"What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others." - Pericles
This is the page we avoid. We do not want to "go gentle into that good night...." We hope to "rage, rage against the dying of the light" as Dylan Thomas asked of his dying father. Yet one of my clients said "When I entered my 70s I began wondering, "Where, when, and how?" The inevitability of dying becomes more real. Our Elderhood brings to fulfillment that which began at our birth, our life well lived.
Working with people of diverse backgrounds as a hospice spiritual counselor, I committed myself to helping all I could to have the most delightful death they want. Each has a vision of what that involves: harp music, hulu dancing, a toast among friends and family, poetry, singing, a final meal with loved ones. In my coaching I maintain that paying attention to the Spiritual Tasks of aging in our Elderhood prepares the way for a delightful death, being consciously present for the final farewell.
A delightful death will not gloss over the pain of loss. One dear friend is losing her beloved husband just now, too young. Their dream and vision of growing up together dies as well. All who know and love them are heart-broken, knowing the loss will be as profound and painful as their bond of love has been ecstatic and joyful. Preparing for a delightful death may celebrate the joy of living as well as the tragedy of dying.
We have an expanding awareness of the diverse possibilities for a delightful death. Music thanatology is a growing service. Individuals may play instruments bringing vibrations into the room that heal the spirit and relax the body. Threshold Choirs of female voices sing gentle arrangements composed to assist the beloved and those in attendance in letting go. Death Doula's may be engaged to assist in implementing the wishes of the dying loved one or the family during the active dying process. My coaching will enable clients and their families to form the vision for this final farewell celebration and gather resources to make it happen.
The delightful death becomes a family and community experience not to be hidden. Perhaps the most important preparation will be made by having the conversation as a family or community. The Living Will offers this opportunity. Resources in the Elderhood Academy will be helpful as you discuss this with your Coach.