Newsletter Sept 2011 - Grief, Death and Dying

My Father's Last Gift

I have to admit I started this newsletter after my father died and I have procrastinated finishing it for quite sometime. I don't think I really knew how much my dad's death affected me, delaying things that needed to be completed. I thought I had processed and accepted his death already but I found out I am not immune to my own grief. I was triggered by Jack Layton's passing away on August 22 from cancer. It sparked a deep emotional response, especially seeing photos of him in May looking healthy and then on July 25 so thin, and a month later...gone.

My own father was admitted to the hospital mid-January 2011, and diagnosed less than a week later with terminal lung cancer, that had spread to most of his body.. Getting this diagnosis was not a big surprise as my sisters and I had sensed something was not right with our Dad for about six months. However, it did not change the fact that I was now faced with losing my father. I watched him deteriorate, becoming frail so very quickly.

My sisters and I had been there everyday for quite sometime; even if we all couldn't be there, one of us always saw him. The day before he died my sister Nikki, was with Dad at the General Hospital. When I arrived she told me that he wasn't talking anymore. I went in to see him, and immediately told Nikki we can't leave him alone, somebody needed to be there every minute. My mother (his ex-wife) was there also, as she and my dad are friends and he said he wanted her there at the end. We stayed with him for hours, but by 1 a.m. my sister said she had to leave; she had a new baby at home. I said I would stay until somebody came back in the morning.

Just after 4 a.m. we could see he was struggling, his breathing had changed. We asked the nurse to come in and check on him. We asked if we should call my sisters and they agreed this would be the right time. I called Nikki and told her to come quickly. I sat with him, holding his hand telling him I loved him, and it was ok for him to go, we would be fine.

While I was holding his hand with my eyes closed, I told my mom the energy in the room and with him had suddenly changed. He was very calm. I told her "It feels like a surprise party, the room is dark but you can feel how full the room is, there is a feeling of anticipation." Then I felt what could have been a blanket placed around my shoulders, but there was no physical blanket.

My father took his last breath and I felt him leave.

In that moment I become a child, grieving, crying, "No Daddy, Daddy, Daddy!" My grief tearing at my heart. A few minutes later I called my sister Twyla to tell her he was gone, and as I was looking out the window to the street I could see Nikki running, running so hard from her truck, trying to make it, to be there for him. I told Twyla what I was seeing and we just cried for her, knowing how Nikki was hurrying with her kids in tow, just to be there with him in those last moments and missing it by minutes.

My mother was heartbroken over his death, and from seeing her children, their children in so much pain. She wanted to go downstairs before Nikki even got to the elevator to tell her. I said, "No, let her come." Mom wanted to wait for her outside the door to the room. Again I said, "No, let her come."

As soon as she walked in her face crumbled, "I missed him, didn't I?" She went to Dad's bedside, caressed his face very gently, cried and said goodbye.

My Dad's sisters arrived a few minutes later, torn apart by missing him, and then his wife arrived.

I never realized how important it was for people to be able to say goodbye, and I cherish that moment with my father, it felt like his last gift to me as his daughter. Part of that gift was a reminder of how important it is to say "I love you" to the people around me, to my family, to my friends every chance I get. Never hold back, it might the last time you get that chance.

John Martin Add Image

March 31, 1936 - February 24, 2011


Five Stages of Grief

By Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

Denial is usually only temporary defense for the individual. This feeling is generally replaced with heightened awareness of positions and individuals that will be left behind after death.

  • Anger - "Why me? It's not fair!"How can this happen to me?" Once in the second stage, the individual recognizes that denial cannot continue. Because of anger, the person is very difficult to card for due to misplaced feelings of rage and envy. Any individual that symbolizes life or energy is subject to projected resentment and jealousy.
  • Bargaining - "I'll do anything for a few more years." The third stage involves the hope that the individual can somehow postpone or delay death. Usually, the negotiation for an extended life is made with a higher power in exchange for a reformed lifestyle. Psychologically, the individual is saying, " I understand I will die, but if I could just have more time...."
  • Depression - "I'm so sad, why bother with anything?", I'm going to die... What's the point?" During the fourth stage, the dying person begins to understand the certainty of death. Because of this, the individual may become silent, refuse visitors and spend much of the time crying and grieving. This process allows the dying person to disconnect from things of love and affection. It is not recommended to attempt to cheer up an individual who is in this stage. It is an important time for grieving that must be processed.
  • Acceptance - "It's going to be okay.","I can't fight it, I may as well prepare for it." In this last stage, the individual begins to come to terms with his mortality or that of his loved one.

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross originally applied these stages of grieve only to people suffering from a terminal illness. However it can also be applied to any form of catastrophic personal loss (job, income, freedom). This may also include life events such as the death of a loved one, divorce, drug addiction, the onset of a disease or chronic illness, as well as many other tragedies and disasters.

No matter what the situation or grief and loss, allow the stages to be processed at their own pace until they get to acceptance.


What Happens After Death

Many of the world's religions speak of the soul's endurance beyond the end of life. So what then does it mean; to die?

I don't know the exact answer to this question but I do have a very healthy level acceptance with the idea of death. This is based on my own beliefs in reincarnation, personal experience and interactions with my clients during past life regressions.

What is reincarnation? Reincarnation, best describes the concept where the soul or spirit, after the death of the body, is believed to return to live in a new human body. Knowing and believing in reincarnation can make the idea of death easier to accept for family, friends and the ones facing death.

By working with my clients that choose to do a past life regression and from experiencing several of my own I have a solid belief in this concept of life after death. I feel that if a person is struggling or scared with the idea of death, experiencing a past life regression could ease their concerns or fears. Assisting them in letting go, being able to move from life to death with ease.

So how is past life regression beneficial besides helping to accept the idea of death?

Well it can also help in clearing/healing trauma from a previous life. Some of these traumas can be surrounding the actual death event, which can cause fear of death in a current life time. Healing overt acts of emotional distress, where the past-life self can be either the perpetrator or victim. It also involves the subject experiencing, either receiving the forgiveness of the victim(s) or performing an appropriate atonement, and obtaining forgiveness of the present-life self for the overt act(s). It can also be in relation to identifying previous issues that can cause fears, phobias or even allergies.

Experiencing a past life regression can be a moment in your life when you are ready to release old baggage or just to learn more about who you are.


We are all creatures of this great earth, Interconnected in ways beyond our understanding.


Take elephants.

So big.

So strong.

And yet,

when a member

of the herd passes,

even elephants mourn.

They gather around,

extend their trunks,

and gently touch

the tusks

of their fallen friend.

It's their ritual.

It's how they heal.

And it's sad.

And it's beautiful.

So maybe

what we're trying to say

is the that the world

doesn't expect you

to be fine with this.

Be how you need to be.

Mourn how you need to mourn.

And know that

you're thought of

with love.

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