as I hugged her and wiped away her tears. One scone won’t make any difference. What matters was that it was delicious! Take pleasure from that. Then I went down to the canteen and fetched us both an excellent coffee and a chocolate brownie that was so good and we devoured them and laughed and for a moment we were two old friends who could have been anywhere.

Image from North End Coffee Roasters at Foursquare

Image from North End Coffee Roasters at Foursquare

Am I really dying, my friend asked me when our coffees were done.

Yes.

She burst into tears and sobbed into my arms all of the regrets she had. That she would never get to travel. That she wouldn’t go home. That she never tried the new Thai restaurant, and we never had our beach picnic with the dogs. So many regrets. So many thing she would have done differently if she’d realised that her time was so limited. If only someone had been honest with her. She thought there was still time.

And she confessed that she’d known the natural treatments weren’t working a year ago, but her husband had been so committed to them, and she was a naturopath and dietician so she felt it was her duty to keep going. Now she knew she’d made the wrong choice. She hadn’t honoured her intuition. And that choice had shortened her life and put her on a terrible path of suffering.

The little chemo she had been given palliatively had shrunk her masses and given her a better level of comfort. But it was too late.

I could barely talk that night for the pain of it all.

When my friend died she went downhill suddenly. She and her husband hadn’t talked with doctors about what might happen. There was no plan. Things were managed quite badly for her.

My husband and I got back to the hospital in time and I helped her to have a peaceful transition. Her death became a beautiful one.

But she died without a will. Without instructions. And it took her husband painful months to sort it all out after she was gone.

We don’t know when we will die. We don’t know if we will die unexpectedly and quickly, or if we will have time to prepare.

The only thing we know for sure is that one day we will.

Please talk with your friends and family. Do you want to be an organ donor? Are there situations where you would prefer that medical staff did not fight to save your life? What other instructions would you have if someone else was suddenly making the decisions for you?

Is there a point in trying where you might want to stop treatments?

Would you go into care? What would need to change if you ended up with a disability or chronic illness? Or a terminal one?

Funeral? Do you want one? Buried or cremated? Donated to science? Scattered at sea or the family plot?

Do you have a will in place, or at least have your wishes known to your family and friends? Is there a plan for your home, your children, your car, your possessions, your pets, your finances?

What matters to you in life? Are you living that life right now or are you putting all of these important things off to some mythical time in the future that may never come?

Death is a part of life. Let’s start having those conversations. One day you might be very glad that you did.

 

Suicides and Sudden Deaths – Perspectives From My Experience as a Psychic

Image from www.radiomonash.net

Image from www.radiomonash.net

“Did you really want to die?”
“No one commits suicide because they want to die.”
“Then why do they do it?”
“Because they want to stop the pain.”
~ Tiffanie DeBartolo

 

The morning I am blogging about suicide comes directly after the night where I have been awake for most of it, messaging and then skyping with a suicidal client.

It comes directly after the news that another person in one of my Lyme support groups has taken their own life.

It comes two days after a very ill friend died, in a way that could technically be viewed as assisted suicide. She had been in great pain, and was in palliative care. The morphine given to her in increased doses relieved her pain but depressed her respiration and slowed her heart rate, speeding her death. All of us were relieved that there was no pain or suffering in her final hours.

Suicide, and thoughts of suicide, are common in our society. I’m grateful that we are starting to have more of an open dialogue around this. As a psychic I have been witness to perspectives on suicide that most people don’t have. I’d like to share these perspectives with you, in the hope that you will begin to see suicide differently.

 

Suicide is defined as the voluntary and intentional taking of one’s own life. I have seen four circumstances that I define as suicide (*note that this classification is my own):

  1. Being in a situation where help is (or is perceived to be) unavailable and the escalating pain, illness (mental or physical) and lack of control make ending a life seem to be the only viable option. This situation, arising out of desperation, exhaustion, disconnection or other intense negative emotional states is the most common form of suicide that I have encountered. It is also the one most regretted by those who take action to end their lives.
  2. The deliberate sacrificing of one’s life for a greater purpose or higher ideal. The primary motivation behind this type of rare act is love, and it is usually a spur-of-moment choice. I do not include martyrdoms for ideological causes (such as suicide bombings) in this category. Instead think of the parent who risks and loses their life to save their child. The spouse whose last act in a car accident is to position the car so that their partner is spared the worst of the impact.
  3. The assisted and hastened death of someone who is already dying and whose life has run its course.
  4. The deliberate ending of a life where that life’s parameters are non-negotiable, non-changeable and no longer acceptable to the person living that life. That person is not in the same situation as the first circumstance I discussed. The decisions made here come from a place of clarity and peace, rather than from heightened emotional distress or disturbed thinking.

Suicide is, in so many ways, a complex issue.

There is much to say about this topic, and it has raised so many questions from you, my dear readers, that I am going to break this subject down into more posts over the coming Wednesdays. I’ll examine each type of suicide, and I’ll also look at accidental and sudden deaths, and how these impact the soul, as well as those left behind.

