Crossing the Threshold:
Sex, Birth and Death all sit at the same crossroads and offer us a glimpse into the Divine, the Infinite, if we are present and willing.
As a Spiritual Midwife, Mother, Wife, Lover, Friend, Neighbor, Natural Witch, Blossoming Yogini and Tantrika, Dream Weaver and Awakening Woman on the Priestess Ordination Path… I have had mystical experiences. I have danced with the Divine. Each glimpse I have taken into the unknown has been in the midst of birth, sex, a death, nature, yoga, bodywork, belly dancing or an altered state of consciousness.
An excerpt from an “interview” of sorts… my sharing about being present with loved ones during their transition from this Life onto the Unknown of what’s next.
Q. Have you had the experience of supporting someone in their dying process? If so what were your biggest challenges and fears? How has the experience changed you?
Yes… it was 2 of the most powerful experiences of my life. Right up there, and in some ways even more powerful, than the birth of my children.
I was partly raised my by grandparents, and in a way, they were also my “parents.” I was present and very very involved with both of their transitions. I dropped everything in my life and went to be with my family of origin (incredibly healing- and confronting) for two weeks and more during their passings. It was an incredible Rite of Passage, and a powerful transformative experience.
My biggest challenge during this time was leaving my husband and children. In truth, something was very very natural about this to me. I was ‘at home.’ I was surprisingly grounded through all of it and I stepped right up. Having attended many births as a Doula, I went about this in the same way. I made sure food was around for people, I just naturally feel like I put people at ease and did what needed to be done. I show up well in the birthing room and dying room and other crisis.
With my grandmother’s passing, I did touch on some fear at one point. Her process was really painful and long and it did not feel peaceful at all. It was difficult to witness. She was struggling a great deal. Every day felt longer and longer and it took quite a long time for her to pass actually and it was really upsetting to the whole family. It was the first time I had been away from my children and I was having a very hard time- I missed my little one so much! It was physically painful. Upon reflection, I feel terrible that I left him for so long. But this was very important. About a week and a half into it I began feeling panicky, almost like I was feeling her anxiety. I had felt it before though, the terror of the Unknown, of what happens when we die. And I was doing a lot of the night shifts, staying with her in the middle of the night, sometimes bonding with my cousin. So I was tired. And my thoughts would get strange. I would think about how we are all one, and then I would think, that I was the one holding on and not letting go….. that perhaps in fact I was my grandmother there dying and the reality I was experiencing was a hallucination and that in truth, I wasn’t moving on and it was creating and keep all of this awful hanging on with everyone. It was over caffeinated sleepy crazy thoughts, and facing my darkest fears of being mentally ill (my grandmother had struggled with this) – and I was also tapping into the “one.” I managed to work through it though and remained grounded. That was the only real difficult time with the two passings.
My grandmother had been the most painful relationship in my life. And so being with her through her death was a much needed healing. In fact, she left me with a gift that…. I just am so grateful for.
She died alone with me. For two weeks, all of her 8 children and many more grandchild came and stayed and it was quite an experience. And I (and my mother) had definitely endured the worst of the wrath of her illness. And one quiet night, my cousin and I were doing another night shift. We saw she had bed sores. Some had not wanted to move her because she was in obvious pain any time we moved her. But, Jean (my Grandmother) was a very modest very very clean woman. Cleanliness was Godliness…. And my cousin and I knew she would not want to be sitting in “dirt.” So after everyone went to sleep, with such tender love we gave her a beautiful sponge bath. We put her in a beautiful clean nightgown and brushed her hair, washed her face. Adjusted her Rosary just so…. She would want to meet God in her finest most cleanly state.
And then suddenly, when my cousin had left to go do the laundry, I saw something in my Grandmother’s face change…… she looked like her self for a moment (she had been mostly unconscious for two weeks, partial coma from stroke, only crying and moaning). Well, I could tell something was happening. So I went right up to her, and held her face in one hand and I put the other on her heart. She took a deep breath and I began to say the Rosary (amazingly I remembered, she loved the Rosary and prayed multiple times daily). And she left, right there alone with me. As she left, I saw and felt this very visible strong orange warm glowing light leave her body…. It literally rose up and it also washed thru my arm that was on her heart… I could feel it running through me. I was a little scared at that…. but I let it go. It was beautiful. And such an incredible gift after all of the suffering I had experienced with her. It was also a gift because several years before I had had an intense existential crisis, a lot of it about death… and in being there with it… I still didn’t have any answers to the Mystery, but I felt at peace with what I witnessed. And I realized if I am just energy that leaves and folds back into the larger field of energy…. then I’m okay with that.
My grandfather’s passing was beautiful as well. I sat with him, held his hand and read to him. It was a honor. I loved both those experiences. I love the birthing room and the dying room.
It changed me in that I felt like I became even more of a woman. It’s hard to put into words…. but I could not have felt good about stepping up as a therapist if I had not fully been able to really be present for the passing of my ”parents”, really. I felt like more of an adult. And I could feel that I had some sort of gift with that energy… in this place between worlds. Midwiving Souls to and fro, between Heaven and Earth.
* Photo Credit, Andrew Keller