Its my 41st birthday!! I love birthdays but usually don't do much to celebrate my own. Most years, being alive is celebration enough--today I've gone on a great hike, engaged all my senses, eaten donuts, and given and received a whole lotta love.
At the end of life, so much of how we identify during life seems to fade away, leaving only a core identity. That core differs for everyone. In one of my recent conversations with a dying client, I was struck with how often he referred to his identities in the past tense and how many of them had shifted as he was seriously looking at the end of his life.
I've been on vacation in the Bahamas, engaging in both self-care and general enjoyment for a few days. I feel like I've used my time well thus far. Yet since recognizing that my flight is tomorrow, I've decided I need to make the most of my time--which for me means filling it with activity even though I've been pleased doing the minimum thus far.
Are you familiar with medical ethicists? They have really unique and interesting jobs, mostly revolving around supporting families, doctors and patients solve complex medical ethical dilemmas. In the end of life context, they are useful when someone is unexpectedly at the end of life and it is unclear about what they would have wanted.
Perhaps you can help me find a word. What is the word to descirbe the beauty and sadness of the moment of death? What about the fullness of love and the emptiness of loss? What about the miracle that is life and the mystery that is death? Do you know this word?
What actions are you taking today that are going to lead to the type of story you want written about you after you die? In my work as a death doula, I've observed that some people cling to life because they fear they haven't done that big thing that people are going to remember them positively by.
Compassion is the key to my work as a death doula. As part of my preparation for the keynote address at the Compassionate Living and Dying Symposium which will be held in Sacramento on April 27, I asked a few people what they thought, including Joan Marie who is one of the founders of the Symposium.