Be aware that in the overwhelming majority of suicides there is a realisation of deep regret at their actions in the moments before and after death –  when they understand that it was truly not what they wanted to do, that they have made a terrible mistake but that it is now too late to change this sudden ending of their precious life.

And of course the fallout for loved ones left behind after suicide is often immense, life-altering and devastating.

No matter what the circumstance of the suicide I can render the truth of it down to this. After death, ultimately, a soul returns to love.

Wherever you are this week, and whatever head space you are in, know that you matter to me, and that you are in my thoughts, meditations and prayers.

Be kind to yourself. Reach out to others. Live from compassion. Life is messy and sometimes hard, but we’re all in it together.

All my love, Nicole xx

 

Need Help To Cope?

The following links provide support for those who are suicidal or bereaved by suicide:

Australia List of links and contact numbers here

 

International Support 

Wikipedia has a great list of international support services here

Suicide.org also lists support services for all corners of the globe here

 

Supporting Your Loved One at the End Stage of Life

“And then we ease him out of that worn-out body with a kiss, and he’s gone like a whisper, the easiest breath.”
~ Mark Doty

 

Welcome to the second post in my Wednesday series on death and dying.

Today I’d like to talk about the end stage of life, and what you might expect as a loved one or carer. Death is something we have become less familiar with in our modern, western world. Most of us are quite removed from the process of dying, and of being with the dead after death has occurred.

I’ve been privileged to sit with and support over thirty people now as they transitioned from this world and this has taught me a great deal about the process of the letting go of our physical bodies.

I have learned that we each die in our own way, and in our own time. Someone who dies quickly, as a result of an accident or sudden illness will have a different journey to someone who is dying slowly – such as might happen with a terminal illness or old age.
The only thing that’s ever important is to help the dying person to be as comfortable as possible, to touch and reassure them, and to be with them. Love and care is what matters.
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The physical aspects of dying:
As a person enters this last stage they gradually begin to withdraw from the activities of daily life, even things that once held interest for them. They begin to sleep more. Conversation often becomes taxing. Appetite decreases and then leaves. There is simply less energy as the body begins to slow down and then shut down. They will become less responsive to your touch. Less responsive to your voice. Even in the middle of all of this the dying person may rally and be more ‘with it’ for periods of time. They may engage with you, or regain a little appetite. These windows of clarity and strength are quite normal. But they are windows. Please do not raise your hopes that this is a sign of some dramatic turn-around.
I have seen a woman who had been unresponsive for days suddenly become alert and sit up in bed for a final conversation with her brother, who had travelled for two days from across the globe to be at her bedside. She died shortly after, peacefully and easily.
The morning before my grandmother Marga’s death she was suddenly hungry, after days with little or no food or liquid. She ate one last meal of a few small mouthfuls of soft food – a soup, a little of some lamb roast and vegetables, followed by stewed apple and custard. She enjoyed it immensely, telling us over and over again that it was good. Food had always been one of my grandmother’s great pleasures. Then she talked with my mother and sister and I for an hour or so, breathless and fragile as she was, to tell us that she was surprised to still be ‘here’ and alive. She had been sure she was ‘almost gone’. A day later, she was.
As a person moves towards death their digestion closes down, swallowing becomes difficult, bowel and bladder function changes and slows (there can be loss of bowel and bladder function), and eventually they will only want just a sip of water, or a sponge soaked in a soothing liquid to moisten the mouth and lips. You can also use a balm to keep the lips moist. The body no longer needs nourishment. This is normal, and part of the withdrawal process.
The eyes become heavy lidded, or may stay half-open. The mouth might gape open too. Everything is relaxing and letting go. Your loved one’s skin tone will change. They may become mottled. They may become more pale, more ashen, more waxen. They may become momentarily hotter, or colder. Their skin may feel much cooler to the touch. Your loved one may look much less like themselves.
Closer to death the breathing becomes laboured and the mucous thickens, which can create congestion in the airways or mouth. Breathing can become noisy, and a rattling noise is quite common. This is often referred to as the death rattle, and is an indication that the end of life is very near. Breathing will become erratic, until a breath is taken only every so often. Eventually breathing will cease. This can take some time. It is not painful for the dying person, but it may sound scary or distressing to friends and family who have not been with a dying person before.
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On a metaphysical level:
 As your loved one moves closer to dying they move in and out of a place where they can feel, see, hear and connect with souls who have already crossed over. This is a very comforting and reassuring space. I have heard some doctors and nurses pass this phenomena off as ‘hallucinations’, but as a psychic, I know this is not true. (More information on this, and on people with dementia and alzheimers here.)
Some people use the end of their life, over weeks or days, as a time of review. In their dreams, in their mind, in their inner journey they go back to people and places long since gone, to make sense of what has happened, or to make peace with what has gone before. While they are doing this they will seem to be sleeping most of the time, or rambling in their thoughts and words. Please support and love them as they journey. Don’t try to criticize, correct or judge them, or tell them that what they are experiencing isn’t real. For them it is, and it is an important and healing part of their journey.
The act of death itself is simply a shedding of the skin, and a return to another way of existing. The act of dying and the transition back to being ‘a soul’ is always, in the end, a joyful and love-filled one.
Metaphysically you can help by sending love and light to the dying person. Feel the love move from your heart to theirs. Surround them with white light, or whatever other colour feels good to you. You can also call upon God (or whatever you know that energy as), your loved one’s guides, angels and others who have already crossed over (such as family members or friends) – to come and support and guide your loved one for this final part of their journey. Tell them that it’s okay, and that they can go whenever they are ready. Remind them of the great love that is here on earth for them, and that will greet them where they are going next.
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What can you do to support your loved one?

