"They are all here"
This is a story about one of my doula clients who invited me to be there every step of the way of his end-of-life journey until he died a few days ago. He shared what he was feeling and experiencing, from his terminal diagnosis to moments before he died. He had been ill for many years, but things took a turn for the worse and he was told he only had a few months left to live. He asked me to help plan his last few months, which was an honor and a journey for me too, because I became a more intuitive and present doula because of how open, honest, and transparent he was with me. I learn from each person I am present for, which I love and appreciate.
The first few weeks we talked a lot about his life, his accomplishments, what he was most proud of, what he wanted to be remembered for, and his regrets, which there were many. I helped him write letters to the people in his life; some were filled with love and gratitude, some were offerings of forgiveness and apologies, hoping to somehow be able to let things go before he died. I did several rituals with him, allowing him to work through some of his regret, and make peace with his behavior and choices over the years, offering himself forgiveness, and permission to let go of some of the weight he had carried since his youth and into his adulthood.
Days before his death, he told me that he was seeing people in the room, people who had died years before. I asked him if he was afraid, which he wasn’t, and then I asked if he wanted to share with me who he was seeing and what it felt like. His father was killed when he was a small boy, his mother died when he was a teenager, his brother and sister had died at a time they had all lost contact and stopped talking, his wife died in a car accident a few years after his son was born, and his son had died about three years before we met.
He said to me… “they are all here.”
He shared that they didn’t come to him with anger or meanness, he truly felt they had come to let him know he would not go alone, which brought him peace. We talked a lot about what it felt like to be with them again. He said it was a beautiful reunion, with no bad feelings, which he equated to the rituals we had done, and being able to let his own stuff go before they arrived. And while there was a lot of time missed for all of them, he felt that there was no need to catch up, or rehash, or make amends. He felt that it had already been done somehow, and they were all going to be taking the next part of his journey together, as though no time had passed, and there were no harsh words or bad feelings, which he was thankful for.
Prior to their arrival, we had gone through all of his photos, which I helped arrange in a photo album. We went through them again after they arrived so he could show me who was there with him. He said that they all looked as they did in their photos, no one aged.
The day he died, he was incredibly aware of where he was on his journey, aware that he was close, aware that he was dying, and aware that they were all there and he would not be going alone, which was one of his deepest worries and fears early on when we first connected.
Before he died, he took my hand and thanked me, he closed his eyes, he squeezed my hand gently, and he died, peacefully. And my heart was full.
After he died I took a walk in one of my favorite forests, and collected items to make a mandala. With each item I collected, I thought of him, our conversations, his death, and the gifts of our time together, which I will hold in my heart forever. I honored him, and I said goodbye.
This is another blog I wrote about the visions, voices, and visitors people experience at the end of life: