Death is typically seen as a tough topic to talk about
Even though it might be a painful process for those who are dying, as well as for their loved ones, death does bring us closer to what is important in life. As a person who was taking care of my dying grandmother for the past 4 months, I see great value in the experiences I had. And with this in mind, I hope to convey at least some of the most important insights that came through for me.
My grandmother was in excruciating pain every day, for months. When doctors told us we can count her days, these later turned into whole months, full of unpleasant feelings for everybody involved. In the end, she couldn’t move, talk, eat or drink, but there was still something that was keeping her alive. I was thinking a lot about why my grandmother’s soul is choosing to continue living in such a state. Is she waiting for something? Or is it maybe because all her life, she was trained to be stubborn? By this point, the pain was an absolute atrocity (she was lying on an open wound and no amount of pain medicine was ever enough). I felt the need to talk to her soul about it, to ask her why all of this is happening. After all, most people don’t suffer to such an extent.
To explain how I reacted in this situation, I want to tell you more about my meditation practice
In my life, I’ve come to the point where I am practicing meditation daily. My mediation experiences have been super helpful for me to balance my mood and energy in my day-to-day life (find one of my short guided sessions here). Yet, sometimes I intentionally use these peaceful and quiet times to connect to a specific problem or a specific person. In the first case, I conclude my meditation with some solutions in my mind as meditation allows me to think out of the box. In the second case, I can connect with somebody that I love, send them some thoughts of appreciation, and even mentally ask them some questions. In return, I get some feelings or thoughts that are closely related to what the person would tell me if they would be there with me. These skills, I wish to add, are not exclusive to myself. They can be learned and harnessed through regular meditation practice, and with your desire to interact with the world in such a way.
So, I decided to meditate and contact my grandmother in this way as she was not able to speak anymore. I intended to bring her some relief and some words of encouragement. With deep and slow breaths, I relaxed and felt all my body pulsating. After a while, I “called” my grandmother’s spirit (I use the words “spirit” and “soul” interchangeably, for the lack of a more universally accepted term), and I invited her on a short vacation. I said to her that she can leave all the hardship behind for a moment. I did feel an urge to take her hand, which felt really special (as, because of her many wounds, I was advised not to touch her physical body too much, but in spirit, there was no reason to be scared of infections). So, in my mind, we started to lift from the ground and we went for a “walk”.
I told her that I admired her, her strength and energy
I told her that she can let go if she wants to. I also explained that everything is good on the other side and that we can still meet in my meditations, even after she leaves this body forever. While meditating I realized that dying is truly a naturally enlightening process. She was learning so much, even though she was only half present with us. Through this process she realized, she is not only her body, which was not something she was keen on thinking about before.
There was a moment when I asked her spirit: what is her mission and why is she holding onto her life so much? After that question I started to feel heavier, it felt more difficult for me to breathe. A bunch of thoughts flooded my mind. All the crippled relationships that she formed in her lifetime and all the wounds from her childhood started rolling inside my head like I was watching a movie. After a while, I realized my face was not relaxed while I was “watching” all these episodes. It was interesting that I found myself making the same exact facial expressions as she was doing when she was lying in her bed, half awake and half asleep. I soon realized that these are the thoughts that haunted her when she couldn’t sleep. It felt like she was not happy with her life, and she couldn’t do anything to change it. She used to be very stiff and unapologetic, which led her to form troublesome relationships with her children and others. Because of these feelings of unfulfillment, she was not ready to leave. Her life felt unresolved.
My closing thoughts were that there is always another chance to make it right
And that nobody is perfect – and that is OK as well. We are all in this together! I made the point that sometimes we have to let go to welcome a new beginning, and that it is not necessary to be in total control of our life all the time. I concluded my meditation under strong impressions of peace and went to sleep. The next morning she did not wake up. She released it all. May her soul find peace.