Simply, just be with them. Hold their hand, sit in their space, touch them and let them feel you near them. You might want to stroke their hair, or press a cool, damp cloth to their forehead and arms. Moisten their mouth for them. Rearrange their pillows. You might want to massage some cream into their skin or brush their hair. 

Talk with them, even if you think they can’t hear you. They can. Please keep talking when it feels right –  even when someone is in their final hours and are non-responsive they hear you. Speak quietly and soothingly. No abrupt noises or movements, and keep the room lighting soft so that the person doesn’t startle.

It’s okay to cry and show emotion. It’s also very normal to laugh and to reminisce. There is often no need for words at all.

Do tell your loved one that you love them. Let them know you are there. Let them know you care.

If it feels right to talk, share some happy memories. Talk about things you have shared together over the years. Tell them about the things you learned from them. What have they passed on to you? Why are you a better person because of them? What can you acknowledge about them that you respect or admire?

Tell them about yourself. Share your life. If there are issues between you say what needs to be said with a spirit of forgiveness and kindness.

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Even when we have had a difficult relationship with someone it helps both people to be able to find something that you can share which helps the dying person to feel that their life had purpose and that somehow, in some small way they were loved, made a difference or were noticed in a positive way. We all need to know that we matter.

It’s also enough just to be in their space, just to sit with them, just to be by their side. Read a book, curl up beside them, it doesn’t matter what you do – it matters that you are there.

It’s okay to say goodbye. Whether yours will be a short visit, or a long period of support, saying goodbye is a soothing and healing thing to do, for both of you, no matter how hard that goodbye might be.

Let your loved one know that it’s okay for them to go. Reassure them. Sometimes they will linger, hanging on for you. I’ve seen many a person pass after their loved ones have left the room. It’s okay to let your loved one know that you are leaving the room. It might be what they need to finally let go.

Above all, ensure that your loved one is comfortable. There is no need for anyone to be in pain, and there are so many options to help you and your loved one manage this final transition so that dying and death are pain-free.

Make sure you look after yourself in all of this too. Take a break if you need one. Ask for help. Call on doctors, nurses and care-givers. Step away when it gets too much. Remember to eat, and to get enough sleep.

If you would like to use essential oils, I have found Young Living’s Peace and Calming soothing for everyone in the room. Place a drop on the back of the hands or the inside of the wrists of your loved one, and a drop on the chest or the back of the neck. A little on the edge of the ear is good too. If you don’t have this oil Lavender essential oil will do nicely.

If there is distress in your loved one (or yourself) use Lavender and Frankincense. Apply a drop of each of these at the wrists, temples, back of neck, throat, heart, and soles of feet.

Yes, you can use all three of these oils together.

Use these oils hourly, or follow your intuition. They can truly transform a situation, and help bring peace and comfort at what can be an emotional and difficult time for everyone in the room. I used this combination when my friend Angela passed over last year, and the difference they made – for Ange, for her loved ones, and for the nursing staff – was truly remarkable.

The combination of Lavender and Frankincense also helps the soul to let go.

gardenia2

 

I truly believe that death is not the end of our being.  I know that love endures. I am looking forward to sharing more of what I know of this journey, and I’m sure you will find it comforting.

Thanks for reading. Next week I’ll be talking about sitting with a person after they die, and what happens in these moments after death for the person who died. If you have any questions you’d like me to cover in this series, please contact me here on the blog or at cauldronsandcupcakes@gmail.com

Wherever you are, go in peace today, and know that you are in my thoughts, prayers and meditations. I’m wishing you well. I’m sending you love,

Nicole <3 xoxo

 

 

Some Early Reflections on Death

“Death is no more than passing from one room into another. But there’s a difference for me, you know. Because in that other room I shall be able to see.”
~ Helen Keller

 

Hello, friends. Welcome to my Wednesday series on Death and Dying.

