I have had several conversations offline with people who did not know what to do with their husband or parent who was near death. The issue was their fear if their loved one was to die at home. The belief that it might be a horrible experience
There appears to be a prevailing consciousness existing amongst many caregivers with regard to their loved one's dying at home. I am not quite sure where this belief or fear originated. Several people offline have contacted me this week regarding their fear and inability to cope with this eminent situation. They wanted their loved one to die in the hospital under the care of their doctor or nurses. The patients themselves, wanted to make their transition in the comfort of their own home.
I discussed this with a professional caregiver as well as the director of a caregiver foundation. It seems that before nursing homes were created, there was no problem with a loved one dying at home. It was something that happened and it was accepted. Somewhere in the belief system of those who were brought up in the depression, this underlying fear of death began to surface. Since many of those from the depression were working at least one job and often two, the advent of the nursing home era came into being. Many died in the nursing home, hospital or some type of facility.
The fear might also stem from the feeling that the caregiver will feel as if he/she could have done more...didn't do enough.... did something wrong, when in fact, it isn't the case at all. Death can't be stopped by humans regardless of how much love goes into the caregiving.
Today, there are over 24 million family caregivers. This figure is old. I am sure it is much larger by now. Millions are faced with the issue of looking at death. What are you feeling about this eminent experience that you are nearing? What are your fears? What is the worst thing that you can imagine?
Many of you can relate to having put an animal down due to illness. The pain and the grief can be awesome, but if you have been with the animal as they took their last breath it was peaceful and you may have even experienced a moment of freedom and relief at their final breath. It doesn't mean that you didn't grieve afterwards, but it wasn't as devastating as you may have imagined.
Many of you may have been with a loved one when they passed over as well. It is quite an awesome experience. For me it was so bittersweet. The joy that my loved ones were finally over their pain and suffering. The freedom and the relief. Yet there was the overwhelming grief as well. The fact that I was holding there hand, loving them, intuitively I knew in my heart and soul, that I was grateful to be with them. Our souls know all that is going on in that very moment. There is something incredibly powerful and beautiful in retrospect that you carry on in your own life. It is a pivotal and meaningful transition that will affect you for the rest of your life.
So, how can you get passed these old beliefs so that you can look forward to lovingly support and embrace this final moment with your loved one? This is your exercise for the week. Be still, get comfortable and begin to breathe in love and light. On each exhale, let go of all the worries, the fears, the doubts and your concerns that are no longer serving you in the moment. As you feel your body begin to maintain an inner peacefulness, allow your thoughts to wonder into what your fears might be. Observe all that comes over through you. Be with the fears, the concerns and see how it feels to you.
Then imagine your loved one as they are taking their final breaths. What can you say to them? If you haven't forgiven them for something, let it go in this very moment. Knowingly, reassure them that they will be safe for others are waiting to guide them on the other side. Most of all reassure them that God, or that source is with them to guide and protect them. Feel how this feels.
BLESSINGS TO YOU ALL
©GAIL R. MITCHELL 9/29/99
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