This week, I’ll kick off the series by discussing some of my own first experiences of death. I’m choosing to start here because I see life and death quite differently to many people – and I always have. Perhaps this is because I am a psychic, and was born this way. Some of my knowing though, has happened by witnessing events that have thrown traditional views of life and death out the window – because these events have not supported the traditional views, and yet they happened. These events support  my belief that life and the place that is beyond this current life we are living is something  complex and beautiful. I believe that we continue to exist beyond this life. And I know that love goes on forever.

We’re all going to die. Some of us soon. Some of us not for years. But none of us are getting out of this world alive. Death’s something we will all know, for our loved ones and for ourselves. I hope you find these experiences I share comforting.

 

When I was a very small child I found life very confusing.

I thought that we were all dead, actually. Or asleep. Trapped in a dream. Living in a fish bowl. Life didn’t seem quite real. I kept trying to make sense of it. Each night I went to bed and expected that I would wake up back in my proper place. My real life.

Instead, each morning I would wake up and here I was. Still ‘alive’. But not the life that I remembered. The only comforting thing for me was that I also remembered other snippets of dreams (or being dead?) where I was living in a different time, and a different place, with mostly different people. I had several fragments of other dreams I had lived. They were as clear to me as movies, and the details never changed. In one of them I lived in a grand two-storey house made of stone, near an old castle. There was a big circular driveway for the carriages, and stables down behind the household gardens where all the horses lived. I had loved that place so much. I’d been very happy there.

There was another place, or may it was the same place, where upside-down coracles were used as buildings. I remember walking to see them in the fields, and the wind being cold and sharp. I knew the word ‘coracle’ and I knew that it was a boat. Some funny people put their boats upside down and turned them into houses. I told my mum this and drew her a picture, but she told me I was being silly. Then she told me only fairies would live in a house like that, because it was imaginary. Fairies were imaginary too, my mum said. She’d only believed in them when she was little. Eventually I stopped sharing my ‘silly stories’.

I knew, deep in my bones, that adults talking about death and being dead were wrong. Especially the ones who were frightened of death, or who believed that when you died there was nothing. That you just ceased to exist. No, I thought. That’s when you wake up again. That’s when you are home.

These are strange thoughts for a child who has not yet gone to school, or watched television, or read books about bigger concepts of the world. Or gone to church.

coracle house

Image from www.contours.co.uk PS – Mum, see, people DO live in them and they are real!!!

 

As an adult I have met other ‘strange children’ who have strong memories of previous lives or other times and places. You can click on the links to read the full story of each one.

There was the baby who kept staring at me in a cafe. He and his parents were strangers, and I’d never spoken to them. This baby communicated psychically with me, and I was overwhelmed with a series of images of two very young boys – twins – on a farm. There was an accident with a gun and one boy died. That boy had now ‘come back’ as a baby to be with his brother. I shared the information with the father, who -after initially being very angry with me – confirmed all of my information. It was emotional and traumatic, but when the information was shared both the baby and the father became deeply peaceful.

Then there was the little girl, Beth, who insisted that her mother bring her to see me. I had ‘seen’ this little girl before she was born, as a bright bubble of light in her mum’s aura. Beth’s mum had major fertility issues  and had not expected to become pregnant, but then she did and Beth was born. I’d never met Beth, but she knew me straight away. And she had news. Her brother William was coming to be born too. Her brother who was always being her brother. Of course, some time later he did come.

Kevin was a normal little boy until somewhere around the age of five, when he began screaming every time the family car drove under a long overpass or entered a tunnel. The first time this happened his hysteria was so severe that he actually passed out and needed to be taken to hospital. His mum brought him to see me after drugs and psychotherapy had failed to take away this little boy’s terror of tunnels. This wasn’t the only strange thing though. Kevin remembered very clearly being called ‘John’ and having another family with a different mummy. He also remembered how he had died in a previous life. A tunnel had collapsed during the London bombings when he was a little boy. His family had taken shelter there during an air raid. Kevin’s mum researched the things that Kevin told us during their session with me, and they checked out. Kevin had to be telling the truth. He was only five. How could he have made all of that up?

 

I have too many other stories to list here, but I’ll include one more. An adult this time, who contacted me after his sudden death, in order to save his daughter’s life. If death were a final ending, how could this happen? How could he contact me? How could what he told me save his child? The story is too long to recount here, but you can read all the details at this link: The Power of a Father’s Love

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Thanks for reading. Next week I’ll be talking about how to care for and be with people who are at the end stage of their life. If you have any questions you’d like me to cover in this series, please contact me here on the blog or at cauldronsandcupcakes@gmail.com

Holding you in my thoughts, prayers and meditations, Nicole <3 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.

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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

The Phone Call I Hated to Make

Image from www.wowreads.com

Image from www.wowreads.com

“When you give yourself permission to communicate what matters to you in every situation you will have peace despite rejection or disapproval. Putting a voice to your soul helps you to let go of the negative energy of fear and regret.”
~ Shannon L. Alder

 

I had to make a phone call yesterday. A call that I was dreading. If you read yesterday’s blog you’ll know why. During a meditation I’d received health information about one of my clients. Bad news. The worst news.

If it was true…

During my meditation it had been so clear. I saw the woman’s face. Liz, her name is. Then I saw Liz’s body. I saw a huge mass of tumors in her abdomen. I saw small tumors elsewhere. I saw her body consumed by these dark masses. I felt the urgency of needing to contact her, the certainty of what I was seeing. I was flooded with sadness and futility. It kept me up all night.

Yesterday morning I was an exhausted mess. The further away I stepped from that meditation, the easier it was for doubt to creep in.

Maybe I’d imagined it.

Maybe it wasn’t physical, but emotional, or symbolic.

Maybe I was just plain wrong.

There was the fear too. What would I say? How would I start? How would my information be received? Would I even be believed?

What if I was wrong?

I made the call at about 8.30 in the morning. The woman I’d been worried about all night answered and burst into tears.

‘I knew it would be you,’ Liz said. ‘I read your blog this morning, and I just knew. I’ve already rung in sick to work and called my family doctor’

‘I might be wrong,’ I said to her.

‘No,’ she said. ‘I’m sure you’re not. I’ve been asking for help, and telling the Universe that I’m not coping. Yesterday I kept thinking about you all day. And that friend of yours with the little girls – the one who died. I was going to ring and make an appointment to see you. Then I read your blog this morning and I knew.’

We both cried and talked for the next ten minutes. Liz is 52, happily married, with a son in Year Six, and daughters in Year 8 and 9.  Liz’s mum died of cancer at age 62, shortly after being diagnosed. Liz’s mum had been obese, a heavy smoker and drinker, and a diabetic. Liz has been careful to eat well, to exercise regularly and to stay slim. She doesn’t drink or smoke. She hasn’t needed to go to a doctor for years.

Lately though she has been tired. For maybe the last two years she’s had back pain on and off, headaches and belly aches and crushing fatigue. Her stomach has been swollen and bloated. She’d put it down to stress, approaching menopause, and to not completely giving up wheat and dairy.

Although lately she’d begun to worry that something more serious was happening.

Liz rang me at lunchtime to give me an update. The local doctor had been able to fit her in straight away after a cancellation. After his examination he’d sent her straight to hospital, given her mum’s history. Liz had an ultrasound, followed by a PET scan. She was then told to wait for the result, and asked to ring her husband so that he could come to the specialist’s rooms too.

Liz said that she could tell from her local doctor’s face that it was bad, before she’d even had her scans. Then the scans took forever, and more than one person was called in to help during her ultrasound. The room went quiet. That was when Liz was sure. But still, while she was waiting for the results Liz was trying to be optimistic. Liz told me that whatever happened, she’d decided to spend the money she’d put aside towards new carpets and curtains to take her family to Hawaii at Easter instead, a place she’s wanted to visit ever since she was a little girl.

Liz called me again last night. She has been diagnosed with Stage 4 ovarian cancer. It has spread to her liver, lungs and brain – everywhere. The doctor apologised over and over to her. She said he appeared genuinely upset.

This is the same cancer that claimed Liz’s mother. There is nothing doctors can do except offer surgery to remove the larger masses to make her more comfortable, give palliative chemotherapy, and provide pain relief. This may or may not extend her life or provide a better quality of life.

The doctor could not give a timeframe for the pathway of her illness. But he was clear in saying that her condition could only be managed now. He was very sorry.

This weekend Liz will weigh up her options and try to decide on a plan for the time she has left.

I’m devastated for her and her family.

She asked me to thank you for sending your love, energy and prayers, and asks if you can continue to do so. Especially for her husband and children. She knows it won’t change her outcome but Liz says that the thought of all of that support is making this easier for her.

And she kept thanking me. Which, for me, was probably the hardest part of our conversation. This truly was a call I wish I’d never had to make.

So, can you join me in remembering Liz and her family in your thoughts, prayers and meditations? Can you send them love and well wishes and positive energy?

Thank you. Bless you. Be kind to each other, today and always.

Nicole xx

Image from www.quotesgram.com

Image from www.quotesgram.com

 

PS – I also have one other thing to ask of you too. No matter how well-meaning, please do not bombard me with information for Liz about miracle cures for cancer, about alkaline diets or black salve or bicarb soda or cannabis oil or your awesome network marketing product or clinics in Mexico offering salvation or any other such things. Perhaps we might have that conversation some other day, but not right now.

 

 

The Stories That Bind Us, Heal Us

“Don’t try to present your art by making other people read or hear or see or touch it; make them feel it. Wear your art like your heart on your sleeve and keep it alive by making people feel a little better. Feel a little lighter. Create art in order for yourself to become yourself and let your very existence be your song, your poem, your story.
Let your very identity be your book.
Let the way people say your name sound like the sweetest melody.”
~ Charlotte Eriksson

 

Today we farewell my friend, Angela. Family, friends and community will come together to celebrate her life, and to remember her place in our midst.

Humanity is built upon stories, and today stories will help us to heal.

I have sat at the deathbeds of twelve souls now – family and friends – as I watched and assisted with their transition from this life to the next. And in every instance it has been story that has helped the living, and the soul who is passing.

When we tell stories we embrace the magical nature of an ordinary life. What kind of stories? I have never heard a deathbed story yet about a corporate takeover, a successful career, or money made. Nor at a memorial, unless by someone who didn’t have anything except the shallowest of connections with the deceased. Those kinds of stories are tabloid news. Wikipedia entries.

No. When we love and remember our time together with someone who is dying, or who has passed, our stories are always about the journey, and our shared moments. Our ordinary everyday magical moments.

Remember that dress with the puffy sleeves you wore to the school formal? God, we thought we were soooo glamorous.

Remember the time Uncle Charlie dropped his dentures in the punch at the wedding? Your mother was furious, and Aunty Esmay just fished them out and pretended like nothing had happened.

Remember that time when we went camping and it rained and the tent leaked. And then that big storm came? And to top it off we got food poisoning. Worst holiday we ever had.

What was that amazing fish and chip shop we used to go to, down at the beach? You know the one that did the big fat homemade chips and you always just used to get two crumbed sausages even though they had the best fresh seafood on the entire planet? You used to drive Dad mad because you’d never even try the fish. It was so good. So good.

Ah, those were the days. Remember that birthday party with the neighbours when we are kids and…

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Dad worked so hard. Two jobs. Sometimes three. I never realised until years later what a big sacrifice he and Mum made so that we could have a better education than them.

Remember that year you forgot to defrost the turkey and we had toasted cheese sandwiches and ice-cream and pudding for Christmas dinner.

Sometimes it’s a place for confessions and secrets too. I never told you where I really went that day. I never told you how beautiful you looked. I still have that jumper you knitted me. Sorry, Dad. I couldn’t throw it away. Now my daughter uses the desk you made for Grandma. Even after all this time I still treasure… I wish I’d told you… I’m sorry that…

We share the small events of our lives with the one who is leaving us.

It’s a beautiful day today. One of those spring days we get, when the jacarandas are in flower and the days are hot, but the nights are still cool enough that you need a blanket on the bed. There was mist on the river this morning. On the drive over here the radio was playing that song we used to dance to, back at high school. You know the one. I saw so-and-so yesterday. Did you know he’s married now? Two kids and another on the way. I can’t believe I used to have the hots for him. I’m glad you talked me out of that one!

I just had a coffee at that corner cafe. You would have loved the chocolate cake. Good thick frosting, and a little strawberry on top. I know how much you love a good cake.

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When someone is dying, and after they have passed, we swap stories about hair styles and ridiculous fashion, places from our memories, great meals and crashing personal disasters, often with a funny edge. We remember family pets and embarrassing moments. Our first cars, our first romance. Movies and music. Books we loved. How we met. That funny thing they always said. The holiday we had. All of those shared moments.

At the end of our days, or of a loved one’s, the memories we will string like precious beads will be about love and friendship, and adventures and adversities shared and overcome. They will be homespun, with a few exotic locations and amazing highlights thrown in.

We’re almost at the end of a year. A natural time for giving pause and reflecting.What blessings can you plan for the year ahead? What richness can you mine from your ordinary life, right now and into the future? Is your life filled with at least a small amount of the things that make your heart sing? Are you doing the things that really matter to you? Are you spending time with the people you love?

It’s not too late. Life is precious, and it’s yours to do with as you wish. I know that my friend Angela would want to encourage you to live it well, using your heart as a compass. Our time here goes by in the blink of an eye, so make it count!

What story will you write for yourself? What story will you share with the world? In the end it is our stories that bind us, that heal us, and that grow us.

Image from quoteswave.com

Image from quoteswave.com

 

There Was No Blog Post This Morning Because… Life

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“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”
~ Leo Buscaglia

 

I’d had every intention of blogging early this morning, as I usually do. As I’ve missed doing during these past two weeks of enforced rest while my heart returned to normal. My routine is always this: 4am meditation, healing and prayers, cup of tea and blog writing time, and then I greet the day, work on my own writing for a while, or go for a little wander around the farm, followed by breakfast with Ben and Cafe Dog at one of a number of favourite hangouts.

But it didn’t work out like that today.

I was up early, and sat down with my singing bowl to do a healing meditation. My dear friend, Angela, who has recently passed over, came straight through. I spent my first waking hours in meditation with her soul’s energy – talking with her, and guiding her and helping as best I could, including sharing the wonder that is the next stage of her journey.

I’d barely finished my meditation when my phone rang. Angela’s husband was keen to meet for early coffee and a chat. He’s just lost his wife. His life is upside down. Her funeral is tomorrow. And he has a million questions about what is happening for him and for Angela.

So, of course, they have been my first priority, and you my dear readers have needed to be second today.

Thank you for your patience and your kindness during these past higgledy-piggledy weeks. Illness and dying follow their own schedules, irregardless of our plans. My life is a strange one by ordinary standards – it’s almost always full of chaos and urgent needs, and psychic phenomena requiring my attention. But that’s okay. That’s what I signed up for, and I’m honoured to walk this path, and to share a little of my journey with you through my blog.

I’ll see you tomorrow, when normal scheduling resumes.

Much love, and gentle hugs, Nicole <3 xoxo

Image from gallerily.com

Image from gallerily.com

 

 

For Angela, On Your Last Morning

“I would rather walk with a friend in the dark, than alone in the light.”
~ Helen Keller

 

Good Morning, Darling Friend.

My first thought this morning is of you, on this, your last morning. As I lay in my soft bed, in my still-dark room, I thought of how I left you last night. Your laboured breathing, the white walls of your hospital room, the little bubble of peace that you were in, surrounded by but no longer aware of the sounds of distress and traffic and beeping machines and views over car parks and shabby buildings.

Lie gently, my friend. None of that matters now. Let it all fall away.

Rest.

And let me fill your mind with a picture of all the things I can see and be grateful for this morning, and that I know you will understand and treasure too.

From my bed I can hear the cry of the cheeky kookaburra who lives in the grove of eucalypts beside our bedroom. Mr Grumpy the koala is noisily saying goodnight to the last of his girlfriends. The gentle pre-dawn light is filled with the chuff and click and chirrup of the myriad birds who call our farm their home. Down the road, at Richard and Jo’s, their three roosters are stirring and calling. They are such handsome fellows. So full of life and personality.

Image by Jo Immig

Image by Jo Immig

The morning’s air is cool, and fragranced with damp earth and that lush scent of rainforest. To be truthful, there is also that hint of cow.

Here, in our bedroom, Lavender and Peace and Calming oils linger on my pillow, just as they do on yours. We are linked by fragrance. And by love, my dear. That makes me smile.

At the foot of my bed Bert is gently snoring and twitching with a little dog dream. My pillow cradles my head and the worn linens that cover my legs against the morning chill are silken soft. It’s a safe little cocoon, this bed, as beds should be. Just as your bed is for you right now. A place to float away on peaceful dreams.

I know you’re there now. In that gentle, soulful place we talked about. That place of peace and quiet and joy and letting go, surrounded by love. I know that you can feel the love for you – here, and where you’re going. It was an honour to take you there yesterday, and to feel your ragged fear and distress melt away and for you to find comfort and sanctuary. I’m right here with you. You’re safe, and loved, and all is well.

Harry and Ben are already up and out of bed, and getting ready for the day – time to check the cows soon and to put the hose out on the mulberry tree up by the pool.

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I’m up too. The kettle is on, and it fizzes and ticks in the quiet. So quiet that I can hear the hum of the fridge, the occasional fat drop of water plopping melodically into the soaking saucepan I placed in the sink last night after a hurried dinner. No fancy meal that was – just a bowl of noodles with soft yolked eggs, butter, cheese and a handful of herbs from the pots at the back door of the kitchen. Comfort food. Carbs. Oh goodness, Ange – the foods I will savour now for you. I know how much you’ll enjoy that.

My tea this morning is a colossal cup of Melbourne Breakfast with a good slug of milk. That smooth vanilla taste with the kick of caffeine. I’m in my pyjamas and gum boots now, mug in hand, walking around my early morning garden. I must pull out and compost the sweet peas. They are at their end, and it’s time to plant out my summer flowers. There are mulberries to pick, and sweet Tom Thumb and Amish tomatoes. I laughed when I inspected that ratty old capsicum bush, which is also slated for the compost. What a fighter it is. It must have heard me say that last week. Again! Another fruit this morning, and two more developing.

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The sunlight is streaky thin and still silver, but the sky has a hint of gold and purple. Even from here, hidden by the mountain, I can sense the ocean, and feel the promise of heat in the day.

Up in the teak tree the tawny frogmouth owl mother is sitting on her flimsy nest of sticks, a couple of fledglings under her wing. She’s watching me. But you know about me and owls…

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I’ve dragged the hose down from the mulberry to the lemon tree, which is covered in tiny perfect fruit. The grass is still dew-covered, and the sweet white clover heads are getting ready for the morning influx of bees.

I’ll sit here on this chair out under the poinciana now, and sip my tea, and think of you. Remember Christmas Day, when you both popped in for one celebratory drink and left late that night after too much champagne and prosecco and food? We laughed so much you fell off your chair. Such happy memories of good times, my darling girl. It’s been a marvellous life – filled with that special richness of love and friendship and appreciation of the simple things. Wonderful husbands, loveable dogs, gardens, good food, music and dancing and surfing and beach walks and bonfires and travel and staying up late into the night devouring the pages of a book you can’t put down.

The whole earth is vibrant this morning as you leave us. Time moves more slowly, as you take a last look around. It’s beautiful here. So beautiful. And what I am most grateful for this morning is that finally you see how beautiful you are too, and that you have ALWAYS been beautiful. And loved. You just didn’t always remember that on other waking days. No matter, sweet friend. You came from love, you are love, and you return to love.

It’s all good. Every single crazy inexplicable moment.

I love you so much.

So, for you, the magical journey begins. That secret journey we all wonder about. How special and fantastic and amazing that journey is. Surrender to that magic. Smile, that you know the secret now too.

I’ve lit your candle, with your wishes, watched over by the owl you gave me.

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We promise to look after your man, and your puppy dogs, and to drink bubbles and to have glorious expeditions and delicious food and think of you.

I’ll meet you in the night sky. I’ll meet you in that place.

Love is forever, and I know that you can still receive emojis in heaven. But I’ll miss the ones you used to send me here.

Thank you, Angela, for everything.

I love you. Nicole <3 xoxo

images (23)

 

The Strange Dream With The Even Stranger Twist

“Tis strange, – but true; for truth is always strange;
Stranger than fiction: if it could be told,
How much would novels gain by the exchange!
How differently the world would men behold!”
~ George Gordon Byron, Don Juan

 

*Please note that I have changed the names below to protect the privacy of those involved.

I dreamt the oddest dream the other night. It was one of those dreams so rich in detail – the sounds, the smells, the textures and emotions – that it might have been real. Me, transposed into some other reality through the mechanism of my dream.

I sat beside Ben in a big white American-style utility. We were in heavy traffic in an unfamiliar city, my husband behind the wheel and me looking all around at the buildings and the many lanes that were converging on a five-ways. As we began to merge I saw a vehicle towing a closed in trailer cut across the lanes to reach an exit on the other side of the road. A semi was bearing down upon them. I knew there wasn’t enough time. The truck hit the car and trailer, pushing them along and into other traffic.

Ben began to take evasive action as time slowed down. I was aware of every detail. There seemed an abundance of time and yet so little to be done. The crunching, grinding sound was sickening. I was sure that we would become part of the unfolding accident. Sure we would be badly injured or killed. My heart raced at the truly chaotic and terrifying scene.

Suddenly it was over. Our car was safely stopped. The truck and other cars were stopped. Debris was everywhere. People came running from all directions. I flung open my door, assaulted by the smell of burning brakes, rubber, metal and fuel. On the asphalt ahead of us was a small boy. His shirt and jacket were shredded, and he had an open wound in his chest. He was crying out for his mother, over and over. Mum, mum, mum.

I dropped down beside him, picked him up and cradled him in my arms, frantically looking around for some help. His blood was soaking my shirt. I pressed my fingers into the wound, trying to staunch the flow, and the boy looked up at me.

‘Am I dying?’ he asked. ‘It hurts.’

His voice didn’t sound like a child’s. He spoke with the voice of a man.

I somehow knew the truth, that yes, he was dying. I nodded yes.

‘I’m frightened,’ he said. He started to cry. ‘I knew I shouldn’t have taken my bike out today.’

I’m still dreaming, I thought to myself. I’m not really here.

Image from smartiplex.com

Image from smartiplex.com

Beyond us I saw a badly damaged motorbike on the ground. I looked down again and it was no longer a little boy, but a man whose head and chest were on my lap as I cradled him in my arms.

‘Mum,’ the man said. He squeezed my hand hard. ‘Thanks for coming. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I’ve screwed everything up.’

‘I’m not your mother,’ I managed to say.

‘I know,’ he said. ‘My mother is already passed. My name is Andy. Andy Little.’ Bubbles of blood were coming out of his mouth.

I held Andy’s hand and stroked his hair. I whispered to him to not be afraid. That it would all be okay.

A woman in white walked towards us through the smoke and debris. ‘I’ll take him now,’ she said. I looked down and Andy’s eyes had glazed. The woman was gone. Andy was dead.

I woke up crying.

The dream stayed with me, and I couldn’t let it go. It affected me so strongly that I vomited. My head ached all day and I felt exhausted and disoriented. I offered up prayers for Andy, and held space for him in my meditations.

Finally, days later, I decided to google the name. Andy Little had been killed in a multiple vehicle accident at around the time of my dream, in a city on the other side of the world. He had been riding a motorbike. His photo matched the face of the man from my dream.

He had no next of kin.

I still feel so sad. I can’t explain it. Was it a dream? Was I there? What does it all mean? I do know that Andy is with his mum now, and for him, everything will be okay.

This life of mine is so strange at times. I hope that in some way, energetically, I was there and was able to offer Andy comfort as he passed. To think that gives me a measure of comfort too.

Image from EmilysQuotes.com

Image from EmilysQuotes.com